dfp_header_hidden_string

Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Hansel und Gretel review at Grange Park opera, West Horsley – ‘musically strong, with some puzzling staging’

Susan Bullock and Caitlin Hulcup in Hansel und Gretel at Grange Park Opera. Photo: Richard Hubert-Smith
by -

Immediately the ENO and Regent’s Park co-production of Humperdinck’s fairytale opera closes, Grange Park opens its own version.

There are a number of differences. ENO’s show is in English, Grange Park’s in German – though with a little work Wasfi Kani’s clever English surtitles could have been adapted to do the job.

And while at Regent’s Park Timothy Sheader offered a tenor witch, Grange Park gives you the female singer asked for in the score. In Stephen Medcalf’s production the redoubtable Wagnerian soprano Susan Bullock doubles as the Mother, too.

If this doesn’t quite work, it’s because there’s an uncertainty of tone that means that the witch is neither quite menacing nor funny enough. Left to her own devices, Bullock might have come up with something more successful: here she seems hemmed in by the concept.

Nor does the (certainly urban, and presumably London) ambience suggested in Yannis Thavoris’ sets for Acts II and III, with streetlamps standing in for forest trees, have the right resonance. The dream pantomime scene is visually dull.

Then the witch’s cake shop suddenly turns back into the children’s down-at-heel home. It’s both puzzling and ineffective.

Musically we’re on stronger ground, with Caitlin Hulcup’s Hansel and Soraya Mafi’s Gretel both lyrically and dramatically secure. Bullock is still able to flaunt her dramatic soprano tone, and William Dazeley is a lively Father.

Both Lizzie Holmes’ Dew Fairy and Eleanor Sanderson-Nash’s Sandman summon up vocal charm, while the full-scale ENO Orchestra under George Jackson makes the late-Romantic score sound marvellous – even if it’s a bit sluggish at times.

Hansel and Gretel review at Open Air Theatre, London – ‘an energetic, feel-good production’

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Verdict
Stephen Medcalf’s German-language production is musically strong, but includes some puzzlingly staged elements
^