Sunday, December 9, 2018

Hansel and Gretel Dress Rehearsal

Orlando Opera presents Hansel and Gretel at the Alexis and Jim Pugh Theater in the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts (445 South Magnolia Avenue Orlando FL). Engelbert Humperdinck’s operatic retelling of the ever-popular Grimm fairy tale features a lush score and charming characters that, on Christmas Day in 1931, became the first complete Metropolitan Opera radio-broadcast performance.

The cast includes mezzo-soprano Sarah Purser as Hansel, soprano Jillian Marini as Gretel, soprano Samantha Barnes Daniel as the mother, baritone Ben Ludwig as the father, and tenor Jess Muñoz as the witch. Opera Orlando’s music and education director Robin Jensen conducts, and creative director Grant Preisser directs. Come and get lost in the woods this holiday season.

Hansel and Gretel shirked their chores and played together with childish abandon. Then their mother arrived and discovered that Hansel had gotten no work done. Gretel had managed to keep sweeping even as she played but they were scolded anyways.

All the trees on stage were on wheels, so the stage shape shifted throughout the production. A banner above the stage was used to project the lyrics which weren't much needed since the production was in English. However the witch at this rehearsal was difficult to hear, which was probably a technical issue that will be worked out. A large gingerbread man doubled as the oven towards the end of the evening.

Wood nymphs and plenty of stage mist created some mystery as the children got lost and fell asleep in the woods. An enthusiastic cast of children helped sell the horror of the fate of Hansel and Gretel. The children were dressed up like gingerbread Gumbys with large flat mittens and featureless faces.

The witch and a wood nymph wandered into the audience several times, breaking the fourth wall and adding some intimacy to the production. Perhaps because this is a familiar story line, the ending seemed anti-climactic. Clearly staged for children, this could be a fun family outing.

Tonight's final performance on Sunday December 9, 2018 at 2pm is unavailable which I assume means sold out. Tickets

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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