Tobias Picker's adaptation of Roald Dahl's beloved children's story sees a run of nine performances from July 26 through August 14 at England's Opera Holland Park in a new chamber orchestration for seven players. This production is designed specifically to utilize the beautiful scenery of Holland Park’s Yucca Lawn as a natural scenic backdrop.
An ideal introduction for children to opera using a source material that many of them know and love,Fantastic Mr. Fox can no less be savored by opera lovers of every ilk. Picker’s revered lyric gift and natural sense of dramatic arc animates the story of the wily Mr. Fox and his bid to outwit his farmer neighbors. Sure to be an enchanting hour of entertainment for audiences of all ages, the production is conducted by Carl Penlington-Williams and directed by Stephen Barlow.
The Roald Dahl Foundation commissioned Tobias Picker to adapt the story in 1998, and the opera premiered at the Los Angeles Opera in December of that same year marking the first world premiere of an American opera in Los Angeles. Heidi Waleson remarked in The Wall Street Journal following the premiere:
Together [Picker and librettist Donald Sturrock] captured Dahl's spirit in a musical language that challenged, entertained and never pandered, skillfully balancing dark and light. Two entirely new creatures gave Mr. Picker the chance for some particularly inspired writing: Miss Hedgehog (soprano Sari Gruber), who laments her spinsterhood in a touchingly lyrical aria, and Agnes the Digger (Jill Grove), a butch earthmover with a dramatic mezzo range who is even scarier and more powerful than the nasty farmers with their guns. The opera was a captivating and witty entertainment. Oboe themes representing the natural world contrasted with the percussive characterization of the people and the machines. Mr. Picker also made colorful orchestral use of mallet instruments and a piano. The fox family and the quintet of bad guys had catchy ensembles, there were two haunting chorales for a children's chorus of trees, and the fox pair celebrated their victory at the end with, of course, a fox trot.
Read reviews of the Holland Park production from The Independant (UK) and at www.whatsonstage.com.
Visit www.tobiaspicker.com and www.schott-music.com for more on the music of Tobias Picker.
Precise ticketing information on Opera Holland Park’s production of Fantastic Mr. Fox is located atwww.ohp.rbkc.goc.uk.
Fantastic Mr. Fox (1998, arr. 2010)
opera in three acts
libretto (En) by Donald Sturrock
for 2 sopranos, 3 mezzo-sopranos, 2 tenors, 2 baritones, bass baritone, bass, four children and chorus
chamber orchestration featured at Opera Holland Park: 0.0.1(bcl).1-0.0.0.0-perc-pno-vn.va.vc
original orchestration: 2(1.alfl 2.pic).2(2.ca).2(2.bcl).2(2.cbsn) -18.104.22.168-timp.2perc-hp.pno-str
also available in reduced orchestration: 1(pic.alto).1(ca).1(bscl).1(cbsn)-2hn.tp.tba-1perc.timp-hp.pno-vn.va.vc.db