A bit of musing by chorus member Aldwin Lee
Fresh off the high of our collaborative concert with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra and the recent Malaysian Men’s Choral Festival, the 1st of its kind, we were immediately thrust back to work at KLCO, this time in preparation for the rest of the 2018 season, which includes the kiddie-friendly opera Hansel and Gretel, some Rossini festival, and Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. Today, however, I’m just going to rant a bit about Hansel and Gretel, which will bring us back to KLPAC once again on the 5th, 7th and 8th July.
Hansel and Gretel will prove to be an interesting production for us, as for once, it is a mainly-female cast, which includes the chorus. Guess they’re finally giving the men a sort-of-a-break. Populating the cast is a lot of familiar faces. In fact, they are all familiar faces. While I will enjoy working once more with the likes of Chaing Yi Ling and Ho Chi Mei as the titular siblings, Bui Yik Ling (the Sleep Fairy), Cynthia Tan (the Mother), Sandy Cheng (the Dew Fairy) and Samuel Lim (the Father), the most interesting of the lot to look forward to is jazz songbird Janet Lee, whom I’ve had the pleasure of listening to and photographing many of her shows. When her role as the gingerbread witch was revealed, it came as no surprise for I knew she had the perfect character (and cackling laughter) to pull it off.
Leading us musically is our favourite Colombian conductor. Yet again, he has come to grace us with his Juan-derful sense of timing and laid-back spirit. No doubt he would be reminding us again to keep eyes on him as we frolic on the stage. Speaking of the stage, Chris Ling, our director is yet another old face (don’t tell him I said that) whose gentle-yet-stern, purposeful and clear guidance will serve us useful in portraying our on-stage personae.
There is a thought that often disturbed me a bit. How is the opera meant to be kid-friendly when the main premise is of an evil witch plotting to fatten up children before eating them, as well as her penultimate death being shoved into an oven and roasted alive, while the heroes dance in celebration as this happens? Guess its part and parcel of a fairy-tale. But then again, considering what Engelbert Humperdinck (not to be confused with the pop singer who take up the same name a century later) had to work with regarding the source material which is oftentimes violent, depressing and Grimm (forgive me), I’ll give him a pass. The fact that the opera is normally performed in English even though Humperdinck was German is also greatly welcomed.
Tickets to the production will range from RM108 to RM148 on the 5th July, while the 7th and 8th shows are RM128 to RM168. Interestingly though, for the first time in KLCO, we’re apparently introducing a Family Fun Day show on the afternoon of the 7th July, where the opera will be condensed into a shorter, concise and more easily digested format, sort of like a sampler or a fast-food version. This goes for RM88 and is aimed at families as a way to tease the main show and maybe get them to watch the full production, or maybe audiences who aren’t able to stomach sitting down the duration of a full-fledged opera. This shouldn’t be a problem with Hansel and Gretel as this work is considerably lighter-hearted than most other operas and is generally more accessible to the non-enthusiast of opera.
Fun for the whole family indeed. I’ll be looking forward to the production and watching adults and kids laugh and smile at our on-stage antics. For ticketing information, check out www.ticketpro.com.my or call 03-4047 9000.