Opera Theater’s Fall Production Opens Wednesday

November 5, 2013
Emily Peragine

A classic children’s tale takes an exhilarating turn toward the macabre in Oberlin Opera Theater’s fall production of Hänsel und Gretel.

Contrary to popular belief, Engelbert Humperdinck’s most popular work is not just for children—and in this unique rendition, it’s barely for children at all. Centered on two young siblings who find themselves lost in the woods, the story contains underlying themes of starvation and violence that provide a dark edge and keep adults fastened in their seats.

As envisioned by Oberlin Opera Theater Director Jonathon Field, this Hänsel und Gretel is recommended for audiences 12 years and older.

“The premise that I'm starting from is that the family is poor, ignorant, and starving,” says Field. “This atmosphere of violence, rather than stopping the children, enables them to overcome the Witch. In fact, that act of killing the witch empowers them in a very strange way.”

Featuring the Oberlin Choristers led by Jennifer Call, the production marks the Hall Auditorium debut of set designer Christopher McCollum and the return of soprano Karen Jesse ’04, who portrayed the Mother and the Witch when Oberlin Opera Theater staged the show in 2003. “As usual, operatic standards at Oberlin soared, like the wicked old witch's exuberant broomstick,” the Plain Dealer wrote at the time.

Performances of Hänsel und Gretel will take place at 8 p.m. on November 6, 8, and 9, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, November 10.

Tickets are $6 for students; $10 for seniors, Oberlin College staff, and alumni; and $15 for the general public. All seats are reserved. Tickets may be purchased online, by calling Oberlin’s Central Ticket Service (CTS) at 440-775-8169 or 800-371-0178, or by visiting the box office in the lobby of Hall Auditorium (67 N. Main St., Oberlin). CTS hours are noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and select Saturdays. Tickets are $3 more when purchased at the door.

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