The Jacobs School of Music will present “Hansel and Gretel” on November 11

As soon as the curtain rises on the stage at the Musical Arts Center and performers dressed as woodland animals walk through the audience, it’s clear that director Candace Evans has created something magical.

The Jacobs School of Music will present the opera “Hansel and Gretel” with two different casts at 7:30 p.m. on November 11-12 and 17-18 at the Musical Arts Center.

“Hansel and Gretel” is a retelling of the classic German fairy tale, following the titular siblings as they enter the dark woods to search for food to feed their impoverished family. However, things quickly go awry when they get lost and cross paths with an evil witch in a delightfully sinister house.

IU senior Antoinette Pompe Van Meerdevoort plays Hansel in a cast and sees the show as a simplistic human piece that anyone could find a connection to.

“It’s just all of us telling human stories,” Van Meerdevoort said. “We’re all human and ‘Hansel and Gretel’ is the perfect example of that because it was a storybook before it was an opera, so it’s more related to everyone.”

It is this human element that, according to Van Meerdevoort, was best encapsulated in the prayer scene at the end of Act 2, when Hansel and Gretel are lost and scared in the woods. The darkness of the scene is cut by a long white staircase extending into the dark night, creating a sense of hope and peace.

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“Prayer is a really wonderful time in the room because it’s so quiet,” Van Meerdevoort said. “The Sandman comes in and puts them to sleep, but it’s just that moment of ‘We’re fine; we’ll say a prayer, and everything will be fine. The music simply overwhelms you with a sense of comfort and a wonderful, warm, beautiful sense of togetherness and community.

IU graduate student Anna Donnelly plays Gretel in a cast. She found a challenge in discovering the nature of her character without relying too heavily on the audience’s preconceived knowledge of Gretel based on the well-known story.

“Working with the cast and the other Hansel and understanding the ins and outs of that particular relationship kind of helped define what Gretel thinks and feels,” Donnelly said. “And working with Candace Evans also helped define that a lot.”

As a fan of the opera before she was cast, Donnelly was thrilled to bring her character to life with help from Evans and the rest of the cast. Once on stage, she noticed nuances that created a whole new experience.

“It’s hard to pick one thing that appealed to me,” Donnelly said. “I think along the way it’s those little, tiny moments that the audience might not even notice, but it’s something that defines the character for me or makes the character special to me – those tiny small seconds.”

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IU graduate student Colin Anderson plays Peter – or the father – in a cast. Anderson used his personal love of storytelling to better portray the role of Hansel and Gretel’s father, whom he saw as a classic storytelling parental figure.

“Being able to tell stories like great epics in storytelling was something that I put in Father,” Anderson said. “He also likes stories and it goes back to this idea of ​​folk tales and these classic fairy tales.”

Thanks to the beautiful direction and score, Anderson felt the show would bring people together not only through the magic of the performances, but also through the magic of the live theater.

“I think the great thing about opera is the sense of community,” Anderson said. “Being in a community of other people who are witnessing the same thing as you is the most interesting thing. When everything lines up, it feels like you’re able to achieve what you can’t anywhere else. .

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