Through the Looking Glass (opera)

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Through the Looking Glass
Chamber opera by Alan John
Alicebeggar.png
Alice Liddell, on whose life the opera is based
Librettist Andrew Upton
LanguageEnglish
Based on Through the Looking-Glass
by Lewis Carroll
Premiere
May 20, 2008 (2008-05-20)

Through the Looking Glass is a chamber opera by the Australian composer Alan John to a libretto by Andrew Upton, based on Lewis Carroll's 1871book and on the life of Alice Liddell, the girl for whom Carroll wrote the story's 1865 prequel, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland .

Contents

The work was commissioned by the Victorian Opera and the Malthouse Theatre in association with Opera Australia; it premiered on 20 May 2008 at the Merlyn Theatre (Malthouse Theatre). The performance time is approximately 70 minutes.

Roles

Role Voice type Premiere cast, 20 May 2008
Conductor: Richard Gill
Alice
(both the young girl in the story
and the adult Alice Liddell)
mezzo-soprano Dimity Shepherd
Lewis Carroll,
Train Driver,
The Red King,
Humpty Dumpty,
The White Knight
tenor David Hobson
Tiger Lily,
Passenger,
The White Queen,
Pudding,
Ensemble
soprano Margaret Haggart
Rose,
The Red Queen,
Passenger,
Sheep,
Unicorn,
Ensemble
mezzo-soprano Suzanne Johnston
Violet,
Passenger,
Tweedledee,
The White King,
Ensemble
tenor Kanen Breen
Daisy,
Guard,
Tweedledum,
Mutton
Ensemble
bass Gary Rowley
Young Alice,
Fawn
Stephanie Pidcock,
Jacqueline Bathman,
Dana Hehir,
alternating with:
Emilia Bertolini,
Francesca Codd,
Hayley Heath
DirectorMichael Kantor
Set & costume design Peter Corrigan
Lighting designPaul Jackson
Dramaturge Maryanne Lynch
Musical PreparationDavid McSkimming
Assistant ConductorNicholas Carter
Assistant DirectorAnna Tregloan

Synopsis

Prologue – Young Alice, Alice, Lewis Carroll

"Alas, poor Alice; locked forever in a dream", sings Young Alice. Will she ever grow up? Lewis Carroll arrives and interrupts the reverie telling them that he has a book in which the story is written in a backside down and inside out way.

Scene 1 The Mirror – Alice, ensemble

Alice begins her journey into looking-glass world – she enters a tulgey wood where she is uncertain of what she is seeking. A chorus reminds her to beware the manxome foe with his vorpal blade and especially avoid the Jabberwock.

Scene 2 Garden of Live Flowers – Alice, Rose, Violet, Daisy, Tiger Lily

Alice moves through the garden of live flowers, each one of whom has a personal remark to make on her appearance. Alice's threat that she will pick the live flowers sends them into a panic which ends with the arrival of the Red Queen.

Scene 3 Red Queen – Alice, Red Queen, Young Alice

The Red Queen gives Alice firm advice on how to behave in life, including how one needs to run to keep up with things, which leads to the entry of three Young Alices, who explain that what appears to be a game of chess, might be moved through and how she will meet a White Knight and finally end up as Queen.

Scene 4 The Train – Guard, Alice, passengers, The Driver, Young Alice

Alice travels by train to the third square in spite of the wishes of the passengers to throw her from the train.

Scene 5 The Forest – Alice, Fawn

Jumping a brook, the train lands in a forest where things have no names. Alice struggles to remember her name as does a Fawn whom she meets, and who finally flees from her once it has remembered its name in case Alice might try to tame it.

Scene 6 Tweedledum & Tweedledee – Young Alice, Tweedledum, Tweedledee, Alice

The tulgey wood leads her on to the fourth square, the home of the Tweedles, where a massive battle is about to ensue. The arrival of a monstrous crow prevents the battle and Alice finds herself ...

Scene 7 The White Queen – Alice, The White Queen, Young Alice

... addressing the White Queen, who explains the difficulties of living backwards and how to believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast. The Young Alices offer the advice that it is better to suffer now for crimes one might commit, to which Alice replies that she has never heard such a thing.

