The Cunning Little Vixen – Carol Bailey

Clouds of colored drawings floated across the white set sky scape of the full stage 90 minute video. White spot lights pierced the colors like lightning bolts revealing the characters of the opera. This 3-D movie, without the glasses, was the Children’s Christmas show at the Royal Danish Opera the 2012.

Two worlds, that of the humans and that of the animals, created “a fairytale depiction of the essential fate of union between everything that lies in nature,” as the Prague music critic, Otakar Sourek wrote of The Cunning LIttle Vixen in 1937. We used these two worlds and the idea to teach the children a cosmic lesson, something of ecology through the story of the opera. All things are made of the same particles vibrating at different rates and therefor everything relates to everything else in the eternal cycle of life.

In the story of the opera, the Forrester, who is closer to Nature than the others of his town, finds a little fox. She is brought out of her natural world into the world of the humans and the story of the two intertwines in the cycles of nature and it’s alienation by man. Man separated from nature looses his humanity. Humanity trying to control nature brings havoc on both.The Forrester is encouraged by his society to go out and shoot the thing he loves because she causes trouble. She is shot by the poacher as she protects her cubs. These cubs cycle back to the Forrester at the end of his life where he meets one of them and the children of other animals in the same wood where the story started. The cycle begins again. The story creates a vortex spiraling out to the killing and then back in to the beginning image again, mirroring the cycles of life.

The natural aspect of the set looked like paper cutouts layered over the human world of stacked boxes. The video images depicted the human world as cold steel boxes rotating and opening revealing robot monsters. The natural world, as layers of colors, moved from the smallest particles in the pre-show images to water, flowers, wings, stars, moving outward into the cosmos. The humans’ costumes, based on the local folk costumes of Copenhagen, were also robot like, as mix of Futuristic sculptures and transformer origami. The animals’ costumes were swirling colored paper shapes of fur ears and tails, feathers and beaks that surrounded the performers and integrated them into the video drawings, making all cohesive while visually constantly dynamic.

Our international team consisted of Francisco Negrin, director (Spain); Es Devlin, scenery; Luke Halls, video; Bruno Poet, lighting( all from the UK) and myself, Carol