Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has been given various musical adaptations, but this one, by composer Will Todd and librettist Maggie Gottlieb, has been unusually successful in live performance and is worth the attention of anyone intrigued by the problem of opera for families. It's important to specify Gottlieb's contribution, for Todd in many respects follows her lead. She hits all the high points among Alice's lines from the novel, but she summarizes more than she transcribes, avoiding Victorian mannerism. The changes are especially evident when it comes to Wonderland's denizens, for whom Gottlieb and Todd craft a modern language that owes a great deal to the musical stage. Consider the Caterpillar, who laments his sleepy lot in The Wonderland Blues (track 9). Blues and jazz play a large role in Todd's score, but the work remains an opera rather than a musical, defined by its skill in handling the ensembles that Carroll's tale so richly suggests, and that Gottlieb and Todd milk fully for comic effect. The singers on this Signum release make the lack of printed text a non-issue, and they capture the spontaneity of Opera Holland Park's popular live performance. Major kudos go to Signum's studio engineering for the transparency and accessibility. This delightful work might easily cross the Atlantic and supplant Gian Carlo Menotti's short operas in school and club productions.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Alice's Adventures in Wonderland|