This year Hallowe’en isn’t just about ghosts, monsters, dressing up and
candy; it’s also about opera!

A week before the scariest night of the year Maritime Concert Opera brings
the beloved operatic version of the classic story of Hansel and Gretel to
the South Shore.

Engelbert Humperdinck’s evergreen musical setting of the story has been a
perennial favourite for children and adults alike since its first
performance in 1893.  (This was the first Engelbert Humperdinck, not the
English pop singer of the 1960s!)  It’s a tuneful, lush score, and a
familiar story about two children lost in the woods who encounter a Witch in
a gingerbread house, triumph over her, and are reunited safely with their
parents.  Although the opera was originally written in German, MCO is
performing it in English translation.  And, as always with MCO shows, the
performers will present the opera without set or costumes, but with superb
singing and lively acting from behind their music stands!

The strong cast for this production of Hansel and Gretel is headed by one of
Canada’s most distinguished and talented mezzo-sopranos, Marcia Swanston,
who is also a professor in the Department of Music at Dalhousie University.
Miss Swanston has sung with every major opera company and orchestra in
Canada, and this will be a rare opportunity to hear this world-class artist
close to home.  In this, her debut with MCO, Miss Swanston will sing the
demanding roles of both The Mother and The Witch

The rest of the cast features Andrew Tees, an alumnus of the Canadian Opera
Company’s Ensemble and a frequent performer with MCO, as  The Father; Signa
Love, originally from New Brunswick and a graduate of Acadia, will be
Hansel; and Mary-Claire Sanderson, another New Brunswicker and currently a
student at Dalhousie University, will sing Gretel.  Two of Lunenburg’s own
talented young singers, Claire Jaworski and Amy Smith, will perform the
roles of The Sandman and The Dew Fairy respectively.  Tara Scott, well-known
to MCO audiences for her superb accompaniments, will be musical director.

One of the highlights of the show will be an appearance by the MCO
children’s chorus as some of the Witch’s captives who are rescued by Hansel
and Gretel at the end of the opera.  These talented choristers, aged 6 to
14, come from all across Lunenburg County and have been working on their
parts for the last few weeks with the help of local accompanist Gus Webb and
conductor Nina Scott-Stoddart, founder and artistic director of the Maritime
Concert Opera.

Performances will be at the Astor Theatre in Liverpool on Wednesday, October
21st, at St. Andrew’s United Church, Coburg Road in Halifax on Friday,
October 23rd and at The Pearl Theatre in Lunenburg on October 24th.  All
performances start at 7.30 p.m.

Tickets $20, $2 for children 12 and under.  Special ticket price of $15 for Dal students for the Halifax performance:  don’t buy your tickets in advance, just come to the door and show your Dal ID to receive this discount.

Tickets for the Liverpool performance are available from the Astor Theatre –
354-5250.

Tickets for the Halifax performance are available from Bookmark,
5686 Spring Garden Road, Halifax.

Tickets for the Lunenburg performance are
on sale at Sagor’s in Bridgewater, at Kinburn Pharmasave in Mahone Bay and at
Fultons in Lunenburg – or call 634-4280 to reserve.

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