Bringing 'Hansel and Gretel' to life

Karen D’Angelo will be playing the Dew Fairy

The phrase “Christmas classic” is an overfreighted term which tends to encompass last year’s Hollywood holiday movies and whatever modern pop queens churn out in recording studios. There are evergreens, though, and “Hansel and Gretel,” the three-act “folk music opera” presented this weekend by Buffalo Opera Unlimited at Buffalo State College’s Rockwell Hall, is among them.

The story, you likely know, at least parts of it. It involves German forests, two kids who sleep courtesy of the Sandman and awake courtesy of the Dew Fairy, a witch, guardian angels and lots of gingerbread. It’s a kid-friendly opera sung in English, written by composer Engelbert Humperdinck and first presented in 1893.

“It’s a children’s thing, and we’re reaching to the younger audience,” said Ellen Kennedy of Buffalo Opera Unlimited, whose most recent production was Darryl Glenn Nettles’ “The Fall of Stag Lee,” an opera involving a shooting in a barroom and definitely not for kids.

“Hansel and Gretel” will feature a 27-piece orchestra and soloists who include sopranos Amy Teal of Lewiston as Gretel and Lockport’s Karen D’Angelo as the Dew Fairy. Each is a member of Buffalo Opera Unlimited’s recurring cast of performers. 

A reading of the actual fairy tale, from the durable Grimm Brothers’ collection, will take place 30 minutes prior to each performance, and performances take place Friday evening and Sunday afternoon. Gingerbread cookies will be available to all patrons after the show. 

The opera will be presented at 8 p.m. Friday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the cavernous and modernist Rockwell Hall Performing Arts Center, 1300 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo. It’s that building which looks like Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, across the street of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery on the Buffalo State College Campus.  

Tickets are $30 each, $25 for seniors and $10 for children, and available at the box office, by calling 878-3005 and online at www.buffalostatepac.org

If your idea of Christmas involves more music and festivity, and fewer shopping malls, this may be just the thing to jump-start your holiday vibe. Leave room for gingerbread cookies. 

IF YOU GO

• WHAT: “Hansel and Gretel”

• WHERE: Rockwell Hall Performing Arts Center, 1300 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo

 WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday

• TICKETS: $30, $25 for seniors and $10 for children at 878-3005 and online at www.buffalostatepac.org