The Fairytale opera, “Hansel and Gretel,” is taking place this weekend at Texas Tech University. The director of the opera, Dr. Gregory Brookes, gives The Front Row a tour of the set and some more information on the production.
How did you decide for the opera this semester, that you wanted to do “Hansel and Gretel”?
“Hansel and Gretel” is a wonderful fairytale that so many people are familiar with and the composer has written a beautiful score that provides a lot of roles for our students to participate in. It also is one of the German operas that is singable by a cast that is both graduate level and undergraduate level. We allow all of our students at Texas Tech to audition for the operas and so this is one of the German operas.
Many of the German operas are a little too advanced for a college-level production. And so, “Hansel and Gretel” is one of those operas that really works well for us, and it gives our singers an opportunity to sing in German so that’s a big consideration for what we do.
For folks who don’t know, after you’ve decided on the opera, what process follows to cast it and begin rehearsals and produce it?
The students audition for the voice faculty, sometime in May every year. At that time we will set the cast list for our fall production and our spring production. So the students know roughly eight or nine months ahead of time that they’re going to be cast in the opera. So that gives them the opportunity to learn the opera on their own. They’re expected to start listening to recordings of the opera, start learning it on their own—maybe take vocal issues that they might have with some of the parts to their voice teacher to work on those.
Then, because this is a foreign language opera, the coaching with the opera coach started quite early, they started sometime in October. The students have been going on a weekly basis to sing through their role…
By the time we get to January that’s when we start with the staging rehearsals. Those are often, three or four nights a week…It takes us roughly two months to get the opera on its feet. At this stage, we’re now in Allen Theatre and it’s time for us to let the singers try the set and be in costume. This is kind of the final stage where we’re putting everything together.
Listen to the full interview at the top of the article.