Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 28°C

min temp: 20°C

Five-day forecast

Oliver Knussen’s operatic adaptations of the late Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s books are a delight

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

Part of the November Weekender – a family-oriented explosion of free artistic events in the building’s public spaces – the Barbican celebrates the work of leading British composer and conductor Oliver Knussen with a double bill of his two fantasy operas, Where the Wild Things Are and Higglety Pigglety Pop!

In these faithful stagings of two classic children’s books (written by the late Maurice Sendak), Knussen teams an innate sense of drama and psychological insight with designer-director Netia Jones’s specially commissioned multi-media stagings and the musical might of the Britten Sinfonia. The result is a delightfully thrilling journey into the imagination of Maurice Sendak that leaves one longing to be a child again.

Wild Things sees Max (soprano Claire Booth) voyage to a far off island in a paper boat, after his mother sends him to bed without dinner. Sendak’s illustrated Wild Things are projected onto a vast white backdrop behind the orchestra and percussively-voiced off-stage, leaving Max alone as a tiny silhouetted figure against a back-drop of rambunctiousness. Sendak’s creatures are so vivid they barely need to be animated in order to take on a life of their own, but thankfully the multi-media treatment stays true to the pen and ink line drawings and watching these creatures cavort wildly across the backdrop is a pure joy.

In Higglety Pigglety Pop! Jennie the dog (Lucy Schaufer in full Sealyham Terrier outfit) embarks on a quest to find ‘experience’ and answer the conundrum: ‘There must be more to life than having everything.’

En route, she meets a colourful array of characters (despite the black and white staging) including a sartorial cat, a baby-eating lion and a pig selling sandwiches. Here, we see Sendak asking some big questions of his young readers, some of which may have been lost due to the decision to only surtitle Wild Things.

There is a reason why, as adults, we still pick up these storybooks to read to our children decades after their conception; this isn’t just music for or about children. These operas teach us about the power of dreams and encourage us to confront our deepest fears – be they the perennial gremlins under the bed or the troubles that haunt us adults. A delight – and surprisingly thought-provoking.

* Where the Wild Things Are and Higglety Pigglety Pop! at the Barbican, Silk Street, EC2, on Saturday November 3.

Share this article

0 comments

Click here to read the Digital Edition of the Romford Recorder on screen
Use our Wedding site to help you plan your big day!
At WeddingSite we know how much you have to organise for your wedding day, that's why we have designed a set of FREE, simple-to-use tools to make the planning process easy & hassle-free. FIND OUT MORE
Find a date using our online dating and friend finder
You can meet new friends, find romance or simply meet up online with people sharing similar interests and hobbies. FIND OUT MORE
Find a local business using our online directory search
Need a plumber? Or a florist? Or anything else? Search our business directory to find Romford businesses in just a few seconds. FIND OUT MORE
Family notices from the Romford Recorder, with readers' tributes
In memoriam, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, best wishes & special days. FIND OUT MORE

Celebrity / Showbiz See all

Drake has cancelled his Wireless London performance (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for ESPN)

Fans devastated after Drake cancels Wireless London festival

Rapper Drake has pulled out of his headline appearances at this weekend’s Wireless Festival in London, leaving fans devastated.

Read full story »