The Magic Pudding – The Opera returns to Melbourne just in time to commemorate 100th anniversary of a timeless fair dinkum Aussie classic fairy tale. Commissioned in 2013, composer Calvin Bowman, librettist Anna Goldsworthy, and director Cameron Menzies deliver an enchanting adaptation of Norman Lindsay’s comic fantasy that is ideally suited for a children’s opera.
Bunyip Bluegum, Bill Barnacle and Sam Sawnoff and the cranky surly Albert the Pudding quickly form a society of Pudding Owners and set out to engage a menagerie of characters, in a few set pieces involving snappy mishaps where the scheming Wombat and Possum (the Pudding Snatchers) attempt to steal the magic Pud. Clearly aimed at children, the ruses the villains attempt are brisk and easy to follow, with the gullible heroes easily falling to straightforward deception, if only to quickly resolve matters by trickery and plenty of fisticuffs.
Adorable costumes, strong performances by the stellar cast, and a beautiful score from the overture to the rousing quartet finale deliver a fine work to rival any bigger production. Particularly inspiring was to introduce a narrator character and an adult and youth choir that elevates the storytelling to another level.
The Magic Pudding is an outstanding introduction to opera for children, if not to anyone young at heart who feels that the medium is often thought as an inaccessible performance art. With a snappy run time of just over an hour, and infectious charm and humor, this musical reverie hits the mark for the scores in the audience that were transported back to childhood nostalgia.
– Christian G.
Christian is an international man of mystery; lover of books, cats, and the performing arts; moonlighting as a finance professional by day.