Loved it so much I saw it twice!
I've known Humperdinck's exquisite music since childhood, but had never seen Hansel and Gretel performed live on stage until last week. This production is the latest triumph from Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal, and they staged it in collaboration with the
National Theatre School of Canada and the National Circus School.
Humperdinck's music is enchanting. The visuals in this production, abstract. Book pages and German
words from the tale compose much of the scenery, reminding one that the
opera originated with a German text by the Brothers Grimm. It was a real
pleasure to hear the opera sung in its original language too. I'm very
happy for the translation provided on an unobtrusive screen above the
The second time I saw it, I noticed how good the acting is in the production. Gretel looked genuinely scared of the witch. Hansel, played by a female (following the tradition of this opera, due to the mezzo-soprano voice required for the role) was a believably protective brother. Also, sitting close to the front, I noticed the mother froze just before the final curtain fell, holding a broom and giving a hysterical facial expression linking her with the witch. Hilarious for those of us who noticed, but sad in that, perhaps the happy ending that Hansel and Gretel deserve after their heroism will not be achieved once they settle back into life at home.