Where the Wild Things Are
is a 'fantasy'
in one act by Oliver Knussen
, his Opus 20, to a libretto
, based on Sendak's
own children's book
of the same title. Knussen composed the
music over the period 1979 to 1983, on commission from the Opèra
In form and subject matter the work relates to Maurice Ravel
's L'enfant et les
, as well as Stravinsky
's The Nightingale
. Knussen also included
a number of musical quotations
's La boîte à
and the bell motif from the Coronation Scene of
's Boris Godunov
. Robin Holloway
has noted affinities of the
score with aspects of Harrison
's Punch and
's Death in
version of the opera was premiered in Brussels at the
Théâtre de la
Monnaie, under the title Max et les Maximontres,
on 28 November 1980, conducted by Ronald Zollman.
continued work on the score, and the final version was first
performed by Glyndebourne Touring Opera at the National Theatre, London on 9 January
1984, with the composer conducting.
The first US production
was at the Minnesota Opera
September 1985, directed by Frank Corsaro.. The same Minnesota
production was given at the New York
in November 1987.
||Premiere Cast, 28 November 1980
(Conductor: Ronald Zollman)
|Tzippy, female Wild Thing
|Wild Thing with Beard
|Wild Thing with Horns
|Rooster Wild Thing
|Bull Wild Thing
|Goat Wild Thing
The published score notes that "all the Wild Things may be played
by dancers on stage with singers (amplified) off-stage".
Max is a rambunctious boy who dresses in a wolf suit. After he
throws a tantrum, Mama (his mother) confines him to his room. Max
then escapes in his dreams to a forest, and then to the island of
the Wild Things. The Wild Things eventually hail Max as their king,
and the "coronation" culminates in a frenzied dance, the Wild
Rumpus. In the course of the Rumpus, Tzippy, the female Wild Thing,
loses her head, which causes Max to halt the Rumpus. At the end,
the dream is over, and Max starts to eat the food his Mama had left
for him during his dream time.
- Unicorn-Kanchana DKP 9044 / Arabesque 6535-L: Rosemary Hardy,
Mary King, Hugh Hetherington, Stephen Richardson, Stephen
Rhys-Williams, Andrew Gallacher; London Sinfonietta; Oliver Knussen, conductor
- Deutsche Grammophon 469
556-2: Lisa Saffer, Mary King, Christopher Gillett, Quentin Hayes,
David Wilson-Johnson, Stephen Richardson; London Sinfonietta; Oliver Knussen, conductor
- Holloway, Robin, "First Performances: Where the Wild Things
Are" (June 1981). Tempo (New Ser.),
137: pp. 36-38.
- Bray, Trevor, "Recordings - Knussen: Where the Wild Things Are"
(March 1986). Tempo (New Ser.), 156: pp.
- Galloway, Malcolm, "Record Reviews - Oliver Knussen:
Higglety Pigglety Pop!; Where the Wild Things
Are" (October 2001). Tempo (New Ser.),
218: pp. 62-63.