Skip to main content

Hansel und Gretel at the Royal Opera

On entering the auditorium, I saw a detailed and realistic image of a valley (presumably concocted from photographs of German or Austrian countryside) projected onto the stage. I had high hopes that this new production of Hansel und Gretel will have staging that relates to the story (the last time the Royal Opera staged this, a 60s trailer and a ghastly morgue were inflicted on us). I was not to be disappointed - Anthony McDonald gave us a realistic design, with the first act set in a cosy house with barren shelves. The forest scene in Act 2 was magical - there were trees, mist, forest creatures - not to mention characters from other Grimm tales during the dream sequence. Act 3 started with a innocent and inviting looking gingerbread house, but on rotation a large cauldron (presumably for turning fat children into gingerbread) was revealed!



Hansel and Gretel were sung by Hanna Hipp and Jennifer Davis respectively. They looked the part and sounded fresh - all helped to convey two mischievous youths. Eddie Wade stepped in to play Peter who delivered his part with gusto (considering he was a last minute cast change). Gerhard Siegel was hilariously good. Sebastian Weigle was in the pit delivering a lush Wagnerian soundscape while achieving good balance with the small cast on stage.

Altogether it was a lovely and magical evening at the opera.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Otello, The Royal Opera

The buzz was huge just getting into the house, invaded by opera glitterati and pan-European fans of the one star we were here to see: Jonas Kaufmann. He didn't disappoint. Kaufmann gave a nuanced, thoughtful and emphatic performance. His portrayal of Otello was multi-faceted. The duet with Iago (Marco Vratogna) was gripping, so was the murder scene in the last act. Maria Agresta's Desdemona was excellent - particularly the willow song in the last act.



Keith Warner's direction was excellent in the last act - with all that contrasting emotions and dramas. But the first act somehow lacked direction - there were times when even Otello was milling about. Set designer Boris Kudlička's dark and moody motive went along with the drama, rather than contrasting against it. So after a while, I got bored looking at the set. Wish there were more colours.

Pappano took a brisk tempo throughout, at times risking the choral and orchestral ensemble, but the rewards was a full-blood…

From the House of the Dead, the Royal Opera

Janáček's From the House of the Dead was not going to be an "easy listening" piece. The drama was intense and claustrophobic - perhaps that's intentional. Unlike Káťa Kabanová or Jenůfa where there was a greater story arc, The House was more choppy - including two plays within the opera. All in all a very intense evening.



Poème symphonique, British Museum

Now how often does one get to hear Ligeti's "joke" Poème symphonique? It came about recently at the British Library. Or rather, it was performed in the old British Library reading room. 100 metronomes arranged neatly on a platform, lit, and poised to commence. After a short introduction, a small team of museum staff flicked the metronomes and the performance started. It was a cacophony of sound echoed by the reading room's unique acoustic. It's strangely mesmerizing and hypnotic. From time to time, some metronomes came together into unison, and then dissipated. It had an organic quality to it. If one ever wondered, it took about 25 minutes until the last remaining metronome on Largo came to a stop. It was fun!