Review | Hansel and Gretel was magical fun for all the family

Hansel and Gretel | Supreme Court Gardens | 22nd Feb | ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

WA Opera presented their annual Opera in the Park event on Sunday night and it was a fun and frolicking affair with Hansel and Gretel. 

Performed in English, the opera is a light hearted and comical telling of the Grimm brothers classic fairytale, but on this occasion it was given an Australian flavour.

Written by Engelbert Humperdinck, the 19th century composer – not the 1960’s crooner, Hansel and Gretel is lush, symphonic and romantic. The work has long instrumental pieces that set the scene and the melodies flow freely, making it a very accessible and enjoyable piece.

We meet brother and sister Hansel and Gretel, played by Ashlyn Tymms and Pia Harris respectfully. There is no food in the house and both are hungry, their only form of sustenance is some fresh milk given by a neighbour.

When their mother Gertrude (played by the fabulous Fiona Campbell) returns home she chides them for not having done enough work, and when Hansel knocks over the milk she throws the pair out of the house is anger. Soon after their father (played by Kristin Bowtell) returns home with a basket full of food, but my now the children have wandered off into the wilds.

Rather than send the children into the traditional woods, the European landscape is replaced with an Australian one. Glorious animation created by artist Sohan Ariel Hayes fills the digital screens that surrounds the stage, and this hi-tech production made the mode of video camera, multiple screens and digital backdrops.

Lost in the outback, Hansel and Gretel fall into a deep sleep after encountering the sandman, and are awoken in the morning by the Dew Fairy, both portrayed by Sara Macliver, who sung beautifully and had some outrageously camp costumes.

Alone in the scrub lands Hansel and Gretel come across the cottage made of cakes and cookies and soon they are enslaved and imprisoned by the The Witch, also marvelously played by Fiona Campbell.

Hansel and Gretel was a delight to watch and a great choice for Opera in the Park, an event designed to give everyone an opportunity to experience the magic of operatic performance, and having an easily understandable and accessible work was a great choice.

WA Opera’s 2020 season continues with Fidelio, the highly anticipated Star Navigator, The Nightingale and Cosi Fan Tutte coming up later this year.

Graeme Watson, photos by Base Imagery. 

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