A guide to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

14 June 2021
Side by side, Alice and White Rabbit look onwards, towards Wonderland

Lewis Carroll’s much-loved classic, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland tells the tale of a young girl, Alice, who follows a white rabbit down a rabbit-hole and into the spectacular world of the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat. Jam tarts, living chess pieces, flamingo croquet mallets and a bottle of something mysterious, are all vital ingredients in the original fantastical world. A Wonderland that has now been turned into a 65 minute opera by Will Todd (composer) and Maggie Gottlieb (librettist) which WNO are staging, outdoors, at the end of June.

Originally created for Opera Holland Park by director Martin Duncan with designer Leslie Travers and choreographer Adam Scown, this family-friendly opera features music that takes inspiration from jazz, blues, and musicals as well as the expected opera. The action starts on a miserable day in town when a downpour forces Alice and her family to seek shelter in a pet shop. Once in there, Alice is engaged in conversation with a white rabbit…

This leads, as we all know, to a trip down the rabbit-hole where, in this enchanting version, we meet the main characters of the Queen of Hearts, Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat, Caterpillar, March Hare, Duchess, Dormouse and Tweedledum and Tweedledee, alongside Alice and her family, and the White Rabbit, of course – there’s even a special appearance by a certain bottle. But all is not wonderful in this world, the Queen is angry and is making everyone pay with the help of her sidekicks, the crazy twins. It is up to Alice to save the day.

The audience are taken on a trip too, in this promenade performance, where the fantastical set pieces that bring to life Carroll’s world of wonder include the playing card army, the inhabitants of the flower garden and the Mad Hatter’s tea party. All adding to the magical mystery tour feeling of this fun production that will please both parents and off-spring, as much as a purely adult audience. As the Telegraph put it in a review of Opera Holland Park’s performances:

‘The most charming, least condescending opera for children I have seen. Todd’s instrumentation is skilful, too, allowing every word of Maggie Gottlieb’s clever libretto to be heard over the dozen-strong band in open-air acoustics.’

Sure to entrance audiences from three years old to grandma and grandpa, this truly is an opera for all the family. Get a taster with these photos before you see it for yourself…