Cunning Little Vixen | State Opera South Australia | Review May 2019

Cunning Little Vixen | Review

Fun opera caper in forest.

Cunning Little Vixen is opera like you’ve never seen it before, with magical forest creatures, child performers, bright colours, and comedy – in a non-traditional setting.

As a parent, you hope to raise well-rounded children. And one way to help do that is to immerse them in different cultural experiences.

Enter State Opera’s new show, Cunning Little Vixen, being staged at the non-operatic venue of the Adelaide Showground’s Ridley Centre.

As a first opera experience – for youngsters or the uninitiated – this is a good introduction.

Cunning Little Vixen

The songs are in English, the bright sets and costumes are visually spectacular, and there’s a fun, whimsical vibe with magical forest creatures at the centre. There’s also an injection of youth with singing-and-dancing kids sharing the stage with the main stars, dressed as grasshoppers, bees, caterpillars, crickets and dragonflies. (Our animal faves were the frog on a bouncy ball in flippers, and the humorous, jerky-headed chorus of chooks.)

The opera by Czech composer Leoš Janáček follows a female fox’s (or vixen’s) journey from youth to adulthood, where, with the help of her forest friends and a handsome fox, she faces growing up and the excitement and uncertainty that a changing world brings. The Adelaide season stars South Australian Desiree Frahn as the Vixen and award-winning soprano Antoinette Halloran as the Fox. Accompanied by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, and featuring State Opera’s Chorus and Children’s Chorus, it’s, indeed, a unique experience to behold.

Cunning Little Vixen

As the State Opera’s artistic director, Stuart Maunder, says: “Cunning Little Vixen is the most joyous experience – it’s the only way to describe it. It’s about life cycles, renewal, growing older, and our relationship with nature. It really makes you feel great to be alive. Vixen contains some of the most moving music ever written.”

While the opera is in English, there are screened subtitles to assist, so it better suits children who can read. The performance is also 90 minutes long, making it best for kids who can sit still quietly for long periods – without the distraction of snacks, with no food allowed! The shows start at 7.30pm too, so can be a bit late for younger ones, and there are some adult themes, like suicide, death and lust. However, older kids, who adore classical music and theatre, will be transfixed.

Cunning Little Vixen has two more shows in SA – on Thursday 23 May, and Saturday 25 May 2019.

For more information and ticket bookings, please see the State Opera website HERE. 


This review was written and photographed by Carla Caruso, a women’s fiction author, journo and a Play & Go mum. Check out her website here.

At Play & Go Adelaide we make every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change.

Image source: Carla Caruso & supplied

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