Stand by for a fantastical, “Gothically gorgeous” version of a classic fairy tale when Peninsula Productions present Vancouver Opera’s version of Engelberg Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, Oct. 15, 11 a.m. at White Rock’s First United Church.
It’s a fast-paced, family-friendly, 45-minute-long adaptation of the opera, performed in English by a small but energetic company of four singers and piano accompanist, and specially tailored to appeal to young audiences (kindergarten to Grade 7).
And one of the highlights of this touring production – in addition to a full complement of dramatic costumes and props – is costume and production designer Drew Facey’s self-contained Edwardian/steampunk-ish set, guaranteed to charm fans of Lemony Snickett and cult writer-illustrator Edward Gorey.
Young people today appreciate a darker aesthetic, explained stage director and librettist Arniel Gladstone, who was responsible for VOA’s 2010 mainstage production of Lucia di Lammermoor.
“Drew and I wanted to create something modern, but with references to a sort of Gothic or Edwardian period that may have only existed in our imaginations,” he said. “This seems to be a perfect match for the Hansel and Gretel story of a struggling family living on the edge of a dark wood, inhabited by a witch or ogre creature who baits children with a candy house.”
Music director and co-ordinator for the show – described as ‘full of lively tunes, fast-paced fun, comical characters and a few surprises’ – is Kinza Tyrell. The production, created for VOA’s Opera In Schools program, designed to expose young audiences to the beauty, relevance and fun of opera is another local coup for Peninsula Productions, which brought in the well-received Ensemble Galilei concert this April.
Tickets ($15), are available from the Surrey Arts Centre box office, 604-501-5566, Tapestry Music, or the church (15385 Semiahmoo Ave.).