(photo by Kathryn Nickford)Entering the enchanted forest
making opera magic with Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel
by Robin Eder-Warren
Robin Eder-Warren is an award-winning soprano and critically acclaimed stage director, as well as the managing director of Opera Mariposa, a Vancouver-based company for emerging artists. She made her operatic direction debut in 2013 with Pergolesi's La serva padrona, which was hailed as “a masterpiece of controlled mayhem” (Review Vancouver). She went on to direct Donizetti's Don Pasquale, which was praised as “well-honed,” “delightful,” and “an excellent harbinger of more well-cast and well-directed operas to come” (Opera Canada magazine). As an award-winning soprano, Robin has sung on stages around the world, from Germany to New York to Disneyworld, and has been described as “a talent beyond words” (Life in the ‘burbs). Select role highlights include Musetta (La bohème), Despina (Così fan tutte), Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi), Gretel (Hansel and Gretel), Laurey (Oklahoma!) and Cunegonde (Candide) among many others. As well as directing Hansel and Gretel for Opera Mariposa, she is currently performing as Meg in the Broadway musical Little Women with Fighting Chance Productions.
|Katrina Goh as The Dew Fairy (photo by Muchelle Doherty)|
I sat deflated in my living room for about five minutes. The beginning was fine, I knew – the charm of Hansel and Gretel playing and dancing and quarreling didn’t rely on grand sets – but once the siblings entered the magical forest, I couldn’t envision how to make the show work.
The witch was easy to see from that standpoint as well – as a being who pretends to be human, but is in fact anything but. Suddenly this show was a far more exotic fairy tale – still funny, still family-friendly, but beautiful and fey in a way I had never seen the opera done before. In this production, children would be mesmerized not just by the familiar story, the catchy melodies, or the candy, but by the simple 'wow' factor of what dwelt within the enchanted forest. I made the wig for the Dew Fairy myself, assembling it by hand over the course of three nights. When my first reaction upon showing it to someone was a gasp, I knew I had what I wanted.