Opera is not for highbrow audiences according to artistic director with the Vancouver Island Opera, Tatiana Vasilieva.
“That idea that opera is only for a few people—it’s not,” she said. And that’s why I chose this opera.”
The opera she’s referring to is Hansel and Gretel, a production that involves both children and adults from this community and beyond and appeals to all ages.
This fairy tale opera tells the classic Grimm Brother’s tale in a fun and humorous way. The opera, composed by 19th century composer Engelbert Humperdinck, involves interesting music that is challenging to perform, said Vasilieva, but the talented cast hailing from this area and Vancouver have spent countless hours perfecting their roles. The children’s chorus was compiled by Dolphin Bay Music, with vocal coach Sherilene Chycosky.
Hansel and Gretel will be performed at the Knox United Church in Parksville Saturday, October 5 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, October 6 at 2:30 p.m.
Vasilieva said it took a community effort to make this opera possible, from the scenery materials which were donated by Windsor Plywood, to the expert building of Jim Branston and the painting work led by Micheline Messner and completed by other talented artists at the McMillan Arts Centre in Parksville. That centre also allowed the space for painting, which took many months to complete.
The story of Hansel and Gretel was adapted by a number of opera companies. Vasilieva, who performed as Gretel in the show herself in many cities including Toronto and Vancouver, chose the opera that makes the most sense to her. That’s why the step-mother in the story, who sends her children out to the woods and treats them so poorly, is also the witch.
“A real mother I feel would not do something like that,” she said. “For that purpose I chose the version where metaphorically the mother and the witch is the same woman.”
Following the show this weekend the cast will take it to seniors homes around this community and Nanaimo.
Vasilieva said she hopes to see a great turnout at the show at Knox this weekend.
“I very much hope that the community will appreciate the effort it took to mount this opera and to support us by coming to attend and enjoy the production.”
Tickets are $20 in advance from Cranky Dog Music in Parksville and Chocolates Plus in Qualicum Beach. Tickets will be $22 at the door. Children 12 and under are $10. For more information on the show call Tatiana at 250-586-6095 or visit www.vancouverislandopera.com.