by Mike Telin
Complicated relationships between children and their parents have often served as inspiration for opera. Most people know the disaster that awaits Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel after they misbehave and their mother sends them to the haunted forest to look for strawberries. In Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges, after being scolded by his mother, a young boy destroys everything in the room — later the objects come to life and show him the error of his ways.
A new addition to opera with a child/parent theme is Rachel J. Peters’ The Wild Beast of the Bungalow with libretto by Royce Vavrek. The work, presented by Oberlin’s Winter Term Opera and directed by Christopher Mirto, will receive its world premiere on Wednesday, January 29 in Warner Concert Hall. Additional performances run from Friday, January 31 through Sunday, February 2. All begin at 7:30 pm and will be followed by a talkback with members of the artistic staff, performers, and the creative team. The event is free, but reservations are required. The Wild Beast of the Bungalow is the inaugural work of the Oberlin Opera Commissioning Project.
With a duration of 90 minutes and a cast of one coloratura soprano with eight additional principals playing multiple roles, the opera is played out in three sections. The plot unfolds in the bedroom of a nameless eleven-year-old Girl, where, over the course of a few days, a mermaid, a family of stuffed prairie dogs, and singing groups of chickenpox and shingles force her to come to terms with what it means to care for others and to allow others to care for you. [Read more…]