Magazine article Opera Canada

Hansel and Gretel: Humperdinck

Magazine article Opera Canada

Hansel and Gretel: Humperdinck

Article excerpt

HANSEL AND GRETEL

Humperdinck

Mentzer, Murphy, Forst, Taylor, Orth, Christy. Milwaukee Children's Choir, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Andreas Delfs, conductor. AVIE Records (2 CDs)

Many hard-core opera-goers remain allergic to the idea of foreign-language master-pieces performed in English translation, but of all the works in the repertory, Engelbert Humperdinck's magical Hansel and Gretel is a ripe prospect for that treatment. Long a favorite for introducing young children to the medium, its rich and transparent scoring allows singers (at least, those with impeccable diction) to cut through the orchestra with great clarity, thereby enriching the experience for the young, who are, after all, often not able to read projected titles. And the translation here, by Tom Hammond for the opera's publisher, Schott Music, is very idiomatic and rarely jarring.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

A number of English-language audio recordings and videos from staged productions of Hansel and Gretel have come in and out of circulation, but this one (a live rendering, from a concert performance in November 2003) claims to be the first modern recording in English. Andreas Delfs and his orchestra conjure some gorgeously round tones in the prelude, with perfectly tuned horns and a lilting flute to introduce our young hero and heroine.

The most immediately attractive feature of the playful opening scene is that the voices of Hansel (Suzanne Mentzer) and Gretel (Heidi Grant Murphy) are clearly distinguishable from one another. …

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