Friday, January 16, 2015

Too Bad You'll Miss Opera Memphis’ “Hansel & Gretel.”

Posted By on Fri, Jan 16, 2015 at 12:44 PM

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The best review a show can get is a sell out. And Opera MemphisHansel & Gretel is sold out. No matter how badly you want to see it, chances are pretty good that you can’t.

And I’m sorry that you can’t. The tale is told well enough from "Once upon a time" to "The End." It moves fluidly with the assistance of some talented young dancers from Ballet Memphis. Performances are charming across the board, even if some aren't taken as far as they might go. The singing is very good and Engelbert Humperdinck's luminescent score is beautifully played. Those not lulled to sleep by the show’s gorgeous lullaby, will enjoy a fun, family-friendly night at the opera. But the real reason you should try to defy the odds, get on a waiting list, or beat the bushes for tickets, is a chance to drink in Michelle Duckworth’s fantastic storybook renderings.

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Duckworth is a local artist with a real knack for adventurous imagery and fanciful illustration. Opera Memphis’ set consists exclusively of a pair of tables and three ever-changing panels where Duckworth’s colorful drawings are projected and, in some cases, animated. Her trees look like a marriage of Seuss and Sendak. Her interiors are full of storybook detail.

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Opera Memphis’ General Director Ned Canty has often said that he aims to produce one PIXAR-inspired opera a year. By that he means a show that targets kids without pandering, and appeals to adults without compromise. Hansel & Gretel accomplishes that in a minimalist environment that, thanks to a strong ensemble and Duckworth’s illustrations, gives the impression of being stuffed and cozy. 

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