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Opera: Gingerbread Terror Strikes New Zealand

Opera: Gingerbread Terror Strikes New Zealand

Hansel and Gretel review Kevin List - Images courtesy Adrian Malloch.

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Anna Pierard-Hansel, Helen Medlyn-Witch, Ana James-Gretel


As something of an Opera expert after enjoying La Boheme a few months back it came as something of a shock that Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel was sung in English. Granted it took a few minutes to actually work out the famed childrens' fairy tale was in English but yeah, and verily it was so.

The first part of the Hansel and Gretel experience was probably the only part that slightly grated. In this part we meet the young troopers who are ready to have a wander in the wild woods and their grumpy mother and alcoholic dad. The action is set in a sparse futuristic set with what looks like shower curtain utilised as a barrier between the children's house and outside. The strange Beehive hairdo on the Mother is also a bit off-putting.

However, after this its pretty much full speed ahead to fairy tale land with each of the remaining sets and lighting proving well worth the price of admission alone.

For this reveiewer the hi-light would have been the spooky arrival of the dew-fairy a benevolent fairy godmother type who floats in on the moonlight mysteriously swathed in rags. The Opera switches also to a more ethereal dreamy state for this interlude as well.

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Helen Medlyn the wicked witch


Later on we have a magnificent array of giant hardboiled sweets and the gingerbread making witches arrival along with Edward Scissor-hand like talons. In the background is a blazing furnace ready to bake a couple of real gingerbread children.

It would be churlish to spoil the ending of the story – suffice to say there are no Frederick Forsyth like unexpected plot twists.

On the night this reviewer went there were quite a few children – which was lucky as my screams of terror at being baked by the mean old witch were probably drowned out by the young uns' whimpering.

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Barbara Paterson The nice Dew Fairy


The visual and aural feast that was served up at the Opera House in Wellington is on tour throughout New Zealand over July and August

More details and dates

  • Opera takes to the road with Hansel and Gretel
  • ENDS

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