I’m thrilled to be back in Ottawa to direct the OLO Studio Artists in Hansel and Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck. This is a 45-minute English adaptation for young audiences which I created with Leslie Dala a few years ago for Vancouver Opera, and it’s been great returning to it with OLO’s talented Studio Artists Beth Horst, Sarah Steinert, Marie Claire Fafard-Blais and Mark Gough. The fabulous Judy Ginsberg provides the musical direction and plays Humperdinck’s glorious score.
This version takes a fresh look at the traditional tale. Set and Costume Designer Christine Reimer suggested we give the Witch her own ‘mobile gingerbread home’ – fondly referred to as the “Witchibego”. Gretel describes the Witch as “too friendly’, and so we used this as a good excuse to avoid green makeup and a black hat. The Witchibego is chauffeured through the forest by the Witch’s very clever cat who of course makes things difficult for Gretel and Hansel as they try to escape. (Mark Gough, who many may remember as the Donkey in last year’s Bremen Town Musicians, is hilarious in yet another beastly role.) The show is a lot of fun for the kids in the audience as they watch Hansel and Gretel learn to work together to outsmart the Witch. At the same time, they are being exposed to one of opera’s most beautiful scores- lush, playful, full of character and atmosphere.
The production staff have put together a gorgeous production with whimsical costumes, delectable props and a clever set which fits perfectly into the NAC Fourth Stage. After that, the show packs up into a van and the cast takes it on tour to Ottawa area-schools. We are all really looking forward to presenting this yummy treat to opera fans of all ages!
Ann Hodges, Director