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October 24, 2008

ULM Opera to present “Hansel and Gretel” Oct. 30 - Nov. 2

ULM Opera fans should get their tickets now – “Hansel and Gretel” will appear in Brown Auditorium for showings Oct. 30–31, beginning at 7:30 p.m., and Nov. 1-2, at 2 p.m.

The ULM Opera will present the classic "Hansel and Gretel," by Englebert Humperdinck, free of charge to ULM students, faculty and staff with I.D. All children ages 12 and under who are accompanied by an adult are admitted free. General admission otherwise is $10; it is $5 for any off-campus students. Contact (318) 342-1414 for tickets.

As a special Halloween event after the performance Friday, Oct. 31, children in the audience will be invited onstage to see the gingerbread house close-up, as well as meet the performers.

The popular Halloween theme story will be enhanced by stage sets designed by Gregory Bruce and built by master carpenter Ronnie Bruce; costumes are by Geneva Calloway.

Also featured are the ULM Children's Chorus, conducted by Donna Dugas; members of the Twin City Ballet, choreographed by ULM faculty member Gretchen Jones; and a small orchestral ensemble conducted by ULM Choral Director Deborah Chandler. This joint effort, presented by the combined departments of Music, Theatre and Dance in the School of Visual and Performing Arts, is directed and produced by Division Head Mark Ross Clark.

The all-student cast includes Bianca Jones singing the role of Gretel, and Elizabeth Boston as Hansel. The roles of the Father and Mother are played by Doug Bennett and Jennifer Free, while Tony Stewart is the Witch. The Dew Fairy is Erica Durr, Leah DeWitt is the Sandman, and the Erste Fraulein is sung by Christina Sherman.

“Hansel and Gretel” story synopsis:
In Act I, Hansel and Gretel are alone in their small, sparse cottage home while their parents are far away in the village working.

The family makes brooms. The father and mother are out selling their wares, trying to earn a living for the family. They are poor, with very little to eat. Although Hansel is trying to make a broom and Gretel is supposed to darn socks, the children grow bored with the tedious work and look for diversions. Their dancing is interrupted by an irritated mother, who is tired, hungry, and angry with the children for ignoring their chores. Even worse, the only food in the house – a can of fresh milk – is spilled on the floor as the children are admonished.

After the children are chased out of the house, and the mother falls asleep leaning on the kitchen table, her nap is interrupted by the father, home from selling his brooms. To the mother's complete surprise, he has food and drink that he displays. His celebration is cut short when he realizes the children have run into the woods, possibly lost and alone. The mother well knows that they have run far into the woods, and feels badly at the result of her rage.

In Act I, scene II, Hansel and Gretel are picking strawberries in the woods. They are happy to eat their fill, and communicate with the animals of the woods, including the insistent sound of the cuckoo. It is not long before it is growing darker, and they realize that they are lost. Their fears are lessened with the surprise entrance of the Sandman, who allows them to sleep in the woods protected by a "sleeping potion." After the famous prayer-duet sung by the two youngsters, they fall into a restful slumber as angels surround them in a protective circle and the curtain falls.

In Act II, scene I, still in the woods, the children are awakened by the Dew Fairy. They are surprised by a vision that leads them to a meeting with "little miss dainty mouth," who wants to fatten them up so that they will be "plump morsels." After the surprise ending, we are introduced to the gingerbread children, who are finally freed from the witch’s spell. Hansel and Gretel are reunited with their parents, and all is well.

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