Composer Unsuk Chin

Wednesday, 04. July 2007
07:30 pm – 10:00 pm

Duration est. 2 hours 30 minutes · 1. Teil (est. 07:30 pm - 08:35 pm ) · Interval (est. 08:35 pm - 09:05 pm ) · 2. Teil (est. 09:05 pm - 10:00 pm )

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Musikalische Leitung
Kent Nagano
Inszenierung, Bühne und Lichtkonzeption
Achim Freyer
Kostüme, Masken und Puppen
Nina Weitzner
Silke Holzach
Michael Bauer
Sophie Becker
Peter Heilker
Andrés Máspero

Sally Matthews
Julia Rempe
Mad Hatter / Duck
Dietrich Henschel
White Rabbit / March Hare / Badger
Andrew Watts
Mouse / Dormouse / Pat / Cook / Invisible Man
Guy de Mey
Ugly Duchess / Owl / Two
Cynthia Jansen
Queen of Hearts
Gwyneth Jones
King of Hearts / Old Man No.2 / Crab
Steven Humes
Old Man No.1 / Eaglet / Five / Executioner / Fish-Footman
Christian Rieger
Frog-Footman / Seven / Dodo / Mock Turtle
Rüdiger Trebes
Stefan Schneider
"Wind" / Invisible Creatures / Entourage / 6 Soldiers / 12 Jurors / Creatures
Solist des Kinderchors
Royal Children / Baby animals
Solist des Kinderchors
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World première and triumph of fantasy! The initially conventional Alice follows her dreams. There she meets a white rabbit with a waistcoat and a pocket watch, who guides her through Wonderland. Alice views it all with amazement and learns – finally returning to the real world richer for the experience. The moral of the tale: we should all follow more white rabbits.
Korean composer Unsuk Chin wrote this opera based on the eponymous novel by Lewis Carroll. Alice in Wonderland: modern music that pleases the ear. Modern opera – seductive, enchanting, sensuous – and anything but hyper-intellectual. Kent Nagano conducts. The fairy-tale setings and production are in the hands of Achim Freyer. Only white rabbits guide us better through Wonderland.


Scene I – Dream I
Alice opens a book in the library, which thereupon turns into a treasure chamber. She meets a boy, who’s fate is to carry a mummified cat, and two old men whom she asks in vain to flee before the door to the treasure chamber closes.

Scene II – The Pool of Tears
Alice follows the White Rabbit down a hole in the ground, falls into the depths and finds herself in front of several locked doors.
Alice opens one door with a key and sees a garden full of bright flowers, but the door is too small for her to get through into the garden.
Alice drinks from a little bottle with a label on it, on which the words ‚Drink Me‘ are printed, shrinks and is now too small to open the door with the big key.
Alice eats a cake from a little box which has a label with ‚Eat Me‘ printed on it, grows again and is now too big to get through the doors.
Alice startles the White Rabbit with her size, and he drops the kid gloves and the fan.
Alice cries, falls into a pool of her own tears and offends a mouse swimming in the pool by talking enthusiastically about her cat.
Alice and other wet creatures dry off as they listen to the mouse telling them the driest story he knows.
Alice again mentions her cat and all the animals flee.

Scene III – In the House of the White Rabbit
Alice has to look for the gloves and the fan and enters the house. Her body grows again while the White Rabbit sings a love song at the windows and the door.

Interlude I – Advice from a Caterpillar
Alice hears words of wisdom from the caterpillar about the advantages of change.

Scene IV – Pig and Pepper
Alice meets the Fish and the Frog, footmen in livery, as well as the Duchess with the Baby, the Cook and the Cheshire Cat.
Alice is shocked by the ill-treatment of the Baby at the hands of the Duchess and the Cook and sings a lullaby for the baby, which turns into a pig.
Alice asks the Cheshire Cat, whose body is disappearing all the time, about the way to somewhere and is sent to see the March Hare.

Scene V – A Mad Tea Party
Alice meets the March Hare, the Dormouse and the Mad Hatter, for whom time has stood still and whom nobody has been able to help.
Alice is excluded from the tea party.

