Review: WNO - Hansel & Gretel @ WMC
A classic Welsh National Opera production has returned to the Wales Millennium Centre this spring. This Olivier-winning production is now iconic, thanks to director Richard Jones, illustrator John Macfarlane (with Francis Bacon-inspired paintings) and the other great designers and musicians who have made it what it is.
Owing a large amount to Wagner, lighter works of opera and even German folk songs, Humperdinck's score is as delightful as it is satisfying. Some lovely highlights include the exquisite Evening Prayer, the Sandman's song just before it, and the entire scene with the witch.
My warm regards to the lead parts of the evening. Both are female roles and, here, Jurgita Adamonyt (Hansel) and Ailish Tynan (Gretel) gave polished and authentic portrayals of childlike mischief and sensibilities. In her trouser role, it's staggering how male Adamonyt looked as the brutish, yet sympathetic brother.
Adrian Thompson stole the show in a fat suit, as the flaming and grisly witch.
The children's parents were a startling Wagnerian Miriam Murphy and a drunk, yet warning Ashley Holland. Meriel Andrew, playing both the Sandman (with some great puppetry going on here) and Dew Fairy, delivered with great beauty, oomph and aplomb. The local children, surviving the witch's clutches at the end of the show, were also charming and lovingly sang.
A recorder, as bird song, and the female chorus mimicking Hansel's echo, are also very nice touches.
In a show all about food, hunger and cannibalism, it's hard not to think of your own next meal whilst watching it. It brings up the futility of having to constantly eat, but raises a plate to the joy of eating good food and being content for a little while.
Lovingly vulgar and always a delight to hear. Well worth seeing for people with opera-phobia.
Rating: 4 Stars
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Image Credit: Robert Workman