The general picture that comes to mind when one thinks of an opera is very large people in horned hats singing for hours in some unrecognizable language about death or unrequited love.
Aside from the funny hats, it probably sounds less than enjoyable.
Good thing CSUâ€™s newest opera production, â€œHansel and Gretel,â€ is nothing like that.
â€œItâ€™s going to be nice for people whoâ€™ve never seen opera before,â€ said assistant director and sophomore music education major Cassie Murray.
This free production is directed by Kelly Taylor and performed both today and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the University Center for the Arts Organ Recital Hall, the production cannot be described as anything short of adorable â€“â€“ and itâ€™s performed in English.
The opera follows the storyline of the traditional Grimms brothersâ€™ fairytale about a brother and sister who get lost in the woods and stumble upon the candy house of a child-eating witch. Hansel and Gretel eventually escape from the evil witch by pushing her into the very oven she planned to cook them in and make their way back to their mother and father in a time-honored happy ending.
Christie Connolley, a graduate vocal performance student who plays the witch, said the show definitely â€œrides the lineâ€ between dark and humorous, while it still retains the old-fashioned charm of the beloved fairy tale.
Alexandra Diessner, a senior vocal theater major who plays Gretel, calls it a â€œclassicâ€ that â€œdoesnâ€™t get old.â€
The opera itself is called a mÃ¤rchenoper, or fairy tale opera, and was written by Engelbert Humperdinck. The original opera was first performed in 1893, and, Diessner said, is still a â€œvery popularâ€ show, which was originally sung in German.
Itâ€™s certainly a staple of opera, and the storyline is one that has embedded itself in American culture over the years.
The original production is also nearly three hours long, but CSUâ€™s version has been cut down to one.
Although many cuts have been made, Diessner said the basic plot of the story everyone knows and loves has been preserved, along with the most essential songs that both advance the plot and for which the opera is famous.
â€œThe Childrenâ€™s Prayer,â€ a libretto sang by both Hansel and Gretel, is the most well known of these and is one of the most well known opera songs of all time. Connolley said it is â€œthe best part of the show.â€
Singing alongside the cast of eight CSU students is artist-in-residence Chuck Taylor, a baritone and veteran of the Metropolitan Opera cast in the role of the father. His deep, overpowering voice lends star power to the show.
â€œItâ€™s important for us to see the passion they put into their work,â€ said Murray of the professionals who work with the students in their opera production.
CSUâ€™s opera program only puts on two main stage operas per year, the operas themselves counting as a class for the students cast in them.
Hansel and Gretel is an operetta and is more of what Connolley calls a â€œworkshopâ€ opera for students â€“â€“ one with a much smaller cast and much less time.
The cast, which is dominantly female and composed exclusively of sopranos, with the exception of Charles Taylor, has only had between what Diessner estimates to be between six and eight rehearsals before their actual performances.
â€œThatâ€™s how it is in the real world,â€ said Diessner with a shrug when asked how she thought the rehearsals would affect the performance.
Staff writer Savannah King can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.