Opera Now / Jun 2013 |
Martin Dreyer [On The Firework Maker's Daughter]
"...an intoxicating brew....The show is the operatic equivalent of a page-turner, ideally paced for an all-ages audience....The family audience loved every minute of its two hours. Once a buzzword, outreach has become a vital commodity. May it live happily ever after."
Opera Obsession Blog / May 2013 |
Lucy [On The Firework Maker's Daughter]
Its inventive staging, engaging musical writing, and charming plot, however, won me--as well as the many children in the audience--over completely....You'll have to bear with me, Gentle Readers, as I keep using words like joy and delight in describing this work that features Wagnerian allusions and a lovesick white elephant, as well as the independent heroine of the title.....The score is lean but evocative, relying heavily on percussion and woodwinds, with strings coming to the fore in moments of emotional intimacy or vulnerability.... The Wagnerian pretensions and Italian bombast (both orchestrally expressed) of the rival firework-makers were seen off in a deeply satisfying fashion, as Lila sings her art into being. Like all the best fables, The Firework-Maker's Daughter left me exhilarated as well as entranced.
Wall Street Journal feature / May 2013 |
Pia Catton [On The Firework Maker's Daughter]
In writing an opera for young people around the ages of his own two children (who are 6 and 10), Mr. Bruce said he gave the work the same care and attention, if not more, as previous works intended for violinist Daniel Hope ("The Given Note," a chamber work from 2011) or Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble ("Cut the Rug," from 2013). The latter will be played in October at Carnegie Hall, a venue that has presented three works commissioned from Mr. Bruce since 2006.
The challenge of writing for the much-younger set appealed to the composer: "It's almost the best audience to be aiming for," he said. "You force yourself to be as clear as possible."
Huffington Post / May 2013 |
Fern Siegel [On The Firework Maker's Daughter]
Composer David Bruce and librettist Glyn Maxwell, aided by creative costumes and sets, have artfully fashioned a wonderful tale that will seize the imagination.
New York Post / May 2013 |
James Jordon / La Ceica [On The Firework Maker's Daughter]
Like the pyrotechnics “The Firework Maker’s Daughter” longs to create, this new opera for children is a delightful, low-tech throwback to a time before CGI took over the world.....A hardworking company of five opera singers perform David Bruce’s score, an eclectic blend of Bollywood pop, Balinese gamelan percussion and Chinese opera, played onstage by a nine-piece ensemble......By the end of “Firework Maker’s Daughter,” Lila learns that magic ingredients are not as important as her own talent and courage. That’s true of the creators of this opera, too, who crafted a charming, moving tale from the simplest materials.
sandiegostory.com / May 2013 |
Ken Herman [On Steampunk]
The 43-year-old Anglo-American Bruce is one of the hot “go-to” composers on today’s classical music scene. “Steampunk,” for example, is one of four of his commissions from Carnegie Hall, and the San Diego Symphony has just signed him on to write works for their upcoming Carnegie Hall concert, the China Tour, and the 2014 season.
Bruce’s style might be described as a funky retrofit of the neoclassicism that flourished in Europe during the last century between the World Wars. Yet, even when he resorts to predictable motor rhythms to keep his textures humming along, he finds distinctive, ear-catching yet idiomatic turns for each instrument. His inventive treatment of the octet’s matching quartet of strings and quartet of winds offered a quickly changing soundscape of textures and sonorities that evoked characteristic moods: the sauntering boulevardier, the wry comedian, the yearning mystic.
“Steampunk” struck me as a polished, wry chamber work that should find a wide following, especially when performed with the suave facility the Art of Élan musicians.
BBC Music Magazine / Apr 2013 |
Helen Wallace [On The Firework Maker's Daughter]
Bruce has woven together scintillating timbres and scales from various ‘oriental’ traditions, be it Chinese, Indian and Indonesian, in a crafty weave using bass, harp, violin, winds, accordion and well-chosen tuned percussion subtly realised by CHROMA ensemble. As he says himself, he’s unashamedly interested in the ‘surface’ of the music, and this comes across in a teeming, tingling fantastical score that wittily references other operas (a lovely Wagner moment when the German firework-maker comes on, and a cod-Neapolitan song for Signor Scorchio, his Italian rival).
One Stop Arts ★★★★★ / Apr 2013 |
Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade [On The Firework Maker's Daughter]
This week the Linbury Studio Theatre attracted an audience of the more minute variety with its dazzling production of The Firework-Maker's Daughter....With music composed by David Bruce and a libretto constructed by Glyn Maxwell, the narrative enjoyed a vivid dramatisation that was brimming with energy.
The Telegraph / Apr 2013 |
Michael White [On The Firework Maker's Daughter]
At last: a first-rank children's opera, all the better for its low-tech magic
...the most utterly endearing, joyous and delightful show I've seen in ages...It's funny, touching, charming.... Bruce's score is accessibly saturated (in an often Brittenesque way) with eastern exoticism, pentatonic tunes, and delicately busy gamelan effects. Given the dearth of good children's music-theatre since Benjamin Britten ... this piece is something to sieze on.
