Children and opera. It's a tough call, and sometimes even Hansel and Gretel can turn out to be too ponderous and scary for youngsters.
The good news is that Donald Pippin, founder and director of San Francisco's Pocket Opera, which performs chamber operas in English translations, has come to the rescue with a short opera that is meant to introduce children (and adults) to the art form. It's called Alice in Opera Land, and in the course of an hour the heroine (yes, the very same one from the Lewis Carroll tale) encounters the tempestuous Carmen, the title character of The Barber of Seville and Rossini's Cinderella, among others.
The cast features Eileen Morris, Emily Stern, Todd Donovan, Joseph Meyers and Jena Hunt.
Alice in Opera Land is being performed this month at three venues in California: Dec. 13 at Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek; Dec. 14 at Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts; and Dec. 20 and 21 at California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco.
Pocket Opera was founded by Pippin in the mid-'70s and has grown in leaps and bounds from the early days when it was in residence at San Francisco's Old Spaghetti Factory. Pippin's English translations of operas -- performed by companies ranging from the San Francisco Opera to Washington Opera and Houston Grand Opera -- have been hailed for their accessibility and their "singability." Upcoming productions later this season at Pocket Opera include Martha, Tales of Hoffmann, Lucrezia Borgia, The Magic Flute, Don Pasquale, I Masnadieri, Teseo, The Merry Widow, and La Belle Helene.
For more information, call (415) 575-1102.
-- By Rebecca Paller