Hansel and Gretel: Scottish Opera, Edinburgh Playhouse 14 February
(What's that you say? A tardy review? Ha! Wait until I get round to finishing off the ones from last year's festival...)
It used to be said that the definition of a cultural highbrow was someone who could hear the William Tell overture without thinking of The Lone Ranger. Well, surely another definition would be someone who on hearing the name Engelbert Humperdinck thinks of Hansel and Gretel rather than The Last Waltz.
I saw the Humperdinck opera for the first time a few weeks ago when Scottish Opera brought their new production to Edinburgh, and I have to say I was impressed both by the opera and the production. I already knew the "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep" duet, but that was all. The whole thing though is undemanding fun and deserves to be better known. The production was by Bill Bankes-Jones, who also created the new English translation. The sets and costumes were simple but very effective, the singers all excellent. One review did suggest that the kids - Kai Rüütel and Ailish Tynan - would have been better off ditching their boring mother (only boring as played by Shuna Scott Sendall because she doesn't get much to sing) and switching allegiance to Leah Marian-Jones's far more vivacious witch. I kind of saw the point: the witch is a marvellous character, even if she isn't onstage for long before being baked.
The production looked fantastic, especially the big set piece of the children falling asleep in the forest and being visited by fourteen angels.
All in all, a good evening out.