...it has the makings of a real hot-ticket.
Planet Hugill blog / Apr 2013 |
Robert Hugill [On The Firework Maker's Daughter]
The result was mesmerising, a simply brilliant piece of theatre which mixed a wide variety of media into a charming and dazzling whole. No wonder the audience was pleased.
...Bruce's nine-person instrumental ensemble included an interesting mix of instruments (violin, bass, flute, clarinet, horn, accordion, harp and two percussionists), with a large amount of tuned percussion (plus one or two imaginative touches such as crumpling plastic bags). His sound world evoked Java, gamelan and the East (the rough location of the production), without being slavish. His orchestrations were magical and the sound world highly evocative.
Vocally there were some good set pieces, a rather jolly and catchy song for the pirates and some beautiful solos for Mary Bevan as Lila, including her gorgeous final incantation which was a long wordless cantilena.
Classical Source / Apr 2013 |
Hannah Sander [On The Firework Maker's Daughter]
Musically, the opera is at its best in the stiller moments: when Lila is alone in the jungle, and at the culmination, a gigantic firework display competing for the King's approval. Here, Bruceâ€™s liquid and inventive score breathes.
...between Bevan's delightful Lila, Bruce's inventive score and the majestic work of puppeteers Tiplady and Todd, there is a great deal of magic to behold.
The Observer / Mar 2013 |
Fiona Maddocks [On The Firework Maker's Daughter]
Now David Bruce and Glyn Maxwell, composer and librettist, have realised the book's operatic potential in a captivating chamber piece for five singers, two puppeteers and small ensemble.
Bruce's vivid music, skilfully played by Chroma and conducted by Geoffrey Paterson, mixes the colours of snake-charmer piccolo, gamelan and folk-inspired accordion to delicate effect. The vocal writing....has moments of strong emotional truth.
The Arts Desk / Mar 2013 |
Graham Rickson [On The Firework Maker's Daughter]
...music of rare beauty and purity.
Bruce's...eclectic, glittering score serves the narrative perfectly
The Independent / Mar 2013 |
Anna Picard [On The Firework Maker's Daughter]
Parents and carers beware! Lila, fearless heroine of David Bruce and Glyn Maxwell's adaptation of Philip Pullman's The Firework Maker's Daughter, is a thoroughly disruptive influence. If the children who saw John Fulljames's show in Hull and Huddersfield last week aren't dreaming of becoming the world's greatest pyrotechnicians, they are probably dreaming of careers as singers, puppeteers, percussionists, composers or writers. The Firework Maker's Daughter tells a terrific story and makes the crazy, sweaty, risky business of telling that story for a living look like terrific fun.
In this huge-hearted, fast-moving caper...the enchantment comes from the energy of the performers, the ingenuity of Guy Hoare's lighting, and the beauty of Bruce's music. Scored for a small band including accordion, harp and an array of gamelan-like percussion... the [opera's] patina is sharp, sweet and metallic, the rhythms punchy, the melodies fluid and expressive.....
Even if the target audience for this show is only a fraction older than the babies born in Bruce's 2006 opera Push!, there is enough to seduce the most musically discerning parent. Just don't take your offspring if you want them to take up a career in accountancy.
The Times★★★★ / Mar 2013 |
Richard Morrison [On The Firework Maker's Daughter]
....I devoured more than my own weight in Maltesers, and loved it....even better is David Bruce’s score, ingeniously coaxed from a nine-strong ensemble (Chroma) that strongly features an accordion and lashings of Chinese-opera style biffs and bangs in the percussion department.
Its pentatonic melodies are evocative of the Far East, too; yet the big numbers are more like wild, Irish-jig stomps. And to titillate grown-up listeners the musical allusions also pay homage to everything from Purcell, Stravinsky and Britten to Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries. With Amar Muchhala, Wyn Pencarreg and Andrew Slater revelling in mercurial cameos, and the conductor Geoffrey Paterson keeping this charming score buzzing along, two hours pass joyously.
whatsonstage.com ★★★★★ / Mar 2013 |
Ron Simpson [On The Firework Maker's Daughter]
The Firework Maker's Daughter is a wonderful entertainment: how often can we say that of a new opera?....David Bruce's score is a constant delight, from a cappella anthems to exotic percussion effects.....Nowadays operas so often disappear without trace after their first run, but I am confident that The Firework Maker's Daughter will return soon and often.
The Guardian ★★★★ / Mar 2013 |
Alfred Hickling [On The Firework Maker's Daughter]
Bruce's vividly coloured chamber score [combines] gamelan crashes and plunky pentatonics with the incongruous wheeze of an accordion to create a beguiling, imaginary hybrid of Indo-European folk music.