Scene VI – The Croquet Ground
Alice comes across three gardeners who are trying to turn white roses into red ones for the Queen of Hearts.
Alice is invited by the Queen of Hearts to a game of croquet with no rules, which ends in chaos, and the Queen orders the bodyless cat to be beheaded. The executioner fails to do this, as one cannot cut the head off a cat with no body.

Interlude II
Alice is rescued from the philosophizing Duchess by the Queen and taken to eat Mock Turtle soup until soldiers call people to come to court for a trial.

Scene VII – The Trial or Who Stole the Tarts?
Alice is called upon as the third witness, after the Mad Hatter and the Cook, to testify about what happened to the tarts.
Alice is not afraid as she realizes that the Court and the Queen of Hearts are ridiculous, nothing but a pack of playing cards.

Finale – Dream II
At the request of an invisible man, Alice searches in vain for seeds in the infertile black soil of the garden, whereupon the invisible man puts seeds in her hand.
Alice sows flowers which turn into shining light.

© Bavarian State Opera

Achim Freyer
Thoughts on Alice

This opera is about the question of existence and of identity: Am I large, small, strong or suppressed? In what relationship do I stand to the world, and to my fellow human beings? How does nature overpower me, or how do I control it? These are global questions that involve all of us. Today we are no longer seeking our identity, but faking it – with the models and clichés that everyday life offers us. We seldom rely on our creativity and imagination, or on possible autonomy.
Alice lives through a story. Everything dream-like or nightmare-like that appears around her is not developed, so she has to learn how to cope with these episodic splinters of her thoughts and feelings. She is an intrepid person who is also capable of learning, and is going through the process of maturing. To some extent this makes her an exemplary character, yet it is difficult to imitate her, for otherwise the spectator would again lose his own identity to this figure. She has to remain as open as possible, so that the spectators successfully discover themselves in her. They are not turned into voyeurs and involved in the action as passive onlookers – instead they help to determine the course of that action themselves. Everything that flares up is so fragmentary that one immediately completes it, and interprets it according to one's own personal experience.
I am trying to portray a state of timelessness by means of alienation. In these timeless events, which should be seen as parables, the spectator will find connections with his own reality. Demonstrating this alienation and detachment does not mean that one is free of the present. On the contrary – in theatre I have to create a parable so precise that our present is recognizable to its fullest extent.
Theatre is a form of communication with the public, and when I speak I have to speak loud enough for people to hear and see. That is why make-up is so important. Some actors are shocked by that and say: "I look like a clown!" But where does the clown come from? The circus is large and the audience is a long way off, and that is why this kind of make-up has prevailed. The inner core of a character can be conveyed externally by means of masks.
Characters are also defined by the space through which they move. The space around a character – the relationship of proportion – determines whether that character is large or small, and that has to be represented in the theatre in continual changeability.
Portrayal of people is always done through consolidation of character – and that consolidated character then has the opportunity to personify someone prototypically, to make their innermost personality shine out, and to make their very existence credible and intelligible.

© Bavarian State Opera
Translation: David Ingram

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Kent Nagano, geboren in Kalifornien, war Musikdirektor des Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, der Opéra National de Lyon, des Hallé Orchestra und der Los Angeles Opera sowie künstlerischer Leiter und Chefdirigent des Deutschen Symphonieorchesters Berlin. Von 2006 bis 2013 war er Generalmusikdirektor der Bayerischen Staatsoper. Seit der Spielzeit 2015/16 ist er Generalmusikdirektor der Hamburgischen Staatsoper sowie Chefdirigent des Philharmonischen Staatsorchesters Hamburg. In seiner Zeit an der Bayerischen Staatsoper leitete er zahlreiche Neuproduktionen, darunter Billy Budd, Chowanschtschina, Eugen Onegin, Idomeneo, Ariadne auf Naxos, Wozzeck, Lohengrin, Die schweigsame Frau, Saint François d’Assise sowie die Uraufführungen von Wolfgang Rihms Das Gehege, Unsuk Chins Alice in Wonderland, Minas Borboudakis’ liebe.nur liebe und Jörg Widmanns Babylon. (Stand: 2020)

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