“Hansel and Gretel” the opera was featured at the Los Angeles Opera this Fall and Winter season. It starred Susan Graham as the witch, Sasha Cooke as Hansel and Liv Redpath as Gretel. The production used the light as a way of telling the story and expressing the emotions of the characters. The design of the set was also very interesting and reminded one of a Grimm fairytale. The voices of all the singers worked well together and overall made a beautiful performance.
The opera started with a painted scene of the woods, the music light, and quiet. As the lights began to rise and the scene became more clear, the orchestra’s music began to grow in tone and volume. The first thing seen is the spirits of the woods, which were unique puppets that would constantly be seen throughout the opera.
Then, the audience sees Hansel and Gretel inside their house making a mess. Immediately when they started singing, one hears how well their voices worked together. When their mother comes home, she yells at them to go outside into the woods. From there, the audience sees the kids having fun, collecting food and exploring.
Later, after getting lost in the woods and becoming tired, Hansel and Gretel look for a place to sleep. They fall asleep in the woods, surrounded by mushrooms and spirts. As they sleep, the spirits protect them, but when the children wake, the spirits leave and they continue on their journey.
They soon find a house filled with candy. When they meet the witch, she wants to keep the kids to eat later, so she makes them into gingerbread cookies. Susan Graham showed a crazy side in her performance by being the comical side of the opera. Her voice was very strong and beautiful and the way she characterized the witch was phenomenal. She commanded the stage and showed emotion in her voice.
The set design was incredible because it did a fantastic job showing this childhood story. Not only did they make it look like a bright childhood story adding color and animation. but the opera also showed the dark, Grimm side of the story. For example, the spirits were made of dark and scary colors, but they also had fun and childish looks to them by having big eyes and looking like sweet, loving animals.
Overall, “Hansel and Gretel” was an interesting and mysterious opera incorporating parts of the dark Grimm story and the classic childhood storybook.