'I think therefore I am.'  Descartes            'I AM THAT I AM.'  Exodus.3.        'I am what I am.'  La Cage aux Folles

30 August 2015

Hansel and Gretel

Hansel and Gretel
Conservatorium Theatre 
20th August 2015

Hansel and Gretel is pure delight. Last night at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University I saw Engelbert Humperdinck's 1893 opera which is jam packed full of lush, melodic music with the outstanding orchestration so Wagnerian in scale at times played by the great forces and brilliant sound of the Conservatorium Orshestra under the direction of German born conductor Johannes Fritzsch who had first conducted this opera for Opera Australia in 1992. Wonderful singing and spot on acting, great set and lighting by always illuminating Jason Glenwright made for a truly enjoyable evening. Once again I was so impressed by the beautiful resonant sound of Samuel Piper as the Father. He impressed me in 'The Coronation of Poppea' recently and yet again I thought this is a voice I hope to see grow into a regular on our stages. 
The exceptionally well received Witch of tenor Phillip Prendergast was laugh out loud fun and also vocally inspired. Everyone knows he is going far. Phillip I had too seen in the recent Poppea and he starred in that. 
Harking back to that Monteverdi there was a small role, but outstandingly beautiful voice that grabbed me and that was Cameron Taylor, who I was really delighted to finally meet and chat to a couple of times in the foyer. So great to hear that he is continuing on to study at the Lisa Gasteen Opera School next year. This is like a circle as I recall so well seeing Lisa as a student at the conservatorium across the river back in the late 70's and how outstanding she was before she embarked on a huge international career which took her to Bayreuth and the Met etc I have seen her mammoth performances several times and now she is sharing that experience.It is a pity her students may not have had the pleasure of her Don Carlo or Force Of Destiny let alone her Brunhilda.

I did notice that in the programme the conductor referring back to his previous outing with this opera believed that the Elija Moshinsky production back in 1992 was the first fully staged production in Australia. Well I remember one by the old Queensland Opera back around 1980 at Her Majesty's Theatre with Margaret Russell, Luise Napier, Helen Sinden, Patricia Kelly, Margaret Noonan and a fabulously funny Gloria Eiser as the witch flying across the stage cackling. The Australian Opera production came here in 1996 under the auspices of Opera Queensland and that had such luminaries as con graduate and international Clare Gormley as Gretel and the astounding star Suzanne Johnston as Hansel and a fun note is Warwick Adeney (current concert Master of the Qld Symphony) was the concert master of the Qld Philharmonic (later to be absorbed into Qld symphony). I still have that programme. Anyway there was a thunderous applause and cheering at the end from the full house. 

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