Scotland’s National Opera company, Scottish Opera will première Humperdinck’sHansel and Gretel that was filmed at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal on 19 December. It is the latest Scottish Opera: On Screen production that includes Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Opera Highlights, Janáček’s The Diary of One Who Disappeared, Menotti’s The Telephoneand Samuel Bordoli and Jenni Fagan’s The Narcissistic Fish.
This modern adaptation of the classic fairy tale can be viewed from Wednesday 10th February at 6pm, via the Scottish Opera website and before then audio excerpts from the performance will be featured on BBC Radio Scotland as part of Classics Unwrapped, presented by Jamie MacDougall, on 7th February.
Sung in English, this reimagining of Humperdinck’s opera tells the heart-warming story of two children and their journey from an impoverished home, into the mystery and danger of the woods. Brought to life by Daisy Evan’s staging, with a Christmas-crazed witch and a shopping trolley full of sweets and goodies, Hansel and Gretel seem a long way from their simple family life. Although Hansel and Gretel is an opera traditionally associated with Christmas, Daisy’s new production celebrates the opera’s joy and hope that are just as powerful and relevant whatever the season.
Daisy Evans said “This show is fun for all the family, bright colours, big energy and plenty of glitter! With the current pandemic, everybody has had a difficult Christmas, so I wanted it to be about finding joy where we can, and about families celebrating together. And I also want it to encourage people to come back to the theatre, and to bring their children with them – to make them want to be part of this experience, and to invest in it as part of our culture.”
David Parry conducts a cast including Kathleen Ferrier Award-winner Kitty Whately as Hansel, Rhian Lois as Gretel, ENO Harewood Artist Nadine Benjamin as Mother and The Witch, Phillip Rhodes as Father and former Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Charlie Drummond as The Sandman and The Dew Fairy, in a translation by David Pountney and with a reduced orchestration by Derek Clark. Humperdinck’s chorus of gingerbread children is performed by a chorus of four adults.
Scottish Opera’s Head of Music, Derek Clark said “Despite a prolific composing career, Humperdinck’s reputation rests solely on this one opera. The combination of a straightforward fairy tale with a musical language which owes a heavy debt to Wagner may seem an unlikely one, but in Hansel and Gretel, the mixture of simple tunes, like the famous Dance duet, thrilling orchestral passages such as the Witch’s Ride and the Dream pantomime, and the tender emotion of the children’s Evening Prayer produces a masterpiece which has kept its popularity for well over a century.”
Hansel and Gretel is available to watch via Scottish Opera’s website (1hr 40mins)