Christian Jost’s children opera Mikropolis is thoroughly gleeful, clever and creative from start to finish. Jost’s score is dynamic and exciting and contains nods to the American musical tradition from Copland and Gershwin to Bernstein and Sondheim. Much credit goes to the elaborate production of Nadja Loschky, with fanciful and eye-popping insect costumes by Esther Bialas, who also contributes the fanciful props, which included very oversized banana peels, apple cores and cigarette butts.
The witty German-language libretto by Michael Frowan follows a group of insects living in Berlin and their encounter with a cricket named Gesine (the vital house soprano Erika Roos), who pines for the countryside. The libretto finds contemporary relevance in the debates surrounding immigration and integration that have reentered public discourse with renewed vehemence. Indulging in the best of anthropomorphizing tendencies, Frowan clearly means for his big city to represent modern day Berlin in all its diversity. The colorful cast includes a Chinese ladybug, a Turkish horseful and a housefly who is depressed about his 24-hour lifespan.