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Thursday | Sep 15, 2011

Opera Omaha’s “Hansel & Gretel” School Performances

This November, Opera Omaha will offer all area elementary schools the opportunity to see the classic opera, Hansel & Gretel at the Rose Theater in Omaha, Nebraska.

Original Design of Opera Omaha’s Hansel & Gretel by Jim Othuse

Opera Omaha has created a new one-hour version of the classic opera by Engelbert Humperdinck.  Based on a 19th-c German fairy tale, Opera Omaha’s adaptation is less “grim” than the Brothers Grimm version.  The spunky children of a poor broom-maker still get lost in the woods, where they encounter a magical cottage of sweets and its elderly occupant.  But this “witch” is more comic than evil and the clever brother and sister soon turn danger into delights.  This new version is true to Humperdinck’s music, but suitable for children 6 or older.  The production will be performed in English, and feature English and  Spanish translations projected above the stage.  The artistic staff of this production include J. Gawf ,conductor; Henry McCarthy, stage director; and James Othuse, Production Designer.

The original opera premiered in December, 1893, and was called “a masterpiece of the highest quality.” Combining Wagnerian techniques and traditional German folk songs, Hänsel und Gretel was an instant and overwhelming success.

Children and parents alike will recognize familiar characters and situations:  older sister Gretel is annoyingly “good” and more than a bit bossy towards her younger brother Hansel.  Hansel finds it hard to concentrate on one thing at a time and is totally focused on food – real and imaginary!  Like many of today’s youngsters, they are left to amuse themselves at home, while their parents struggle to make a living for the family.  Sent to the woods by their angry mother to find strawberries to replace the cream they have spilled, they soon lose track of the time as darkness falls and many fears, both imaginary and real, loom large in their dream lives.

Do they imagine the Sandman who replaces those fears with pleasant dreams?  Are the angels they dream about real – or figments of their overactive imaginations?  And what about the Witch – is she the “stranger” they’ve always been warned to avoid?  Or a friendly rescuer who will provide the food and treats they have longed for?

The brother and sister must learn to support one another, to find clever solutions to their problems and to exercise good judgment.  Their adventure makes them more mature and more appreciative of one another and their hard-working parents.

Performances will be held November 7 – 11, 2011 at 11am and 1pm each day.  The performance will last approximately one hour.  Thanks to generous donations, these performances are being offered FREE of charge to your school.

To receive the information packet and the order form contact Brad Watkins at bwatkins@operaomaha.org or 402.346.4398 x204.

Public performances of Hansel & Gretel are November 11-13, 2011.
Click here for ticket information.

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