In September 2004, Engelbert Humperdinck’s fairytale opera Hansel and Gretel was performed, to critical acclaim at the Independent Theatre.
The opera was performed in English with a 12-instrument chamber orchestra under the artistic direction of Christine Douglas and the musical direction of Brett Weymark.
The cast was lead by soprano Penelope Mills and mezzo-soprano Sian Pendry. Peter McCallum, Sydney Morning Herald said:
“This is opera on a shoestring with witty, inventive direction from Christine Douglas — excellent singing from the principals. Anyone interested in opera should support this — because it provides such essential proving ground for young talent”
October 25th 2004 saw Pacific Opera performing a Gala concert at the NSW Supreme Court and a concert version of Hansel and Gretel at the Sydney Opera House for the Australian Orthopaedic Association Humanitarian Services Fund.
- Sian Pendry
- Penny Mills
- Narelle Yeo
- Douglas McCrae
- Katie Gerber
- Verity Snook
- Leah Thomas
Penelope Mills in foreground as Gretel with Pacific Opera chorus.
Penelope Mills as Gretel and Sian Pendry as Hansel
HANSEL & GRETEL
Pacific Opera’s Hansel and Gretel is set in 1930’s Depression era Sydney. Hansel and Gretel are the children of Peter, a struggling broom maker and Gertie, an overworked mum who takes in other women’s washing. They live in a tiny house in The Rocks.
Like all children H&G prefer to play than do their chores. We find them mucking around and making a mess until their mum comes home and angrily sends them off to the back lanes to collect mulberries for dinner. Gertie is desperately tired and wishes she hadn’t yelled at the children. Peter arrives home very happy having stopped at the pub on the way after selling lots of brooms. His happiness quickly disappears when he finds out where the children have been sent. He tells Gertie there’s an evil old woman preying on children in those very lanes. Both mum and dad rush out to find Hansel and Gretel before it is too late.
Act Two (Played together with Act One)
The children have run and run and find themselves across the water in a great big park. Gretel finds flannel flowers to weave into a ring while Hans picks mulberries. They are hungry and decide to eat a few. Soon they realise they’ve eaten the lot, that it is getting dark and they don’t know which way to go. Gretel takes fright at something moving, it’s the Sandman, a harmless old hobo who sends them off to sleep with the help of his magic sand. The children dream of fourteen angels and a happy day with their parents at Luna Park.
The children have slept in the park all night. The Dewfairy, dressed in Gretel’s favourite flannel flowers welcomes the dawn through the misty morning telling the children to wake up. Gretel is first up but cannot tell if she’s awake or dreaming. When she wakes Hansel they both realise they have had the same dream. As the mists clear an amazing sight is revealed. The dazzling smile of Luna Park with fairy floss and lollies ouside appears through the clearing mist. The children are very hungry and try the sweets. They hear a strange voice but decide it’s the wind. Suddenly a dishevelled old bag lady called Rosina Daintymouth appears. She has been quite glamorous once and pretends to be nice. When she grabs Hansel the children realise she is a Witch but it is too late. She puts a spell on them and sings about how she’s going to eat them once she has fattened Hansel up. Gretel cleverly works out how to reverse the spell and the children throw the witch into her own oven. At this moment all the other children she has cooked come back to life and thank Hansel and Gretel. Peter and Gertie finally find them and they all live happily ever after.