Later this month, The MSU Opera Theater program will be performing Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, based on the classic Brothers Grimm tale of two children lost in the woods. It was adapted as an opera in 1893 by Humperdinck, and will be performed in English.
Director Melanie Helton says that the opera is fun for both families and children. “It is a great first opera. It has good tunes and great movement. Our witch is funny, not scary… only [she] dies and she comes back as a giant cookie.” She added that the props are entertaining (light up wands are easy to find, thanks to Harry Potter) and that the cast will be handing out candy in the second act. Additionally, for those concerned about bedtimes, the Wednesday and Thursday performances will start at 7pm, and should be finished by 9:15pm.
Above: Melanie Helton
This opera marks several firsts for the MSU Opera Theater program. There will be video projections used to show the witch flying in roiling storm clouds over the Bavarian village where the children live. The performances are also double cast for Hansel and Gretel and quadruple cast for the parts of the Dew Fairy and Sandman. “It’s a way to give more people time to shine,” says Helton. The MSU Children’s Choir and Capital Ballet Theatre will also be participating.
Steven Mosteller is the guest conductor for Hansel and Gretel; every MSU Opera Theater production brings in a different guest conductor for the students to work with. Mosteller taught at DePaul University and has worked at venues such as the Lyric Opera of Chicago and New York City Opera.
When asked why families should come see the show, Helton replied “It’s a classic. [You’ll] be overwhelmed by the beauty of the music. It’s a chance to see human voice on an unamplified stage with a live orchestra- there are no mics at all.”
The Opera will be performed November 15 (7pm), November 16 (7pm), November 17 (8pm) and November 19 (3pm) (there is no Saturday performance) with a preview lecture held 45 minutes before each show. Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for senior citizens ages 60+, and $10 for students with ID and anyone under 18. Tickets may be purchased at the door, online, or by calling 517-353-5340.
The Fairchild Theater is located at 542 Auditorium Road, on the MSU campus.