Hansel and Gretel, another BPOC operatic foray Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin

               Engelbert Humperdinck,  born May 1936.  Real name – Arnold Dorsey.
Engelbert Humperdinck,  born Sept. 1854.  Real name – Engelbert Humperdinck!

Why the above; because this year’s Buchanan Park Public School’s Opera club certainly includes nineteenth as well as 21st century compositions. The original singspiel has been supplemented with 60’s & 70’s pop hits. I’ve been an opera fan, & traditionalist, for seven decades, thus somewhat biased. Thus, we’ve decided to include opinions from some erudite 11-year olds!

Humperdinck's operatic siblings, portrayed by real siblings Deanna & Dylan Wardell

Humperdinck’s operatic siblings, portrayed by real siblings Deanna & Dylan Wardell

BPPS graciously invites some other local Public Schools to its 19-year run of opera staging. Their guests enjoy the outing but in many cases, have the precocious maturity and standards to be critical. This year’s consensus on Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel: -from “awesome” to “a musical; not an opera!” Some of the kids were impressed by the added contemporary music, while others (37%) said they were anticipating the conventional Opera Hamilton format. One young critic felt that artistic director Dawn Martens added to many “superfluous embellishments”[note – actual quotation] but appreciated the “intricacies of the individual costumes”.
There were observations about the lip-synching- negative; and the four-part harmonies of the ‘Chordettes’ & witch-trio – Positive. There was unanimity about Gretel (Deanna Wardell)’s voice and enunciation as well as approval of Megan Johnson’s Red Riding Hood/narrator vocal phrasing and expressions. All agreed that soprano Virginia Hatfield’s rendering of ‘Someday my Prince will come’ was of O.H. standards; she was too tall for David Rule’s adorable Prince Charming!

Now, some mature (chronologically) observations. BPOC’s efforts include the entire school body; the parents, and the local community. The benefits of early exposure to culture as well as the three ‘R’s can’t be emphasized enough. These young people will grow up; become wealthy and thus will be in a position to financially support the endemic financial deficiency of the arts. There is also the undeniable benefit of working cohesively towards a common end. This manifests itself in personal focus and dedication…social values that enhance ones character.
We see over 200 events each year. Occasionally, we observe a young talent that possesses that rare quality of poise, projection and facial mobility that stand out. In some instances, our noticing & writing about these qualities has resulted in some well-known thespian careers. Deanna Wardell shows potential, but both Megan Johnson and ‘Chordette’ Erin Hamilton should certainly consider furthering an artistic vocation. Sheridan College – take note! BTW, Nancy Osborne, a real  CHORDETTE, is a dear personal friend; but she too, is a little tall for Dawn to have included in the quartet!

Hansel and Gretel are at Buchanan Park P.S. today at 7pm; Tomorrow (May 11th) at 1:30 & 7pm.

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