Engelbert Humperdinck’s (1854- 1921) fairy tale opera Haensel and Gretel, performed by the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance in collaboration with the Jerusalem Opera, was an excellent choice for presentation by mostly academy students, whose capabilities are well within the requirements of this unpretentious children’s opera.
All the singers were effortlessly faithful to their roles, and performed with visible and audible joy of singing and acting, even though some sopranos have still to learn how to sing loud high notes without becoming shrill and strained.
Haensel and Gretel, though performed competently, sounded and looked rather too mature for these children’s roles. The witch was definitely charming – not quite what one expects of a witch. Moreover, there was room for improvement in some singers’ German pronunciation, which was not always understandable.
Ari Teperberg’s stage direction was tastefully humorous and resourceful, proceeding in fast motion, and skilfully avoiding the pitfalls of potentially frightening situations.
The Ashdod Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Omer Arieli, expertly provided the instrumental support.
This performance could well serve as a model for a successful presentation of unpretentious but artistically high-voltage opera.