'Where the Wild Things Are' in New York

Billed as ‘Family Opera in Concert,’ Oliver Knussen’s delightful take on Sendak’s evergreen classic 'Where The Wild Things Are', came to New York City Opera this month.  There were full houses on April 5th and 9th, and NYC Opera Artistic Director, George Steel, announced : “You are my favorite kind of audience.”

The New York Times wrote:
'Mr. Knussen’s inventive adaptation of “Where the Wild Things Are” has had considerable success since he introduced the final version in London in 1984. An important modernist composer, Mr. Knussen did not write down to children in this score. The musical language, while often gritty and thick-textured, abounds in energy, atmosphere, alluring sounds and visceral drama. As the orchestra began the piece, with ominous stirrings in the low strings, rumbling in the percussion and quietly piercing harmonies, a little girl seated near me turned to her father and said, “That sound must mean a lot of things.”
 
Of course Mr. Knussen had a sure-fire subject to work with. Is there any child (or adult) who does not know this story? When we meet the misbehaving Max, dressed in a wolf suit, he is tearing up his room and destroying his toys. His exasperated mother sends him to bed without supper. But he escapes in a dream to a forest, the place of the Wild Things, who, overcoming their initial wariness, crown him king. In the midst of a frenzied dance, Max realizes that he misses home. When he wakes up, his good mother has left him some dinner after all.
 
The City Opera took advantage of its new pit which was elevated to stage level, allowing the children to see the musicians at work. The action was played on platforms behind the orchestra. Max and his mother (the mezzo-soprano Leslie Davis) have texts to sing. But the Wild Things (Lawrence Jones, Andrew Sauvageau, Adam Cannedy, David Salsbery Fry and Ms. Davis in a second role) mostly sing an assortment of made-up animal sounds. Their prancing and dancing, devised by Mr. Curran, delighted the young operagoers, or so it seemed by the giggling all around me.'
The New York Times (Anthony Tommasini), 11 April 2011