Saturday, November 10, 2018

Day 307 Hansel & Gretel-Pittsburgh Opera-Tap Into Your Childhood

The opera, Hansel &Gretel, is based on the fairy tale by Brothers Grimm.  We all know the story of the siblings who become lost in an enchanted forest, encounter the gingerbread house and  must fend off the witch  who turns children into gingerbread before she eats them. This Opera by Engelbart Humperdinck (not the singer) was  originally written in the 1800’s in German but Pittsburgh Opera performed it in English. It was an evening to kick back and tap into your childhood as you enjoyed this playful night of music. 


This opera was a great way for  children to experience an opera with the whole family.  The set  reminded me of the Who’s Village in the iconic Dr. Seuss "Grinch That Sole Christmas". The children’s home, the forest trees and  the gingerbread house were brightly colored and simply  designed  structures. It all resembled a page ripped right out of a children’s story book!   

The opera sung in English often rhymed giving it the rhythm of a  nursery rhyme. The mezzo-soprano, Hansel (Corrie Stallings) and soprano Gretel (Ashley Fabian ) filled the stage with  their powerful song and their words were so crisp that subtitles were  really not needed to understand the playful lyrics. 

Humperdinck's  musical score seemed breezy and lighthearted in the overture.  A dreamy and peaceful  end to Act II occurred as  Hansel and Gretel fell sleep under the dust of the Sandman (Caitlin Gotimer) and protection of the forest animals (wolf, owl and more) that glided  along the stage to the instrumentals. 

In Act III the  Witch (Marianne Cornetti) stole the show with her magic wand and her bold mezzo-soprano “Hocus Pocus” that  placed  the children under her spell. Her animation added so much energy that the audience broke out in applause. We all know that  she gets pushed into the oven, freeing Hansel and Gretel but its still fun to watch. Her demise brought forth a  delightful cast of freed children adding the voices of a child's choir to the opera. 

Hansel and Gretel was the perfect family introduction to opera, and for empty nesters, it was a night to tap into your childhood for a whimsical evening with a beautiful score and powerful sopranos.

(Hansel and Gretel runs until November 11, 2018. The opera switches gears in January with,  afterWards-Mozart's Idomeneo Reimagined, a tale of love, loss and healing after the Trojan War. For more on 2018-19 Pittsburgh Opera season go to ).

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