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<<  -- 2 --  Maria Nockin    SQUEALS OF DELIGHT

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On 28 November 2006, Los Angeles Opera presented a new English language production of Hansel and Gretel by director and designer Douglas Fitch. The libretto is a new version of the story rather than a translation, but it is singable and has pleasant rhymes. Most importantly, it removes some of the story's nineteenth century concepts that today's audience might find dated.

The scenery, too, was designed to look like illustrations found in twenty-first century children's books and, since much of it was often in motion, there was never a moment when the audience could lose interest. Mark Jonathan's evocative lighting added to the fairy tale ambience of the work. Because of the number of children attending, cushions were supplied that enabled them to sit high enough to see the stage even if there were adults in front of them.

Maria Kanyova as Gretel and Graham Clark as the witch. Photo © 2006 Robert Millard
Maria Kanyova as Gretel and Graham Clark as the witch. Photo © 2006 Robert Millard

Mezzo-soprano Lucy Schaufer and soprano Maria Kanyova portrayed delightfully energetic children and they sang and danced in a most charming manner. Kanyova's tones were lustrous and silvery while Schaufer's voice was smooth and silken in contrast. Both had excellent diction that made the rhymed text understandable even though it could be read above the stage and at its sides.

Maria Kanyova (Gretel), Lucy Schaufer (Hansel), Luana DeVol (Gertrude, the Mother) and Donnie Ray Albert (Peter, the Father). Photo © 2006 Robert Millard
Maria Kanyova (Gretel), Lucy Schaufer (Hansel), Luana DeVol (Gertrude, the Mother) and Donnie Ray Albert (Peter, the Father). Photo © 2006 Robert Millard

As their mother, Gertrude, Luana DeVol was first seen in angry close ups on a screen in the back of the house and was heard scolding the children harshly. Only at the end of the opera could one hear some attractive colors in her voice. Donnie Ray Albert was a happy-go-lucky father who came home a bit tipsy, singing about his love for beer. He did bring food for everyone, but gave the impression that he wasn't a good provider.

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Copyright © 9 December 2006 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA

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