Indiana Daily Student

Jacobs School of Music to premiere ‘Hansel and Gretel’ Nov. 11

<p>Antoinette Pompe van Meerdevoort who plays Hansel, and Kayla Kramer who plays Gretel, perform in the Jacobs School of Music Opera and Ballet Theater&#x27;s production of &quot;Hansel and Gretel&quot; on Nov. 8, 2022, in the Musical Arts Center. The music school will present this opera with two different casts Nov. 11-12 and 17-18.</p>

Antoinette Pompe van Meerdevoort who plays Hansel, and Kayla Kramer who plays Gretel, perform in the Jacobs School of Music Opera and Ballet Theater's production of "Hansel and Gretel" on Nov. 8, 2022, in the Musical Arts Center. The music school will present this opera with two different casts Nov. 11-12 and 17-18.

As soon as the curtain rises on the Musical Arts Center stage and performers dressed as woodland animals prance through the audience, it is clear director Candace Evans has created something magical. 

Jacobs School of Music will present the “Hansel and Gretel” opera with two different casts at 7:30 p.m. from Nov. 11-12 and 17-18 at the Musical Arts Center. 

“Hansel and Gretel” is a retelling of the classic German fairytale, following the titular siblings as they enter dark woods to look for food to feed their poor family. However, everything quickly goes awry when they get lost and cross paths with an evil witch in a deliciously sinister house.  

IU senior Antoinette Pompe Van Meerdevoort plays Hansel in one cast and sees the show as a simplistically human piece that everyone could find a connection with. 

“This is just us all telling human stories,” Van Meerdevoort said. “We’re all human and ‘Hansel and Gretel’ is the perfect example of this because it was a storybook before it was an opera, so it’s connected more to everyone.” 

It was this human element that Van Meerdevoort felt was best encapsulated in the prayer scene at the end of Act 2 when Hansel and Gretel are lost and frightened in the woods. The darkness of the scene is cut with a long white staircase extending into the black night — creating a sense of hope and peace. 

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“The prayer is a really wonderful moment in the piece because it’s so still,” Van Meerdevoort said. “The sandman comes and has them fall asleep but it’s just this moment of ‘We’re going to be okay; we’re going to say a prayer, and everything will be fine.’ The music just overwhelms you with a sense of comfort and a wonderful, warm, beautiful sense of togetherness and community.” 

IU graduate student Anna Donnelly plays Gretel in one cast. She found a challenge in discovering the nature of her character without relying too heavily on the audience’s preconceived knowledge of Gretel based on the well-known story. 

“Working with the cast and the other Hansel and figuring out the ins and outs of that relationship specifically has helped kind of define what Gretel thinks and feels,” Donnelly said. “And working with Candace Evans as well has helped define that a lot.” 

As a fan of the opera before she was cast, Donnelly was excited to bring her take on the character to life with the help of Evans and the rest of the cast. Once it came together onstage, she noticed nuances that created a whole new experience. 

“It’s hard to pick one thing that drew me in,” Donnelly said. “I think along the way it’s been these little, tiny moments that maybe the audience wouldn’t even notice but it’s something that defines the character for me or makes the character special to me — those tiny little seconds.” 

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IU graduate student Colin Anderson plays Peter — or the Father — in one cast. Anderson used his personal love of storytelling to better embody the role of Hansel and Gretel’s father, who he saw as a classic storytelling parental figure. 

“Being able to bring across stories as big epics in narratives was something I put into the Father,” Anderson said. “He loves stories as well and it goes back to that idea of folktales and those classic fairytales.” 

Through the beauty of the staging and score, Anderson felt the show would bring people together through not only the magic of the performances but also the magic of live theater. 

“I think the great thing about opera is the community feeling,” Anderson said. “Being in a community of other people who are witnessing the same thing you are is the most interesting thing. When everything lines up, there’s a feeling that you’re able to get that you can’t anywhere else.” 

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