Local Opera Performance Reviews

Engelbert Humperdinck:  Hansel and Gretel,

University of Oklahoma, Nov. 30, 2017


 Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel proved its worthiness to be included in the operatic canon again at OU.  The story of simple Lutheran faith in God to protect children can get lost in modern production values, but Thursday night proved that success does not necessarily depend on the depiction of 14 angels coming down from Heaven. 

 The OU orchestra played the overture as well as I have ever heard the overture done.  Keeping four horns together and in tune is a minor miracle in itself, and this section deserves a round of applause themselves.  Jonathan Shames kept the large ensemble together throughout the performance and under tight control to leave room in the sound for the singers to be heard.  The other two large orchestral sections, the witches’ ride and the pantomime, allowed the orchestra to shine by itself more than many operas do, and the performance of these was top-notch.

 The English translation used has been slightly updated from some of the very dated lyrics I remember from 50 years ago.  The production was traditional but cleverly done.  

 The cast I saw was quite fine.  Everyone’s delivery of the English text was understandable, even to the children in the audience.  As Gretel and Hansel, Maggie Armand and Maddie Breedlove were the older, slightly bossy sister and her younger brother, misbehaving but contrite at the same time, and trying to protect each other from the world.  Melissa Delgado was their mother, with her hands full, close to losing her faith from poverty and hunger.  As her husband, Stephen Jones was able to express his joy in the reward of a good day’s work and to comfort his wife while passing on the latest news about the inhabitants of the nearby woods.

 In the woods, Miranda Brugman as the Sandman sang very clearly of protecting the children.  Amber Cox as the Dew Fairy needed a few more consonants to make her song intelligible.  Nina Estelle Whyte showed both sides of the Witch, drawing the children in with sweet food and words while planning their destruction.  The Baker’s dozen Children’s Chorus in the final scene were well-trained.

 The pantomime which ends Act II is the director’s challenge in this opera.  This production combined several sets of good-versus-evil myths which were recognizable to the youngest children in the audience and worked well.  This was a child-friendly evening.

 There are two more performances, tonight at 8 p.m. and tomorrow at 3.  Take your children!

© 2017 KUCO Classical, All Rights Reserved | Website designed by Back40 Design & managed by Javelin CMS

A community-supported outreach of the University of Central Oklahoma

100 North University Drive, Edmond, OK 73034 | (405) 974-3333 | Link to UCO | F: (405) 974-3844 | E: [email protected]
Legal & Policies

Become a Sponsor