Fairy tales came to life for students and locals on Sunday, as Binghamton University’s music department presented “Hansel & Gretel” — the opera. This staged adaptation of the classic fairy tale showcased the talents of both graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in the University’s opera singers workshop. In a short but sweet performance, “Hansel & Gretel” was prime holiday entertainment for people of all ages.
The Brothers Grimm tale follows the adventure of two siblings who, after being sent out to the woods by their angry mother, lose their way and fall into the clutches of a sinister witch. As their parents desperately look for them in the forest, Hansel and Gretel must outsmart the sorceress to avoid being baked into gingerbread men. Colorful and bright, the show delighted viewers both old and young. Clocking in at only 45 minutes, “Hansel & Gretel” enchanted its audience through incredible vocal feats.
Held in the Anderson Center’s Chamber Hall, the venue was small enough so that every seat had a close-up view. Because the audience was close to the stage, the crowd didn’t feel separate from the performers, but a part of the show. Vocals were backed by only two pianos, so you were able to appreciate each cast member’s abilities.
At one point, the entire focus was directed toward the back of the theater, as the Sandman slipped in through the audience before finally reaching the stage. The Sandman character was cloaked in a long white gown with purple embellishments. The witch had a black cloak and decorative hat. The rest of the cast embraced their characters through folksy peasant outfits, embodying a storybook fashion. In true fairy-tale fashion, all of the costumes were colorful and elaborate, adding to the enchantment of the show.
“Hansel & Gretel” was so much more than a performance — because of the collaboration between undergraduate and graduate students, it was an opportunity for students of all ages to learn from each other and perform with new talent.
“This is a really unique experience for both the master’s students and undergrads alike,” said Michael Celentano, who played the Witch in the 1 p.m. performance and is a second-year graduate student studying opera. “I’m a master’s student, and we all get to learn from each other.”
Students enrolled in Music Performance 466G: Stage Techniques for the Singing Actor were required to participate in the course as a part of their grade. Aside from the performances at 1 and 4 p.m., the cast previewed the opera and taught at related workshops to more than 700 students.
“The opera was delightful,” said Lauren Silberstein, a freshman double-majoring in marketing and music. “I loved being able to see my friends glow on stage. The reactions of joy and giggles from children in the audience was adorable! If you didn’t see it you missed out on a lovely production.”