Charles Kingsley’s children’s classic is brought to life in a refreshingly contemporary mode for Sydney Fringe.
'The Water-Babies: A Folk Opera' is a new take on a popular Victorian fairy tale. Resonating with the current sign of the times, two poignant themes explored in the opera are environmental degradation, and social injustice (especially those injustices affecting children).
'The Water-Babies: A Folk Opera' is a fresh interpretation of Charles Kingsley's timeless fable, and has been enjoyed by children and adults alike for over 150 years. Those well-versed with the classic will recognise all of the familiar markings of magic and other-worldliness peppered throughout the opera. From the talking animals and supernatural beings, to the 'cautionary tale' of Tom the chimney sweep.
Combined with a sublime score both tuneful and challenging, as well as a painstaking concern for environmental issues and for social justice, the opera’s depth is shrouded in just enough metaphors to keep the children entertained, and to keep the adults drawn in.
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Along with the Industrial Revolution of the mid-19th century, also came a growing awareness of the staggering and detrimental effects that it would reap on society and the environment.
Kingsley was among the first of the 'eco-warriors', and was often noted as being torn between commending Britain in their ever-expanding concrete jungle, and fearing the extinctions of various species habitats in which they reside. Today, the glaring truths of our own actions are far more dire than Kingsley wrote about, but whether or not one lets these notions overshadow the jovial presentation of 'The Water-Babies: A Folk Opera' is completely up to the individual. Libretto and music by Freddie Hill.
'The Water-Babies: A Folk Opera' plays The Forum Theatre, Leichhardt 20-21 September.