There are no shortages of holiday extravaganzas in New York City. But one of my favorite events is the annual Peter & the Wolf production at the Guggenheim, which is narrated by none other than Isaac Mizrahi. Usually, the production is accompanied by a commissioned art installation. This year, in addition to the traditional live musicians, the production includes a cast of terrific performers. Who could not love the author/illustrator Maira Kalman playing the sacrificial duck? For those unfamiliar with the story, Peter opens a gate to go exploring and unwittingly allows a wolf to enter a nearby meadow endangering all of the animals who live there. But with a little help from a friendly bird and a nearby hunter, Peter captures the wolf who is escorted to the zoo. Sadly, the wolf manages to eat the duck before he is captured.
The production, which is part of the museum's Works & Process series, is set in Central Park, with a starkly realistic fence, park bench and metal garbage can. The real star of the show is the classic music, written in 1936 by Prokofiev and hummed for generations afterwards. Here, it is performed by an ensemble of Julliard musicians. Prokofiev wrote the piece in an effort to introduce children to different instruments. Peter is represented by the strings; the duck is represented by an oboe and the hunter is represented by kettle drums. Peter & the Wolf is still the perfect way to get young children captivated by the sounds of an orchestra and this production lets the adults share in the fun.