DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of KXSU.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have just entered into a new era. One filled with uncertainty, distress, regression, lots of guns, and a big ol’ wall. A little over half of our country decided to choose someone unexpected to hold the highest office you possibly can in America. These are strange times. However, to cope with our screaming misgivings, we must find a way to distract ourselves.
A perfectly suitable distraction is the opera.
On October 29, I took a trip to the Seattle Center’s beautiful McCaw Hall to see the Seattle Opera perform their production of Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. As previously stated, I am nowhere near a connoisseur of the opera, or anything theater for that matter. However, I wanted to take this as an opportunity to expand my cultural palette. So, I put on my nice sweater and my roommate’s nice shoes (because I do not own nice shoes), went over to the opera house, and felt classier than I have all year.
At the beginning of the show, the lights went down as they usually do, and the orchestra started to play an absolutely beautiful overture. The arrangements magnificently have the different strings and winds weave in and out of each other.
The singers are also astonishing in that they have the ability to fill an entire performance hall as huge as McCaw without using a microphone. Their vocals are triumphant, enormous, and… well… OPERATIC.
The plot of the show was interesting since it covered all of the basics from the Brothers Grimm folktale Hansel and Gretel, yet it also put a slightly contemporary touch to it. The actors all wore modern clothing, and the set depicted scenes from our everyday life. The way they designed what went on the stage was mind-blowing. There were three main scenes depicted: Hansel and Gretel’s house, the woods, and the witch’s house. Hansel and Gretel lived in a gigantic and rotting cardboard box, meant to reveal their family’s income status. The box was tearing and breaking at every corner.
The woods got trippy. At one point, Hansel and Gretel went to sleep and dreamt about all of the food they’d like to eat. To show the dream, the stage crew dropped ten flat screen TVs down on wires, with clips of food on them. And then, a close up on a woman’s mouth eating all of the food. It was a strange experience to simultaneously listen to gorgeous orchestral music and watch ten of the same lady’s mouth eating spaghetti. Strange, but good. Very good.
Perhaps the most intricate piece of set design was the witch’s house. Recall from the folktale that the witch tried to lure the kids to her house with food, in order to put them in her oven and eat them. Here, the witch’s house was made out of food, particularly cakes and sweets, and all of this was stacked up like a grocery store aisle. I took this as a slight commentary on modern consumerism, and reliance on the corporate sector for our food and survival. The witch was dressed up like you’d expect the manager of a Safeway to dress.
The plot was resolved satisfactorily, the grand finale was exuberant, and the music was beautiful all the way through. My conclusion is that I am a fan of the opera. Seattle Opera does such a spectacular job of refining the talents of their performers. I’m excited to see what’s next on their list of productions.
JASON MCCUE | Phantom of the Pasta | KXSU Promotions Director