Boston Modern Orchestra Project / Odyssey Opera Orchestra / Gil Rose

Tobias Picker: Fantastic Mr. Fox

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Fantastic Mr. Fox, Roald Dahl's 1970 children's novel, has been adapted into a stage play, a musical, a stop-action animated film, and a three-act opera, the last being what composer Tobias Picker describes specifically as a family opera. While children have taken to it and enjoyed its humorous story, adults can appreciate the satirical subtext that gives the work its social relevance. Yet as engaging and pertinent as the libretto by Donald Sturrock is, the tuneful and highly accessible music may be the most appealing aspect of this work, and Picker has scored a success with the song from Act I, "Boggis, Bunce, and Bean (One Fat, One Short, One Lean)," which children find especially catchy. Stylistically, Picker's Fantastic Mr. Fox is, at times, reminiscent of Stravinsky, particularly in the distinctive writing for woodwinds, the rhythmic manipulation of the text, and the flexible but melodic tonality that may bring The Rake's Progress to mind. Featuring a large cast, with John Brancy as Mr. Fox, Krista River as Mrs. Fox, Andrew Craig Brown as Boggis, Edwin Vega as Bunce, and Gabriel Preisser as Bean, along with the Foxcubs, sung by Abigail Long, Abi Tenenbaum, Zoe Tekeian, and Madeleine Kline, the recording is fully intelligible, thanks to the singers' impeccable diction, while the Boston Children's Chorus, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and Odyssey Opera, under the direction of Gil Rose, give the score a clean and crisp sound that heightens its wit.

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