Where the Wild Things opera has finally been released in DVD, just as the popular Spike Jonze movie version hits the theaters. Oliver Knussen’s fantasy opera, produced by the Glyndebourne Opera (1985), with libretto and designs by Maurice Sendak, is a captivating musical experience for kids. Sendak’s quirky children’s book has become a classic since its publication in 1963, and this charming opera is destined to become a musical classic too. (In a humorous postscript, Sendak in an interview said he patterned the monsters after his relatives!)
Also on the DVD is Knussen’s children’s opera Higglety Pigglety Pop! based on Sendak’s story of the same name. See the video preview.
Where the Wild Things Are/Higglety Pigglety Pop! DVD is now available at Music in Motion.
Teaching tip: Discuss with students their reactions to these 3 versions of Where the Wild Things Are: the book, the movie, and the opera. What are the differences in how a story is told in these three artistic mediums:
1. through written words and illustrations in a book
2. through a live-action movie
3. through music in a staged opera
What strengths and weaknesses does each art form possess in conveying the story? Do you react with different emotions to each? Which of the three forms stirs your imagination the most? How does music help tell the story? Do you enjoy and remember better the music of the film or the opera?