Having never been to an opera before I was ready for something different to a night at Nandos and figured a little culture never hurt anyone. I was quite looking forward to Unsuk Chin’s first opera Alice in Wonderland which The Barbican describe this as “A glittering work by Chin and librettist David Henry Hwan” and that it include, “riotous exhilaration and jet-black humour”. I can only deduce that Chi, Hwan and the Barbican hate mankind. It was about as riotously funny - and entertaining - as watching a radiator being installed.
|Making a break for it?|
There was the obligatory soprano and tenor vocals but this was forced into spoken words with all the direction of a 2-year old who had been kept up way past his bedtime and was a bit cranky. The real sopranos would have taken them out, but as they aren’t around we are forced to deal with what I can only describe as an exercise in how to make Alice in Wonderland painfully God Damned boring!
The caterpillar was represented by a saxophone player who I think may have rohypnoled herself before coming on stage to ensure she hit as few notes as possible. On and on and ON it went, butchering any innocent or entertaining aspect of the original writing. I counted three people asleep and saw several others looking longingly at the exit. I felt their pain but for some reason we all stuck it out and while the people behind us laughed at the ‘funny’ bits I wondered what I had done to my sister that she would punish me so by bringing me to the seventh layer of hell.
Strangely it hasn’t put me off going to a real opera. And while it’s very possible the show was totes fab and my sister and I are complete philistines, it seems much more likely the glowing reviews are Emperor’s New Clothes offerings. A bunch of people saying how awesome something is because it was the most nonsensical piece of arse clowning they had come across.
The one good thing was that it ended and now our house has a new threat. Be nice or I’ll take you to a conceptual Opera!