I cannot believe a month has gone by already! The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas flies by so fast!
This months Opera focus is Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. This German fairy tale opera took its premiere on December 23rd 1893 making a fitting choice for our December opera (among other reasons of course).
Attending Hansel and Gretel at Chautauqua during the summer of 2001 was my first opera going experience. I was 15 years old and was participating in a summer chorale studies program. While it took many years later to finally dive into my enjoyment for opera, Hansel and Gretel has always been near and dear to my heart. Fast forward to Spring 2008 for my operatic role debut: Gretel.
I find this opera (particularly if you watch an english version) to be accessible to most everyone. It’s a familiar fairy tale, easy to follow story line, and musically so clear to listen to. You don’t need to be a music scholar to enjoy this. I believe you shouldn’t have to be a music scholar to enjoy ANY opera but given various time periods and styles often times operas get a bad rep for being inaccessible outside of those studying it. I even plan to introduce my nieces and nephew to this opera and they are all under the age of 10.
Before diving into watching a performance (you can view it on The Met Opera on Demand app/website) I recommend listening to the overture. It has the main musical themes you will hear throughout the opera. Listen to it a few times; really absorb the melodies. Also, it’s incredibly stunning and if you’re not in the holiday spirit this overture will get you there!
If the thought of getting into the holiday spirit with a familiar fun fairy tale isn’t enticing enough just remember there’s a colorful cannibalistic witch! Not necessarily something you want to associate with the holidays but remember all works out in the end (at least in this version it does).
To wrap it all up, enjoy this clip of “Evening Prayer”. You may have heard it before…