World’s favourite fairytale opera is coming to the Watergate Theatre

This is a story of raw greed, mouth-wateringly sugar-coated for you

Sean Keane

Reporter:

Sean Keane

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sean.keane@kilkennypeople.ie

Hansel and Gretel

The new production of Hansel and Gretel comes to the Watergate Theatre on February 20

Irish National Opera, Theatre Lovett and the Abbey Theatre are collaborating for the first time on an exciting new production of Engelbert Humperdinck’s masterpiece, the compelling three-act opera Hansel and Gretel, reimagined in a mysterious modern setting.

One of the greatest operas about children, Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel is sweet and beguiling, combining childlike simplicity with heartaching beauty.

Don’t be fooled. This is a story of greed, mouth wateringly sugar-coated.

This provocative production will be performed in English by an Irish cast of six singers and three actors, with an ensemble of seven musicians on stage.

After six nights at the Abbey Theatre, this new production of the world’s favourite fairytale opera comes to the Watergate Theatre on Thursday, February 20.

Hansel and Gretel, with a libretto by the composer’s sister Adelheid Wette based on the Brothers Grimm's fairy tale, was an immediate, whirlwind success at its premiere in Weimar in December 1893. A year later it had been produced in 50 theatres in Germany alone, and it quickly made its way to Dublin, where it was produced in August 1895.

It’s one of the small number of operas that has an enduring appeal for children as well as adults and INO’s new production will be sung in David Pountney’s English translation.

Mezzo-soprano Raphaela Mangan, who sings Hansel, says, “A children’s story told through opera, what’s not to love?” And she describes the role of Hansel as “one of my favourite roles to sing”.

Soprano Amy Ní Fhearraigh, the production's Gretel, says “It’s the perfect opera for audiences young and old with its combination of lush but approachable and playful music. And of course, it’s a fairytale story that everyone knows and loves.”

The all-Irish cast also includes Miriam Murphy, who makes her INO stage debut as Mother. Ben McAteer, whose INO debut as the Count in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro was described by Opera Journal as “perfectly measured for technique and character,” sings Father.

Cork soprano Emma Nash, praised by the Sunday Independent for her “powerfully soaring Amore” in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice for INO, sings the Dew Fairy and Sandman. Carrickfergus mezzo-soprano Carolyn Dobbin makes her INO debut as the Witch.

Theatre Lovett has been described by The Irish Times “one of the most imaginative and indispensable companies at work today”.

Muireann Ahern, who co-directs the opera with Louis Lovett, says “We are thrilled to be sinking our teeth into Humperdinck’s delicious opera. Our penchant is for stage work that appeals to all ages.

“We are looking forward to working with Irish National Opera for the first time, and bringing our cross-generational approach to this operatic party.

“We will have a fresh slant on the situation of the poverty-stricken family whose children stray into a beguiling culinary underworld.”