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C of I Opera presents ‘Hansel and Gretel’

You know the story. Two young children, a hungry witch and a house made of confectionary sweets. But you’ve probably never seen Hansel and Gretel performed as on opera. 

Follow The College of Idaho into the woods as the music and theatre departments present Engelbert Humperdinck’s fairy tale opera at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 9-11 in the Langroise Recital Hall, with a closing 2 p.m. matinee on Feb. 12. Tickets cost $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and $5 for students, and can be reserved by calling (208) 459-5249.

“It’s fast-paced, there’s a lot of color on the stage, a lot of action, great singers and a great orchestra,” said director Jordan Bowman ’14. “It’s going to be a great time for all who come see it.”

While the Brothers Grimm originally wrote Hansel and Gretel with a flair for the disturbing, the C of I production will have a cheery, colorful, family-friendly feel. Well, except for the cannibalistic witch part. And while the story is originally German, all the singing is done in English.

Act I of the opera opens at the broom-maker’s house. Hansel and Gretel are doing chores. Both are bored and hungry, and to cheer themselves up, they start to dance. Their games are interrupted by their mother, who is angry to find them playing instead of working. In her anger, she knocks over the milk jug, losing what was to have been supper. She sends them into the forest to gather strawberries for their meal.

Alone, mother laments their precarious existence, but is soon interrupted by the return of her husband. Irritated to find him tipsy, her mood brightens when he produces a sack full of food. When he enquires after Hansel and Gretel, he is alarmed to hear they are in the forest: he warns of the Witch who lives there, and both parents set out to search for their children (synopsis courtesy of the Seattle Opera).

College of Idaho freshman Micaela Hulsey makes her opera debut as Gretel. Though she is no newcomer to singing, the challenge of playing Gretel was a notion that made her both nervous and excited.

“When I first went and saw it, I thought it was a mistake [that I was cast as Gretel],” she said. “I went back again and checked, and then called my mom.”

Under the direction of Bowman—a C of I alumna who performed in two operas during her time as a student—and senior stage manager Emily Peters, the production is in excellent hands. And as opening night approaches, the cast and crew can finally see the realization of an intense month full of rehearsals and practices.

“We’re just a big family up here, all of us,” said sophomore Hannah Sorenson, who plays Hansel. “We share our love of music with each other, and it’s really fun.”

The College of Idaho has a 125-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.  For more information, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.