Hansel and Gretel, Opera Warwick, at Warwick Arts Centre: A Review

One doesn’t tend to expect much from student-run amateur productions, especially if you are going to evaluate one based upon budget affected aspects, such as set and costume. If I were to base my review as such, I would lay aside the production as fairly mediocre: the set only just made sense (I didn’t understand that it was in a city; the skip didn’t look like a skip), lighting was poor (light the eyes! use back lights!) and the costumes… well I’m personally not a fan of a mustard and red colour-theme.

However, it would be cruel to look at just these criteria.

I think a modern audience find it easy to judge the style of opera, before really understanding it. The larger gestures, choreography and audience addressed arias are all part of the genre.

The overall concept, translation and direction were fabulous – I loved the updating of an opera into accessible, modern english. Many laughs ensued from popular culture and modern references, such as coca cola, which all sounded terribly funny sung with a classical setup.

Lizzie, who played Gretel, has a beautiful clear voice yet maintains the strength and quality of a lower ranged voice – I think her own self-decription of a ‘dynamic soprano’ is perfectly suited. Hansel and Gretel played off each other well, both with a comedic physical presence and complementary voices.

This is how they described their concept:

Roll up, roll up, the circus has come to town! But all is not child’s play in Hansel and Gretel…

Living in poverty, Roma Gypsies Hansel and Gretel are confined to the outskirts of the community. As they play in their concrete jungle, their mother sends them into the city in a desperate attempt to forage for food. Their father returns home with news that the circus has arrived, accompanied with rumours of a certain evil ringmaster, known to lure in hungry children with smells of frying food. As clowns, acrobats, magicians and lion tamers take to the stage, the dark reality of what goes on behind the scenes is revealed.

Opera Warwick brings this magical fairytale up to date in this brand new translation of Humperdinck’s masterpiece written in collaboration with Kit Hesketh-Harvey. Featuring local school children, this visually stunning, tuneful and approachable opera is suitable for fearless children and adults alike.

Come to the greatest show on earth, but only if you dare…

Hansel and Gretel Website

Unfortunately, the run is now over. It was lovely to see such a packed audience on a Saturday for the opera, with riotous student support for the actors. I wish Opera Warwick the very best with their next endeavour and look forward to seeing it.