HANSEL AND GRETEL
Part of Welsh National Opera’s ‘Spellbound’ season
The Bristol Hippodrome
Wednesday 8th – Saturday 11th April 2015
Over the past week Welsh National Opera has been serving up a trio of productions at The Bristol Hippodrome. Spellbound is their theme for Spring 2015, which highlights the natural affinity between music and magic with revivals of Hansel & Gretel and The Magic Flute alongside a new production: Chorus!
Hansel & Gretel is a dark re-telling of the well-known fairytale which transports the audience into a world of magic, make-believe and delight, but is ultimately about the power of rationalism over magic.
Hansel and Gretel Family Review
As a relative newcomer to opera, I’m still somewhat in awe of the wonderful theatre of it all. Before the performance begins the house lights are up and we can hear the gentle hubbub of pre-show audience chatter mingling with dischordant music drifting towards us whilst the orchestra tunes their instruments at the front of the stalls. A reverential hush falls as WNO Musical Director Lothar Koenigs dramatically sweeps in and his orchestra respectfully rises. He warmly greets one or two musicians, takes his position, invites them to sit, raises his baton and the show begins.
AGE SUITABILITY AND VERDICT
In parts Hansel and Gretel is very gruesome (I suppose most fairytales are), with graphic images and props highlighting the constant hunger and threat of cannabalism which hangs over the children, but I didn’t hear any screams or gasps to suggest that even the youngest audience members found it scary. My own boys weren’t with me on this occasion so I’m undecided about age suitability and I was quite surprised to see how many youngsters there were in the audience of an evening opera performance. The few children I heard from afterwards seemed neither traumatised by it nor gushing about how much they’d enjoyed it. I suspect my boys may have had a similar reaction.
Despite the Brothers Grimm providing such a gruesome fairytale as the basis for Adelheid Wette’s score, I found this a very enjoyable and amusing performance. The last act in particular brought to mind a Pantomime with a man playing the ugly Witch, the principal boy being played by a young woman and the oversized witches kitchen offering the perfect backdrop for slapstick baking and oven trickery.
WELSH NATIONAL OPERA
Welsh National Opera is the national opera company for Wales. WNO is funded by the Arts Councils of Wales and England to provide large scale opera across Wales and to major cities in the English regions.
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DISCLOSURE: WE RECEIVED TICKETS FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS REVIEW. ALL OPINIONS ARE MY/OUR OWN.