Tobias Picker’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox” at Opera San Antonio
Opera San Antonio inaugurates the new Carlos Alvarez Studio Theatre on September 23 with a production of Tobias Picker’s beloved Fantastic Mr. Fox in an arrangement for seven instruments, adapted from the story by Roald Dahl. Scored for clarinet, bassoon, assorted percussion, piano, violin, viola and cello, Fantastic Mr. Fox is a modern fable about good vs. evil, animal vs. human, and nature vs. technology. With the help of the other creatures of the forest, Mr. Fox must outwit his enemies to keep his family safe. Director Erica Olden and designer Emily Carew Woodard bring Dahl's characters to life in Opera San Antonio’s new production. In the titular role is baritone John Brancy, 2013 Winner of the Marilyn Horne Song Competition. Brancy shares the stage with soprano Elizabeth Futral, who stars as Miss Hedgehog. Opera San Antonio Resident Conductor Andres Cladera conducts the production, opening September 23 with additional performances on September 26, 27 and 28.
Of Fantastic Mr. Fox, Picker explains:
I’ve always loved Dahl, because of the way the adult undercurrent runs underneath the story…The opera is full of symbolism, for those who want to find it. The underground world of the foxes is the unconscious natural world, and the above-ground world of the humans is cold and mechanistic. You could say there’s a green message there. I don’t really think of this as a children’s opera. It’s more of a family opera, which is a genre I’d like to encourage. It’s so much more interesting to a composer, to work on the child’s level and an adult level at once.
Later this season, Gil Rose leads the Boston Modern Orchestra Project in a concert performance of Fantastic Mr. Fox in the original version for full orchestra. The performance, a co-production with Odyssey Opera, takes place on December 7 at the New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall.
Details on the performances can be found at operasa.org.