There are few books beloved as much as children’s picture book Where the Wild Things Are, Published originally in 1963, the book was written and drawn by American writer Maurice Sendak. Almost immediately upon its release, it found critical acclaim among the literary community, winning the Caldecott Medal in 1964 and selling 10 million copies in the United States, with those sales reaching 19 million worldwide internationally. It was voted the number one picture book in a 2012 survey. Its also been adapted numerous times, first as an animated short film in 1974, 1983 opera, and then as a big picture screen adaptation in 2009, directed by Spike Jonze, starring Max Records, Catherine Keener, and Mark Ruffalo.
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The story is a simple one, focusing on a young child called Max who puts on a wolf costume and terrorizes his mother. Sent to bed without supper, he imagines himself visiting an island full of monsters where the titular Wild Things make him their king. But Max grows lonely among them and returns home, finding his dinner waiting for him.
Celebrate the anniversary of the book’s publication by cracking it open and having another read through. Chances are you already own a copy. Its one of the most famous children’s books in the world for a good reason, after all. Happy birthday, Wild Things!
Coraline, the 2002 novel by Neil Gaiman, has already been adapted into a graphic novel, a film, and a musical. Now the terrifying tale is being turned into an opera.
Image Via Barbican
This new adaptation of the story is composed by Mark-Anthony Turnage with text written by Rory Mullarky. Two singers, Robyn Allegra Parton and Mary Bevan, are sharing the title role as it is too taxing for one person to sing more than once a day. Kitty Whately plays the pivotal role of the mother and Other Mother.
The opera largely maintains the creepy aesthetic of the book. The Other Mother still has her big, black button eyes, this time sewn with red thread and worn by the actress through the use of a goggle-like device. The music is similar in both worlds in the story, but it helps set the mood as it takes on a more sinister and distorted quality once Coraline enters the other world.
Image Via Barbican
The production has been rated as suitable for audiences age eight and older. When questioned about whether or not the creepier aspects of the story needed to be toned down, Turnage toldThe Guardian, “There is a school of thought that says you should protect children from scary stories. I think that’s ridiculous. It’s what growing up is all about.” This largely echoes the sentiment expressed by Gaiman himself in the introduction of the tenth-anniversary edition of the book where he says that being brave doesn’t mean that you aren’t scared:
“Being brave means you are scared, really scared, badly scared, and you do the right thing anyway.”
Coraline will be at the Barbican in London from March 29th through April 7th.