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Happy Holidaze!

Kimberly Feltkamp (Hansel) & Brooke Schooley (Gretel) lament being lost in the woods in the DVO holiday opera at Bethel Woods


December 15, 2011

I’m often scatterbrained and frequently perplexed—but this week, I found myself even more dazed and confused than usual. The dizzying array of holiday events, parties and fundraisers has me in a tizzy and I momentarily lost my way. Naturally, I’m looking to place blame, rather than own up to a lack of focus, so I’ll chalk it up to attending the Delaware Valley Opera’s (DVO, www.delawarevalleyopera.org) magical and enchanting production of Engelbert Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel.” After all, those crazy kids are well known for getting into trouble and losing their way in the woods.

To begin with, I had difficulty deciding where to catch the opera, as it was being performed in a variety of locations. I decided to go with the event gallery at Bethel Woods (www.bethelwoodscenter.org), mostly because I know how to get there. Several of the roles were double-cast, which is great for the performers, but caused a conundrum for me. I wanted to see (and hear) both, but (due to my own double booking) was forced to choose.

Kimberly Feltkamp, Brooke Schooley, Emilie Storrs, Carol Difenbach and Wayne Line vividly brought the Grimm Brothers story to life for a packed (gingerbread) house, and word on the street is that the singers I missed out on—Anna Petrie, Erin Watt and Marka Knight—were delicious as well. I discovered that many of the kids in the audience had arrived early and participated in creating gigantic gingerbread men, which were then incorporated into the set design, surrounding the witch’s enticing, edible abode.

With no clue as to why this particular opera has become a holiday staple, I visited the DVO website and read, “The idea for ‘Hansel and Gretel’ was proposed to Humperdinck by his sister, who approached him about writing music for songs that she had written for her children for Christmas, based on the popular fairy tale... since its earliest performances [the opera] has been associated with Christmas.” Hmmm. I literally learn something new almost every day!

Having perused the schedule for the DVO 2012 season, I’m excited to find that the theme is “Shakespeare Sings,” and looking forward to catching each and every “informance” that the company has waiting in the wings.