Hänsel, Gretel and witch charm receptive audience

The cast of "Hänsel and Gretel," from left, Daniel Grambow, April Martin, Alicia Bousner, Huiyu Zhang, Jane Mueller, John Simmons and David Bamberger. (Photo by Louise Seeholzer)

On February 7, 119 years after Richard Strauss conducted the original production of Englebert Humperdinck’s "Hänsel and Gretel," a preview presentation of an upcoming production delighted the audience at an FYI: Opera program at Westlake Porter Public Library. 

The music, story and history of this fairytale opera were skillfully related by David Bamberger, director of opera theater at the Cleveland Institute of Music and three CIM voice students, who were expertly accompanied on the piano by John Simmons, CIM music director. 

April Martin as Gretel and Huiyu Zhang as Hänsel opened with a duet of the children’s complaints of hunger as well as playful antics of a brother and sister. Baritone Daniel Grambow sang the part of Peter, the children’s father who is a broom maker. The gingerbread witch was sung by mezzo-soprano Alicia Bousner. The outstanding quality of these voices was enhanced by the expressive, animated acting of these singers. 

For 21 years, FYI: Opera programs have been offered free to the public through the efforts of the Westlake-Westshore Arts Council. From the very beginning, WWAC member Jane Mueller has been the force behind these programs. And Bamberger, who with his wife founded Cleveland Opera, has been a presenter since FYI’s first year.

The FYI program previewed CIM’s Feb. 29 through March 3 full production of "Hänsel and Gretel." Information and tickets for CIM’s production are available at cim.edu/hanselgretel or by calling 216-791-5000, ext. 411. 

Louise Seeholzer

Publicist for Westlake-Westshore Arts Council

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Volume 4, Issue 4, Posted 2:43 PM, 02.21.2012