This weekend, the Schwob School of Music's Opera Theatre program will present Hansel and Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck. The production marks the largest collaboration for the opera program in its more than 50 year history at Columbus State University (CSU). Originally founded when the university was still known as Columbus College, the opera program boasts an impressive lineup of alumni — several of whom have gone on to sing at The Met and/or enjoy performing careers across the globe.
Though Schwob Opera Theatre has collaborated with other organizations for past productions, Hansel and Gretel marks the first time a city-wide collaborative effort of this scale has come to fruition.
Dr. Joshua May, Opera Director for CSU's Schwob School of Music, said collaboration was of the highest priority when producing Hansel and Gretel. "When the faculty and I selected this opera together, we knew from the start we wanted it to be a massive collaboration with lots of ages involved. Thanks to the work of my incredible colleagues at more than a dozen local organizations, Hansel and Gretel offers a glimpse of everything Columbus has to offer in the arts, presented in a family-friendly way, for the entire community to enjoy."
The collaboration involves faculty and students from Schwob School of Music's Opera and Orchestral programs, CSU's Theatre & Dance Program, Muscogee County School District, Voices of the Valley Children's Chorus, the Youth Dance Conservatory at CSU, Rainey-McCullers School of the Arts, the Columbus Ballet, and with prop and select set piece rentals coming from Springer Opera House.
"Hansel and Gretel is a perfect opera for this type of collaborative effort," explained May. "The umbrella of opera holds tons of mediums: dance, fine art, music, theatre, scenery, costuming, and more. Our design team for this show boasts international guest artists brought in to produce scenery, costumes, and technical aspects of the show. These individuals have come to Columbus to work right alongside our local students to teach them how to do what they do to produce an incredible production."
The family-friendly opera will be performed at Rainey-McCullers School of the Arts. The show runs about 2 hours and 15 minutes, and will be performed in English utilizing an adaptation by Kathleen Kelly. To extend the community outreach of the production, various high school fine arts programs across the community have been invited to Thursday's final dress rehearsal. "This ensures every fine arts student in as many schools as possible has a chance to see the performance for free," said May. "Accessibility was another thing that was very important to our production team. It was a shared goal of all of us to integrate all people in the community, especially students, to show them the power of the arts with this production."
May continued to describe his colleagues with admiration and esteem. "I truly could not be working with a better group of professionals and students on this production," he said. "Special thanks to all of our donors and community advocates who have helped to make this possible, to Paul Hostetter who is conducting for us, Bridget Adams from Youth Dance Conservatory at CSU, Laura Johnson from The Columbus Ballet, Michelle Folta of Voices of the Valley Children's Chorus, Amy Mutarelli and Silvia Beltran from Columbus State University's Dance program, Matthew Ishee a lighting designer from from CSU's Theatre and Dance Dept., the student stage management and technical crew team from CSU's Theatre and Dance Dept. and Rainey-McCullers School of the Arts and to our wonderful Muscogee County School District leadership for being so wonderful to work with during the entire process."
Showtimes for Hansel and Gretel at Rainey-McCullers School of the Arts are: March 10 at 7:30PM, March 11 at 7:30PM and March 12 at 4PM. The theatre seats 600 and placement will be on a first come, first served seating. All tickets are general admission, and children are welcome to attend.
"This is a great first opera for children," said May. "Especially since there are so many young people in the show. Hansel and Gretel is a beloved children's fairytale and this opera really captures the magic of that in a big way. All of the people who have brought this together see this production as a collective, collaborative way we can work together to give back. This is a show I'm proud and thankful to say that has been curated for the community, from the community." ◼️
If You Go:
When: March 10 at 7:30PM, March 11 at 7:30PM and March 12 at 4PM.
Where: Rainey-McCullers School of the Arts
*This opera production is supported by the G. Gunby Jordan Endowment for Opera Activities and the John & Sally Walden Endowment for Opera at Columbus State University.