Before the actual performance of The Adventures of Pinocchio, there was a workshop. The instructor of the workshop was very good at both acting and singing. We went gradually through the whole story, and it was interesting to know how much better it was than the dismal Disney version. Pinocchio certainly was no saint. The instructor started with warm-ups such as “Tony Chestnut”, and then showed us many of the movements and songs from the real opera. With the cat and the fox, for example, we did movements imitating the two animals in pairs, one person being each animal. I would recommend the workshop, especially for young children.

The opera itself had a few amusing moments, for example where the parrot teases Pinocchio about when his money was stolen from him by the cat and the fox. The only problem was the singing. It was certainly loud enough to project all the way through the auditorium, but the problem was that it was sometimes difficult to make out the words. However, this was rare and generally it was an outstanding performance.

The songs were ingeniously written and the choreography was fantastic. The actors sang brilliantly but their actual acting wasn’t bad either. The scene-changes were very good and the imaginative wooden background to the whole thing was excellent. It really caught the splendour and practical chaos of Funland, as well as the grudging poverty of Dredgeland. Pinocchio’s cheek, naughtiness and vulnerability to temptation were shown extremely well. The cat and the fox were perfectly malicious in exactly the right way. They weren’t like thugs but more like clever schemers. Pinocchio’s stupidity was exaggerated sometimes to show his naughtiness. The last song, where Pinocchio becomes a real boy, was a very difficult twelve-tone piece and was extremely memorable, able to make anyone who has seen it sing it on the way home.

Generally, The Adventures of Pinocchio was an excellent performance. I would recommend it to most people but not children aged below six.

Samuel (aged 12)

Samuel was at "The Adventures of Pinocchio", an opera with music by Jonathan Dove, performed by Opera North at Sadler's Wells, London, 1st March 2008