a chamber opera by Susan Botti

Flyer and Reviews from the New York Premiere, St. Clement's Church, December 1994.

Flyer text:

NY Concert Premiere
A Chamber Opera by Susan Botti

In Theatrical Concert

Featuring: Susan Botti, Peter Gilis, Diane Kesling, Mathew Lau, Douglas Perry, and introducing Carly Baruh.

Dorothy Danner (Director), Phil Denslow (Animation), C. Jones (Design) / O. Maloney (Lights)

Conducted by Pablo Zinger, H. Campo (fl), D. Hoff (cl), W. Weiskopf (sax), G. Bernard (tbn),
Ya-Wen Lin (harp), O. Kirk-Foster (pno), M. Pugliese (perc), M. McCormick (cbs)

ST. CLEMENT'S CHURCH, 423 West 46th St. (9/10 Aves)
December 15 & 16 at 8 pm.

'Wonderglass' has been made possible in part by the sponsorship of the NYFA,
with fundlng provided by the NEA, The Greenwall Foundation, and individuaI donors

Photo: J. Langford

Reviews text:

from The New York Times, The Arts Section, In Performance
December 20, 1994

A Kaleidoscopic Dream With a Heroine Named Alice

St. Clement's Church

No one ever expected that David Del Tredici's "Final Alice" would be the last musical word on Lewis Carroll's "Alice" stories, not even from Mr. Del Tredici. But here is something altogether different: Susan Botti's "Wonderglass." a chamber opera in progress that was given its New York premiere on Thursday evening.

The work explores Carroll's imaginings and characters as if in a dream, and although the production was billed as a concert performance, it was in fact extensively staged with direction by Dorothy Danner and lighting by Darrel Maloney.

Ms. Botti, who studied composition at the Manhattan School of Music, is also a fine soprano, and it was hard to know what to admire most about her efforts here: her music, her singing, or the theatrical flair and imagination she brought to both. Her score traverses a kaleidoscopic mix of styles, from jazz through Weill to Neo-Classical Stravinsky and beyond, with remarkable assurance.

In its mordant humor (with apt quotations from Gershwin, Mozart and Donizetti in the Queen of Hearts' mad scene) and its savvy, nightmarish treatment of seemingly childish material, the music evokes Harrison Birtwistle's "Punch and Judy." In trying to be cute without being sweet, Ms. Botti strikes hardly a false note until the unaccountably saccharine final number, with its l960's folk-pop hortatory flavor.

The piece incorporates two fine animated film sequences by Phil Denslow and includes a part for a young Alice, played here by Carly Baruh. Although only 10, Ms. Baruh is a smooth vetetan, having created the role In the work's premiere early last year in Detroit.

The excellent cast was filled out by Diane Kesling, mezzo-soprano; Douglas Perry and Peter Gillis, tenors, and Matthew Lau, bass-baritone. Pablo Zinger conducted the fine, versatile eight-member band. Now it's time to get the thing on stage and see how it works.


from the Voice, Choices Section, Music
December 13, 1994

You can't turn Alice in Wonderland into an opera, no way, nohow. But Cleveland composer Susan Botti has tried, wisely taking the original as a point of departure and abandoning herself to its surrealism. Certainly her results, studded with avant-garde but listener-friendly choral effects and effective instrumentals, are a lot more intriguing than David Del Tredici's drunken romanticism in his Alice series. St. Clement's Church, at 8. (Gann)