Multimedia Opera ‘The Wonderland Series’ to Make Virtual Premiere at Rochester Fringe Festival

By David Salazar

“The Wonderland Series” will make its digital premiere on Sept 16 and 26 as part of the Rochester Fringe Festival.

The experimental multimedia opera by Anna Heflin was inspired by Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” and will feature violinist Shannon Reilly performing and acting as she “weaves between every imaginable multimedia form.”

“Shannon is one of the most hardworking people that I know and her dedication to following a score is unparalleled,” Heflin told OperaWire. “Her role in the work mirrors Alice’s fall into Wonderland; she is asked to do a whole lot more than reading notes on a page. The whole idea is that she’s thrown into a situation that she’s not prepared for, as a classically trained violinist, and has to do her best. There’s a vulnerability that comes out of this, which we are both equally interested in and discussed at length, which is relevant to the story itself.

“She’s not a trained singer or actor for example, but has a lovely singing voice and is incredibly engaging on stage. We are both curious about the limits of performance as a string player, and so playing on the ‘Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast’ idea, I suggested ideas that really push this. One example is when she is singing in one time signature while playing violin in another, a thing that is quite hard but not impossible. The only suggestion that made her raise her eyebrows is when I asked about a British accent, which took practice but ended up being one of my favorite parts of her performance.”

Regarding the experience she expects for audiences, Heflin added that “I would expect quite an overwhelming experience that switches from humorous to moving to startling at the turn of a hat. There is only one performer (Shannon), but she embodies many different characters in the live performance, the pre-recorded video; and the pre-recorded audio… There are cameos from a bird, cat, and a rabbit and there’s a moment with a balloon but I don’t want to spoil it. It’s wild; Carroll would note that it has indeed not lost its ‘muchness.’”