Music: Engelbert Humperdinck
Libretto: Adelheid Wette
English Translation: David Poutney
Director: Richard Jones
Revival Director: Benjamin Davis
Conductor: Lothar Koenigs
Reviewer: Lauren Wilson
A beautiful take on the classic fairy tale, Welsh National Opera’s version of Hansel and Gretel lures the audience into a land of make-believe where anything might be possible.
When Hansel and Gretel are left hungry and alone to do their chores, they are caught by their furious mother and sent into the wood to pick berries to eat. The pair get lost and are lured into the hands of an evil witch, who aims to fatten them up and turn them into gingerbread by roasting them in her magic oven.
The themes of magic, danger and evil are injected into the piece by the beautiful, note-perfect music from the orchestra. At the beginning of each act an image is left on stage while the orchestra takes the audience through the emotions of the piece without any action on stage. This is a great way to give the audience chance to listen to the musicians, however there needs to be something more visual on stage, perhaps a multi-media projection to intrigue the eye.
The set is very minimal throughout. This works well in the home of the protagonists as it cleverly reflects the family’s financial burdens, however a lot is left to be desired as far as the gingerbread house and forest are concerned, where something more elaborate would have worked well.
The company has teamed up with Mandy Dymond, who provides heads for some of the characters as well as a puppet of the Sandman, who puts the children to sleep in the forest before they share a remarkable dream. The use of the puppet and the heads brings a level of enchantment to the piece that enriches the entire production.
The whole cast are incredibly strong and work well together. The honey-sweet tones of Jurgita Adamonyté(Hansel) alone are enough to make the heart soar, however when blended with Ailish Tynan (Gretel) the pair delivers a feast for the ears. One thing that really sets this production apart from others is the talent that comes from the chorus. When the chorus sings it is truly majestic, like angels have descended onto the set; it is just a shame that we do not hear more from them.
All in all, Hansel and Gretel is a fun and humorous production that can be enjoyed by the whole family and is a perfect way to introduce opera to a younger audience.
Reviewed on 21st February 2015.