Hansel and Gretel opera meets 21st century


The Texas State University Theater Center.

Photo by Chelsea Yohn | Staff Photographer

Diana Furman

A traditional fairytale that has been around for hundreds of years is undergoing a modern twist by Texas State theater students.

The Texas State Opera Theatre is going to present a contemporary adaptation of “Hansel and Gretel” March 22-25 at the Texas State University Performing Arts Center.

The production is an English adaptation of the original German opera. It takes place in a 21st century apartment with modern renditions of characters.

Director Josh Miller said he has always envisioned the show set in this day and age and has always hoped to direct the show in this style.

Miller said in 17th century operas some of the roles were played by females dressed as males due to the demands of the style of singing. “Hansel and Gretel” bites back at that pratice, introducing males dressed as female characters instead.

“We have the witch played by a male and it’s very RuPaul-esque,” Miller said. “It’s definitely intended to shock a bit.”

Trinidad Agosto, vocal performance graduate student, plays the witch in drag and said he looks forward to surprising the audience with his unusual performance as a woman.

“I know people are going to see me, a grown man in heels, and think, ‘well, that guy’s having fun,’” Agosto said. “And I definitely will be.”

Mackenzie Bitz, vocal performance senior, plays Gretel in the show and said fairytales often have a moral that is obvious throughout the story.

“This (opera) is pretty dark and twisted, and you really have to dissect it to come out with a moral,” Bitz said.

“Hansel and Gretel” has brought back Bitz’s love for opera, and this is the first time she has been able to experiment with a role.

“I get to play a little girl, and it’s such an escape as a college student to just let go and jump around and dance and just sing my heart out,” Bitz said.

Miller said the opera is a different style and set in different time period than those recently performed at Texas State. The “Hansel and Gretel” opera was written in the 19th century, unlike other operas Texas State has performed in the recent past.

The opera is set to have an 80-piece orchestra and the actors are expected to sing over the instruments without any assistance from mics. Bitz said opera tends to be very extravagant and immersive, with complex story lines and is an under-appreciated, advanced form of art.

“Opera has been around since the 1600s, and I’m pretty sure if they had an IMAX theater back then, that’s where they would be,” Agosto said. “It’s entertainment. It just comes down to that.”

Texas State Opera Theatre creates a fun, familiar setting for a traditional fairy-tale. Tickets are available on Texas State Presents and run at $15 for adults and $8 for Texas State students.

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