The instruments began, the lights dimmed and then two opera singers took the stage and began the tale of Hansel and Gretel, a classic bedtime story with timeless lessons.
With the help of the opera program and orchestra band, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s Opera Work- shop produced a work of art that left children mesmerized and adults contemplative with its educational plot, amazing opera singers and talented orchestra band.
Just like the original, this childhood tale is about two siblings, Hansel (Alondra Aguilar, mezzo-soprano) and Gretel (Lauren Walling, soprano), and their misadventures in the forest.
Only, this time around, the two encounter characters such as the “Do” Fairy (Jillian Scaff, soprano), a quirky sprite who gives children health-related guidance, and the Grease King (David Lautenschlager, baritone), a slimy man who rules over Grease Mountain, a hill of grease that grows larger every time a child eats fast food.
And, of course, there’s the evil witch who bakes children into pies and, in this rendition, cookies, Rosina Ruby Lips (Theodore Woods IV, baritone).
The musical stylings of the TAMUCC Orchestra cannot be forgotten either. Some of my personal favorites were the horn, piano, violin and flutes. But, regardless, the orchestra band did an amazing job of complimenting the singer’s voices and adding atmosphere to the show.
And of course, no opera show review would be complete without dis- cussing the singers themselves, whose voices gave me chills at time with how powerful and beautiful they were.
Hansel’s voice fit the character perfectly: the high-pitched notes mixed with the more mischievous undertones struck me as distinctly boyish in nature. Gretel’s voice was more feminine and a little higher but just as powerful as her brothers.
The “Do” Fairy’s voice was sweet and caring, giving her a trusting and care-taking nature which she fulfilled in the guiding role she took on for the children. Contrasting the honey notes of the “Do” Fairy is the Grease King, a baritone and deep voice that seemed to drip with the very grease that he’s supposedly covered in.
Having a baritone voice play the witch was an interesting choice that turned out to fit the character very well; it gave the witch a more sultry, persuasive sound, very befitting of a character who seduces children with sweets and promises of more to come in order to fatten them for her various human-centered recipes.
The music was pleasant and, while it did deal with more mature themes,like food insecurity and poverty, it still had a childish, light-hearted feel about it. Some of my favorites from the show was “Do Your Chores, Dear Hansel,” “Strawberry Song/Cuckoo” and “My Name is Rosina Ruby Lips/Hocus Pocus/ Victory Dance”.
The performance aimed to show the difficulties of food insecurity as well as inform the audience about how to be healthier but in a way that was en- tertaining to children and adults alike. Educational and well-performed, this performance was enjoyable from start to finish and even got a chuckle out of me on occasion.
Overall, I would recommend this show to those with young children who want to send a subtle message or just entertain them for an hour or so. The musical stylings of the orchestra paired with the beautifully-chilling voices of the opera performers made for an enjoyable experience for both young children and wise adults. I give this performance a four and a half star rating.