A gingerbread house, a wicked witch, the beautiful "Evening Prayer," the Sandman bringing sweet dreams ... What is not to love about "Hansel and Gretel"?
In a sweet touch for Buffalo's Christmas season, Buffalo Opera Unlimited is bringing the beloved fairy tale opera by Engelbert Humperdinck -- the German Romantic composer, not the lounge singer -- to the Performing Arts Center at Rockwell Hall, SUNY Buffalo State College. Fully staged and sung in English, the opera features a gingerbread house on stage -- and gingerbread cookies for everyone after the performance.
Hansel and Gretel are portrayed by, respectively, Elizabeth Wojtowicz, who is on the voice faculty of Buffalo State College, and Amy Teal, who teaches voice at Buffalo State College and Niagara University. Meghan Attridge, a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, sings the part of the children's stepmother, with Jeffrey Coyle as the father. The crowd-pleasing role of the Witch is filled by Allyn Van Dusen, a Rochester singer who studied at Eastman with mezzo soprano Jan DeGaetani.
Karen D'Angelo is the Dew Fairy. D'Angelo sang in 2015 with the Viva Vivaldi festival and was praised in The News as a light, bright coloratura soprano who seemed fearless: "As she soared to the heights and tackled those elaborate ornaments she gave every impression of enjoying herself." Emily DiMartino sings the bittersweet role of the Sandman. DiMartino, a recent Canisius College alumna, has appeared with Nickel City Opera and Opera Sacra.
A cast of children completes the picture. Young ballet dancers from the Darlene Ceglia Dance Project are appearing as angels. The witch's captured kiddies are played by kids from the choirs of St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral. There will be a full orchestra.
Performances take place at 8 p.m. Dec. 2 and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 4 at Rockwell Hall, 1300 Elmwood Ave. on the campus of Buffalo State College. Tickets are $30 general admission, $25 for seniors and $10 for students. The set, including a gingerbread house, is designed by David King, with lighting by Harry Mandris. The production will be conducted by Tim Kennedy, founder and artistic director of Buffalo Opera Unlimited.
For additional enjoyment the fairy tale recounted by the Brothers Grimm will be read 30 minutes prior to curtain time.