Pierangelo Valtinoni’s 2010 children’s opera The Snow Queen, based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, is a sheer delight less for the quality of the music than for Anisha Bondy’s delightfully overstuffed staging.
Tuneful yet pedestrian, Valtinoni’s score is closer in spirit to the Great White Way than anything else, with jazzy ostinati frequently popping out, repeated motifs that resemble Sweeney Todd and a conversational approach to vocal writing that brings to mind Bernstein’s Candide. The heavy amplification adds to this impression. The most genuinely operatic moments come during the first act wintertime carnival, which takes a page from Puccini’s evocation of wintertime mirth and intoxication in Momus. Even here, however, the principal attraction is the impressive stagecraft (including an onstage Ferris wheel) and the dozens of children scurrying about with cotton candy in outlandishly goofy costumes.