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A trip to the opera – Hansel and Gretel

November 19, 2007

Chers Amis,

Last Thursday we attended the Atlanta Opera’s performance of Hansel and Gretel atHg
the fabulous new Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.  What a treat!  We went to the 10 am show, arriving @9:20 to avoid the school bus crowds and were among the first there.  This was the first official field trip opportunity hosted by the Centre so the Director of Education and Community Outreach personnel were the best I have ever encountered. They met us as we emerged into the fall sunshine from the parking garage, checked us in and escorted us to our seats – 3rd row orchestra! No tickets to lose, no waiting in the Will Call line, only a sea of red vested volunteers.  We felt like we were arriving at the Oscars.  The facility is gorgeous too and of course the opera was wonderful.

This was the first time Caddie, Scarlett and Pippin had attended the opera and this rendition of Hansel and Gretel with the extraordinary use of giant puppets was  an entertaining and delectable first bite – though the witch was a bit too vampy and creepy.  The Atlanta Opera and Houston Grand Opera commissioned renown puppeteer Basil Twist  to design and produce the classic Hansel and Gretel in the style of Japanese bunraku puppetry.  This was an extra delight since we have been studying Japan and have talked quite a bit about kabuki theater and other Japanese art forms. (We have enjoyed the Japan National Tourist Organization site’s info on bunraku and kabuki.)

The best  materials I found to introduce opera to the kids were put together by the The Atlanta Opera in their 39 page Teacher’s Study Guide.  Not only did it provide information on Hansel and Gretel, the composer, the Brother’s Grimm, and Basil Twist, but it had super info on opera, putting together an opera, vocal technique, the various parts (soprano, mezzo soprano, tenor etc..), how it is cast, vocabulary, history of opera, and several printable worksheets.  It is worth checking it out even if you plan on attending a different opera for your first taste.  Hopefully it will be as rich as our experience was! Here are a few resources we enjoyed:

The Random House Book of Opera Stories retold by Adele Geras –  Very good.  I had heard of most of these operas, but never seen them and didn’t know the stories behind them.  It made me want to go see Aida 🙂

The Young Persons Guide to the Opera by Anita Ganeri and Nicola Barber includes a CD with music from the great operas including: The Barber of Seville, Madame Butterfly The Magic Flute and Carmen.

and for fun – and the younger crowd, Opera Cat  by Tess Weaver


PS –  Photos are by Brett Coomer from a Playbill Arts article on  the Houston Opera’s 2006 performance of the same opera and the Atlanta Opera.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 21, 2007 1:14 pm

    This sounds like a great experience.

  2. November 21, 2007 9:18 pm

    We saw this last year in Houston. I would go see it again in a heartbeat. Amazing! Glad you got to see it. I wish we would have found the study guide (if it was even online then) when we went.

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