"Hansel And Gretel" – Kentucky Opera's Holiday Treat

By Henry C. Mayer

Once again, Kentucky Opera has chosen Humperdinck's musical adaptation of the well-known Grimm's fairy tale as its production for this holiday time of year. Only this year's presentation is a totally new production and, happily, it takes place at the Macauley Theater, where, as its producers admit, the acoustics can and do make a significant difference.

From left, Melissa Bybee as Hansel, Dean Anthony as the Witch and Mary Elizabeth Southworth as Gretel

Although the young at heart can enjoy this opera, it is basically a work for the young in fact. Not all local children can afford tickets, so Louisville Music News joins Kentucky Opera in thanking the following local organizations for purchasing tickets: Big Brothers & Sisters, Cedar Lake Lodge, Cabbage Patch Settlement, Home Of The Innocents, St. Joseph's Children's Home, Duvalle Boys & Girls Club, Boys Haven, Bellewood Presbyterian Home For Children, Catholic Charities Emigration, Louisville & Jefferson County Parks Department, Baptist Children's Home, U of L Housing Resident Life.

A number of persons have suggested that last year's production with its innovative use of digitized orchestra technology significantly affected attendance. This year's advanced ticket sales seems to indicate that using this technology is still a factor at the box office. This article is not the place to discuss the pros and cons of this usage because its use at this time and place are affected by other factors such as the availability of the Louisville Orchestra.

Some other observations: Lighting Designer H. Charles Schmidt deserves a double bow for designing innovative lighting, since he had to do so before he saw the new sets. Nancy Hanaford did a fine job in providing extra costumes despite a hectic schedule. The Children's Chorus from St. Francis School was simply charming and picturesquely attired. Conductor Robin Stamper brought both musical know-how and enthusiasm to his task.

Once again, Dean Anthony's representation of the Witch is a triumph of musical and acting talent. Melissa Bybee is a highly believable Hansel with a voice pleasing to the ear. Neither should one overlook Craig Priebel's reappearance as the children's father, a demanding role.

A final thought: would Amahl and the Night Visitors be a more appropriate presentation for this season? Its presentation at Southern Seminary was highly competent and its story seems more suitable to the time.