Scene 8 The River – Young Alice, Alice, Lewis Carroll, sheep

Alice, accompanied by Lewis Carroll and the Young Alices, embark on a boat journey on "a perfect summer's day". Alice leaning out of the boat trying to grasp the rushes and Carroll remembering how the story poured from him, while a sheep knits, unobserved by Alice.

Scene 9 Humpty Dumpty – Alice, Young Alice, Humpty Dumpty

Alice meets Humpty Dumpty ("Are you the Jabberwock?" asks Young Alice) who explains to her how words are very important and who also sings her his very disturbing song, "I sent a message to the fish."

Scene 10 The Battle – White King, Unicorn, Alice, Mutton, Pudding, Young Alice

Alice finds herself in a square where a picnic takes place. Alice is introduced to the food, oysters, a leg of mutton and a pudding. An argument breaks out amongst the picnickers over who eats what and how much until a voice calls out reminding them that they are deep in a tulgey wood. Is it the Jabberwock?

Scene 11 White Knight – White Knight, Alice

Alice, the mature woman, seeks permission from the White Knight to grow up. He captures her soul in a photograph.

Scene 12 Alice's Duet – Young Alice, Alice

The Young Alice and the grown-up Alice sing of memories of sunny days and "moving under sunny skies never seen by waking eyes."

Reception

The work was placed on the syllabus of the Victorian Certificate of Education Theatre Studies program.

Related Research Articles

Jabberwocky nonsense poem written by Lewis Carroll

"Jabberwocky" is a nonsense poem written by Lewis Carroll about the killing of a creature named "the Jabberwock". It was included in his 1871 novel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, the sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865). The book tells of Alice's adventures within the back-to-front world of Looking-Glass Land.

<i>Through the Looking-Glass</i> Book by Lewis Carroll

Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There is an 1871 novel by Lewis Carroll and the sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865). Alice again enters a fantastical world, this time by climbing through a mirror into the world that she can see beyond it. There she finds that, just like a reflection, everything is reversed, including logic.

<i>Alice in Wonderland</i> (1933 film) 1933 film by Norman Z. McLeod

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<i>Alice in Wonderland</i> (1985 film) 1985 two-part film directed by Harry Harris

Alice in Wonderland is a 1985 two-part made-for-television adventure family fantasy musical film of Lewis Carroll's books Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass (1871). An Irwin Allen production, it used a huge all-star cast of notable actors and actresses. The title role was played by Natalie Gregory, who wore a blonde wig for this miniseries. Alice in Wonderland was first telecast December 9, 1985, and December 10, 1985, at 8:00pm EST on CBS.

Vorpal sword phrase from "Jabberwocky" also used in popular culture

"Vorpal sword" and "vorpal blade" are phrases in Lewis Carroll's 1871 nonsense poem "Jabberwocky", which have been taken up in several other media. Carroll never provided a definition of what the term really meant. It has been adopted by the roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons, where "vorpal" blades have the ability to decapitate opponents on lucky strikes.

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Tweedledum and Tweedledee are fictional characters in an English nursery rhyme and in Lewis Carroll's 1871 book Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. Their names may have originally come from an epigram written by poet John Byrom. The nursery rhyme has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 19800. The names have since become synonymous in western popular culture slang for any two people who look and act in identical ways, generally in a derogatory context.

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A 1982 Broadway stage performance of Alice in Wonderland was telecast on PBS's Great Performances in 1983. Directed by Kirk Browning, it was produced by PBS affiliate WNET in New York. Black-and-white papier-mâché costumes aimed to re-create the book's original artwork by John Tenniel.

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But Never Jam Today was a 1979 musical with music by Bert Keyes and Bob Larimer, lyrics by Larimer, and a book by both Larimer and Vinnette Carroll. The musical is based on the works of Lewis Carroll, and takes its title from the "jam tomorrow" discussion in Carroll's 1871 novel Through the Looking-Glass.

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<i>Alice through the Looking Glass</i> (1998 film) 1998 television film directed by John Henderson

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References