Friday, October 7, 2011

Peter and the Wolf and the MSO = two of my favourite things

It’s a wolf-eats-duck world. But it’s a world in which little boys can find extraordinary courage and – with a little help from a crazy bird and a dreamy duck (and none whatsoever from a fat, lethargic cat and two hooligan hunters) – can catch the wolf.
From website

Something I may not have shared here before (or for some time anyway) is that I cry when I hear live music. I always have.

From the time I can remember, I have teared up when in the presence of good, live music. The beauty of going to the MSO (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra), when I am afforded the rare opportunity (Steve doesn't care much for such things and I guess I've never considered going on my own), is that I can sit there in a state of delicious comfort watching each instrument in turn. I have the luxury of time to soak up those gorgeous sounds. When I watch the flautist, I hear only the flute. When I watch the big bass drum, I watch the musician intently as they expertly count their bars and keep their eye on their conductor. When I hear the oboe, I swoon. It is my very favourite of all.

It's no surprise, then, that in Peter and the Wolf I reel when I hear the duck. That duck! Oh how I adore its sound.

I can remember clearly my first visit to see Peter and the Wolf at the live theatre. It was a shadow puppet show and I was so mesmerised, so overcome in fact, that I was deeply embarrassed. As a seven year-old in front of my classmates, it was overwhelming to have to try and explain why I was crying (at the beautiful sound of the orchestra) when they were just using the excursion as a chance to lark about. But the experience did not detrimentally change my deep affection of this sublime masterpiece by Sergei Prokofiev.

So it was that one sunny afternoon these school holidays, I was invited to see the MSO performing the music I so adored as a child (okay, and as an adult). I took the LGBB and we enjoyed our outing immensely in the city.

"Just a couple of ladies" on a sunny afternoon....
Off to see the symphony orchestra.

I will say from the outset that despite my deep love of this magical music and the stunning work in this modern stop-animation film by Suzie Templeton, I thought the first few minutes of this feature too graphic and violent for my sensitive five year-old daughter. I was nervous at this point. But I needn't have been so. The adaptation then developed into a dark, amusing, laugh-out-loud, entrancing dance (if you ask Lolly, whose fancy was tickled for most of the half hour performance) as Prokofiev surely always intended.

As an aside, did you know, Prokofiev wrote and composed Peter and the Wolf in just four days? Astounding genius.

The animation detail in the movie was, quite simply, mind-blowing. As an art piece, it was sublime. Lolly certainly responded emotively. When asked, she told me that although she's quite happy not to see it again (her inappropriate giggle-response at all the scary bits and the impromptu commentary in lieu of any speaking parts - ie. "Mmmmm, I'm hungry" she said, too loudly, when the wolf gulped down the gorgeous defenseless duck and then glared at Peter defiantly - could have told me that already), she really enjoyed it. Which character did she like best?

"The cat. And the bird. And Peter. And the duck..... Maybe not Grandpa because he was mean not letting Peter out."

So there you have it. My initial fears that this modernised version was toying with such a classic and, in turn, imprinting a much darker, grittier version on my child's memory - so far removed from the simplistic shadow animation rendition I had archived in my memory and which was rattled during the viewing of this recent showing - appears to have been unfounded.

I loved it. She loved it. But I repeat, this is not a film for younger children of the sensitive persuasion as it does have quite some graphic scenes that may surprise because they stray from the original narration you would be used to.

There was ample time for me to lean forward in the ACMI theatre in Melbourne's Federation Square - my first visit to this impressive building - and check on the orchestra. They were splendid as always. I cried, as always.

The duck - the beautiful, hapless duck - did not disappoint.

Please note: For this review, I received a free ticket for myself and my child.

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