Elena Kats-Chernin: Jim Button at the Komische Oper
This season sees two new operas for young audiences by composer Elena Kats-Chernin: Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver was premiered at the Komische Oper in Berlin in November, and June brings her new operatic version of The Wind in the Willows at the Kassel Staatstheater.
Elena Kats-Chernin’s new opera for children, Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver, was premiered at the Komische Opera in Berlin in November. Based on the much-loved novel by Michael Ende, Jim Knopf und Lukas der Lokomotivführer, the stagework is the composer’s second foray into the genre for this opera house, following the success of Snow White and the 77 Dwarfs with 30 performances since its premiere in 2015. Opening for the festive season, the 18 performances of Jim Button run into February.
“The children are perfectly entertained: by Susanne Felicitas Wolf’s libretto, which skilfully gives the story-line both life and a fluent sense of communication; by Kats-Chernin’s musically cleverly-structured Singspiel, which makes use of exotic elements and instruments such as the sheng, a Chinese mouth organ… Kats-Chernin’s second children’s opera for the Komische Oper is impressive above all in its central scene, Jim and Luke’s descent into hell… accompanied by psychedelic circling video projections.”
“Elena Kats-Chernin has shaped the extended story through cheerful and colourful music with dance rhythms predominating… and pithy musical orchestration… Kats-Chernin has composed two splendid interludes: one which portrays in a spirited and powerful way the sea voyage of the amphibious locomotive, and another for the journey through the ‘valley of twilight’ with its echoes, increasing in volume up to the catastrophe.”
2019 was a bumper year for Kats-Chernin stageworks in addition to Jim Button. Her modern take on Iphis with its gender fluidity was a success in a production at the Staatsoper Hannover, and she took centre-stage at the Sydney Opera House with her Whiteley about the famed Australian artist in an Opera Australia premiere directed by David Freeman. June this year brings the first night of her new The Wind in the Willows at the Kassel Staatstheater, the first opera based on Kenneth Grahame’s classic with a new libretto by Jens Luckwaldt.
The renewed interest in contemporary operas for young audiences continues apace. Alongside Kats-Chernin, Pierangelo Valtinoni has also been enjoying a busy schedule over the past two years with 75 performances of his works. His Pinocchio was a popular hit in recent stagings in Vienna, Turin, Venice and Daejon in South Korea, while The Wizard of Oz has been programmed in Zürich, Berlin, Erfurt and Turin.
For a listing of new youth operas published by Boosey & Hawkes please email [email protected].
> Further information on Work: Jim Knopf und Lukas der Lokomotivführer
Photo: Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver at the Komische Oper in Berlin.