Opera de Montreal
Hansel and Gretel at l’Opéra de Montréal
From the 22nd to the 29th of March 2014, The Atelier Lyrique joined forces with the National Circus School and the National Theatre School of Canada to present an original production of Englebert Humperdinck’s fairy tale opera, Hansel and Gretel.
Since 1984, The Atelier Lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal has provided professional internships - combining training and on-stage experience - for over one hundred and sixty-seven young Canadian artists who wished to pursue an operatic career.
From the 22nd to the 29th of March 2014, The Atelier Lyrique of l'Opéra de Montréal, joined forces with the National Circus School and the National Theatre School of Canada to present an original production of Englebert Humperdinck’s fairy tale opera, Hansel and Gretel.
Hansel and Gretel are sent into the woods by their enraged mother (soprano France Bellemare) to pick strawberries. With the arrival of nightfall, they lose their way in the forest and are duly visited by the Dew Fairy, the Sandman ( soprano Florie Valiquette) and other fantastic creatures of the night. At the break of dawn, a mouth-watering gingerbread house appears alluringly in sight. Ah! the pleasures of sweets...if only a threatening cannibalistic witch didn’t have her sights set on the two children...
Sung in German with English-French subtitles, the Grimm brothers fairytale was a delightful opera filled with refreshing melodies and lively characters. The opera’s libretto was written by Humperdinck's sister Adelheid Wette, which combined the richness of a Wagnerian orchestra with folk music-inspired songs : one of the most famous being the "Abendsegen" ("Evening Benediction") from act 2.
It is a rare treat indeed that three performing arts training companies could team up to work collaboratively on a large scale production. Among this year’s talented roaster of young performers, the two leads: mezzo-soprano Emma Char as Hansel (recently seen in l’Opéra de Montréal’s production of Manon) and coloratura soprano Frédérique Drolet as Gretel, (First prize winner at Canada’s 2008 musical contest) amazed me with the strength of their singing, acting, stage presence and general characterization of the two hungry children.
The set was designed in a way that the various scenes appear to burst out directly from a children's pop-up fairytale book, complete with a folding paper forest and retracting sweets of various shapes and sizes. The students of the national circus and theater schools were interesting collaborators with tight-rope walkers, jugglers and acrobats that especially heightened with a surrealistic touch, the children's dream sequence.
A unique-concept, family friendly, theatrical opera that definitely whisked audiences back to the sweet dreams and pleasures of childhood.
As usual with all Opera de Montreal productions, I love the pre-opera talks that precede each performance. Hosted with gusto by musicologist Pierre Vachon, this convivial get-together is a dynamic and “user-friendly” introduction to the performance, a bit like a journey into the heart of the opera’s music and history. Attendees get a better understanding of the libretto, the opera's symbols and the production in general. Pre - operas are free for subscribers and $5 for general public. -
Production : Atelier Lyrique, National Theater School of Canada and National Circus School
Up-coming production : TURANDOT 17, 20, 22 & 24 of May presented at Salle WILFRID - PELLETIER at la Place des Arts
For more information on up-coming productions presented by l’Opéra de Montréal
Please consult : http://www.operademontreal.com/en