The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 24, 2013

'Hansel and Gretel' opera on stage on MSU

By Tanner Kent
The Free Press

MANKATO — Behind the scenes, there’s much to celebrate about Sunday’s performance of the opera “Hansel and Gretel” at Minnesota State University.

The student-led performance marks the kickoff of a statewide tour of high schools. It also represents the fruit of a continued partnership with the Mankato Symphony Orchestra, which hosted the same five MSU singers for a performance of the opera durings its Candy Cane concert in December.

More than anything, however, the performance will showcase a group of singers that Kimm Julian praised as being tailor-made for the roles.

The cast includes: Brianna Lundin as Hansel, Kristen Lucas as Gretel, Melissa Williams as the witch, Brittany Helgren as mother, and Andrew Kurkowski as father.

“I had the right people,” said Julian, music instructor and director of opera at MSU. “They just jumped out at me as the right cast.”

But the opera itself isn’t without a darker side. The old fairy tale is has been told, re-told, revised and re-revised countless times since its first publication by in 1812 by the Brothers Grimm.

In MSU’s version, the children are sent into the forest by their abusive stepmother. The ensuing scenes involving the evil witch are portrayed in a dream-like sequence.

Julian said the performance concludes with a public service announcement about abusive relationships and where to find advice and resources.

“It’s a little edgy,” Julian said. “It’s not a children’s show.”

Following Sunday’s performance, the cast will perform for area high schools as well as a handful of Twin Cities high schools.