Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Praise for Hansel & Gretel

Sasha Cooke as Hansel and Ashley Emerson as Gretel. Philip Newton photo
"Seattle Opera's innovative and highly recommendable production of Hansel and Gretel features a hauntingly gorgeous forest filled with garbage, which was designed by Keith Nagy. The clear-cut trees in the woods resemble prison bars, and at the end of the show, the children escape the witch but they load up their grocery basket with candy to take home, suggesting that they're still caught in the endless cycle of overconsumption." - The Stranger 

"Colorful, lively, pertinent, fun and well sung." - The SunBreak

"General Director Aidan Lang decided to bring the Humperdinck evergreen back to Seattle Opera ...It turns out to have been a smart choice... and another clue to Lang's theatrical aesthetic since he's taken over the reins in Seattle. - Bachtrack 

"The woods resemble those at the end of The Lorax—a bleak landscape of denuded truffula trees after the Once-ler got through with them—while Hansel and Gretel’s forest hut is cunningly recast as a giant tattered corrugated-cardboard box." - The Seattle Weekly

Amanda Opuszynski as the Dew Fairy. Philip Newton photo
"Amanda Opuszynski made a strikingly graceful appearance as both the Sandman and the Dew Fairy." - Bachtrack

"A marvelously witty shadow-play film clip between acts introduces the Witch in silhouette as she vainly kick-starts a series of misbehaving brooms, finally picking out her ideal vehicle and zooming all over the screen."- The Seattle Times

"If an operatic fairy-tale frosted with social commentary sounds like the recipe for a nightmare of 'Regie' pretension, not to worry: Pelly's approach not only avoids any hint of annoying preachiness but admirably and artfully layers in generous dollops of touching sentiment and outrageous humour." - Bachtrack 

Sasha Cooke (Hansel) and Ashley Emerson (Gretel). Philip Newton photo
"Cooke has a big, supple sound; Emerson’s lighter and beautifully produced soprano was an ideal counterpart to Cooke’s boyish portrayal. Their acting was realistic and detailed, constantly in motion — just as real kids are." - The Seattle Times 

"The role of the Witch, cast as a character tenor and clad in a suit and wig of ghastly pink (the costumes are also designed by Pelly), allowed John Easterlin ample opportunity to mine comic gesture and rhythm. His Mime-like affectations made him weirdly endearing and brought to mind the fairy-tale origins of Siegfried, as well as its scherzoish banter." - Bachtrack

"John Easterlin’s Witch was attired in a wonderfully hideous bright-pink suit, soon opened to display even more startling underpinnings. He employed a wide repertoire of cackles and shrieks, along with some fine singing, in creating a memorable character. On Sunday, Peter Marsh (similarly attired) took over the broomstick with equally impressive results, putting his own spin on witchy menace and vocal alacrity."- The Seattle Times

John Easterlin (The Witch) returns to Seattle Opera Oct. 15, 22, 26, & 29.  Jacob Lucas photo
"...and best of all the Seattle Symphony, with decades of applicable Wagner experience, makes Humperdinck’s music all it can be under conductor Sebastian Lang-Lessing." - Seattle Weekly 

"Anya Matanovic was a vocally assured and charming Gretel; Sarah Larsen was a convincing and beautifully sung Hansel." - The Seattle Times

"As the parents, Marcy Stonikas and Mark Walters are exceptionally good, able to present conflicting emotions while still caring about their children’s welfare. Both have first-rate voices that illuminate their characters." - The Seattle Times

Sarah Larsen (Hansel) and Anya Matanovic (Gretel). Philip Newton photo

"... marvelously memorable sets and lighting design are the work of Barbara de Limburg and Joël Adam, respectively." - Bachtrack

The orchestra, led by Sebastian Lang-Lessing, was really the star of the production, performing Humperdinck’s opulent neo-Wagnerian score with lyricism and accuracy. Lang-Lessing never overwhelmed the cast or let the pace flag." - The Seattle Times

"The excellent children’s chorus, prepared by chorusmaster Beth Kirchhoff, is surprisingly affecting as they emerge in a stupor from the Witch’s candied domain — giving opera fans a truly heartwarming finale." - The Seattle Times

"Too often, Humperdinck is glossed over as 'Wagner-lite', yet Lang-Lessing takes this music seriously on its own terms, with glorious results. The score's beautifully orchestrated textures were allowed to bloom and cast their enthralling spell and, in the final scene, joie de vivre." - Bachtrack 

Peter Marsh (The Witch). Jacob Lucas photo