Enchantia, Opera by Marko Ivanović
If you are trying to find a work that will get your children hooked on opera, you need look no further than Marko Ivanović’s contemporary classic, Enchantia. Inspired by the British naturalist Gerald Durrell’s 1974 novel, The Talking Parcel, Enchantia takes us on a fantastic journey in which mythical animals vie for control over a book that holds the laws for the magical world they live in; a battle between the evil cockatrices and the forces of good, a troupe of creatures led by a frog, a parrot and their human companion, Penelope.
The result of a commission from the Národní divadlo to meet its aim of introducing opera to the next generation, Enchantia mesmerised the audience that enjoyed its premiere at the National Theatre in Prague on 14 January 2012; at just ninety minutes in length, the attention never wavers for a moment.
Ivanović had worked previously with his director and designer team of Petr and Matěj Forman when he was asked by Miloš Forman to provide the music for a revival in 2007 of Jiří Suchý and Jiří Šlitr’s jazz opera, A Walk Worthwhile. Impressed by Petr and Matěj’s flamboyant visual inventiveness, Ivanović did not hesitate in inviting them to collaborate with him on Enchantia.
Enchantia cannot fail to delight youngsters. This is a world that can draw a direct line to the fantasies of the past masters of fairy-tale writing, from the Brothers Grimm to C. S. Lewis. And Ivanović’s gift for tonality ensures that the music is accessible to everyone.
Adults are not forgotten either. In an ingenious twist, before the action even starts, we are told that it is the authors of the opera themselves, Ivanović and the Formans, who have discovered the whereabouts of Enchantia and persuaded its inhabitants to act out their adventures in the Národní divadlo; a brilliant conceit that breaks down the space between art and reality to give Enchantia an existence beyond the theatres it is performed in.
More tricks follow to draw you into Enchantia’s realm, but naming them here would spoil the surprise. Rest assured, an outing to Enchantia is the perfect way to capture the imaginations of those experiencing opera for the very first time.