City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Scottish Opera: Hansel and Gretel Review

By Barnaby Miln - Posted on 15 February 2012

Hansel and Gretel cast
Show Details
Scottish Opera
Humperdinck, Hansel and Gretel. A new translation by Bill Bankes-Jones. 
Kai Rüütel (Hansel), Ailish Tynan (Gretel), Paul Carey Jones (Peter), Leah-Marian Jones (The Witch), Shuna Scott Sendall (Gertrude), Miranda Sinani (Sandman), Marie Claire Breen (Dew Man), Emmanuel Joël-Hornak (conductor), Bill Bankes-Jones (director),  Tim Meacock (designer), Mark Doubleday (lighting) and Kally Lloyd-Jones (movement director).
Running time: 

It seemed such an appropriate performance for half term week in Edinburgh and an ideal starting off point for youngsters into the wonderful world of opera. The Director, Bill Bankes-Jones, had rewritten the text into modern day language and not only was the opera sung in clear Engish but we had supertitles to read too.

Paul Carey Jones as Peter was the firm father who was flirtatiously drunk. He was the perfect foil for Shuna Scott Sendall as Gertrude who was left as the mother to feed hungry and boisterous children in their woodman’s cottage. Threatening the unruly Hansel and Gretel with a ‘wait until your father gets home’ she sends them out into the woods to gather strawberries.

The overture gave a hint of the singing by Hansel and Gretel of the Evening Benediction that came at the end of Act 2. The fourteen angels silently gathered around will be an abiding memory. Seeing their fourteen mug shots in the programme I wondered if any were angels in real life!

Tall trees begin to move ever so slightly and Hansel and Gretel’s adventure unfolds very convincingly. They end up eating sweets in the clutches of a not so much frightening but certainly engaging Witch, played by Leah-Marian Jones. Back in the Scottish Opera production of 1998 she had been Hansel but with a more frightening Witch.

The Witch is dealt with, and there are some pyrotechnics. More than twenty children appear, and it’s a happy ending.

Engelbert Humperdinck (1854-1921) based his opera Hansel and Gretel on one of the 211 Grimms’ Brothers fairy tales first published in 1812. The opera was first performed in Weimar in eastern Germany in 1893 when the conductor was Richard Strauss. A year later it was conducted by Gustav Mahler.

Performance reviewed: Tuesday 14 February 2012. 

Further performances on Thursday 16 February 2011 7.15pm and Saturday 18 February 2012.