City Lyric Opera will present the American premiere of THE GARDEN OF ALICE
One of New York’s most innovative opera companies, City Lyric Opera (CLO), presents the US premiere of Elizabeth Raum’s The Garden of Alice (1985) with soprano Laura Soto-Bayomi (Opera Colorado) in the main role of Alice. CLO’s modern twist on Lewis Carrol’s classic Alice in Wonderland takes audiences on an interactive journey down a whimsical rabbit hole. Inspired by similar immersive experiences (Sleep No More, Van Gogh), CLO offers audiences a chance to engage in a fantastical wonderland through a combination of live operatic performances, kaleidoscopic digital landscapes and a wacky range of costumes and accessories.
Marking the second of two main stage performances this season (the first was Viardot’s Cendrillon which was canceled mid-run due to COVID), Le Jardin d’Alice is perfect for the world we live in today. . “We wanted to choose an opera that was joyful and colorful, yet edgy and stimulating,” said Megan Gillis, co-founder and executive director of City Lyric Opera, and producer of CLO’s rendition of Alice’s Garden. “Alice’s Garden merges the worlds of adults and children in a fascinating, strange and beautiful way! Alice finds herself alone, bored and scared – a spooky place that we have all recently visited collectively.”
Like Alice herself, the opera The Garden of Alice has grown and shrunk to fit its circumstances. Raum, one of Canada’s foremost composers, first presented Alice in 1984 as a svelte little concert piece based on a concept for a children’s opera. She then turned it into an adult opera with a Kafkaesque ending, in which a wacky, quirky journey through Wonderland turns into a dark, violent, and treacherous journey. The complete opera in two acts was premiered in 1985 by Canada’s Pacific Opera Victoria. CLO’s 2022 staging of Alice provided the impetus for Raum to re-enact the opera for a small chamber orchestra – a sextet including piano, violin, cello, clarinet, bassoon and a battery of percussion instruments . CLO’s interpretation of the Wonderland landscape and characters are of different virtual realities and identities that society drowns in on the internet, social media, and more. “Like Alice, we are all fascinated by the illusion of an idyllic place, only to discover that everything is fake and convoluted,” says Gillis. “Like Alice’s rabbit hole, we all began the journey into the metaverse with so many of today’s digital interactions.”
The CLO production exists in two parts: 1) the Wonderland exhibition and 2) the opera The Garden of Alice. The exhibition consists of pre-recorded materials and projections that make up the body that is Wonderland in the form of a digital installation. The 90-minute opera follows Alice as she travels through the exhibit and discovers Wonderland and all of its characters in her search for the truth and for herself. Leveraging the Blue Building’s unique multi-room layout, a White Rabbit guides viewers through immersive architectural landscapes that showcase the opera, explore the characters’ stories, and showcase the sinister side of Wonderland.
Applauded for being “a most worthy company with high ideals (Voce di Meche)”, CLO is dedicated to providing affordable opera created by a diverse and inclusive team of New York-based artists. The role of Alice will be performed by soprano Laura Soto-Bayomi. Applauded by the Barre Montpelier Times Argus for her beautiful warm soprano voice and her heartbreaking lyricism, she quickly established herself as a versatile performer. She recently completed her artist residency with Opera Colorado.
About City Lyric Opera
Founded in 2016, City Lyric Opera (CLO) provides a unique experience for audiences by welcoming them into the lyrical art form without judgment, expectation or financial burden. CLO is based on four pillars: defending the new voices of opera; form and nurture a community of New York artists; make opera relevant; and make opera affordable and accessible to everyone. For more information, please visit CityLyricOpera.org.
On the picture : Soprano Laura Soto-Bayomi (to play the lead role of Alice)