A Singer's Notes by Keith Kibler

A Singer’s Notes 20: Hubbard Hall Opera Theater’s upcoming “Hansel and Gretel” – an Interview with Cast Members

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Hansel and Gretel by Alexander Zick (1845 - 1907).
Hansel and Gretel by Alexander Zick (1845 - 1907).

Kara Cornell – Hansel

Question: how is portraying this role different from Carmen?

“I have to say that portraying Hansel has been much easier for me than playing Carmen last season. One of my first roles at age 19 was Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, which is also a boy role written for mezzo-soprano. Being the easy-going tom-boy that I am, “pants roles” come quite naturally to me. Alix knows this, which is why she asked me to play the part – the first time I didn’t have to audition for the company. Carmen forced me to embrace my inner gypsy, which does exist, but is not a huge part of my personality. My personality definitely is that of a lower voiced opera singer – earthy and matter of fact.”

Alix Jones – Gretel

Question: how is this production different than 2008’s Così fan tutte and 2009’s Tragedy of Carmen?

“Well, I feel like it’s much less of an ensemble piece. That’s made the rehearsal process easier in some ways because rehearsals only need 2 or 3 singers at a time, like Hansel and Gretel or the Mother and Father. This also makes the rehearsal process harder because each individual is more responsible for their own parts, meaning that each singer must be responsible to hold their own on stage. We also have expanded our select conservatory program for college students. They understudy the roles on the mainstage and are performing their own abridged version of the opera with piano.”

Dianna Heldman – director

Question: what intrigues you about doing Hansel and Gretel in this venue?

“I love the fact that Hansel and Gretel was written about the same time that Hubbard Hall was built. My concept is that this piece could be set anywhere in the world. It’s about 2 children who encounter evil and how their cleverness and resourcefulness help them triumph over evil. This is an everyman story that could have easily taken place in Cambridge in the 1880’s.”

Julian Whitley – Father

Question: as the youngest of the mainstage artists, how does it feel to portray the character of the father – a role that is much older than yourself?

“The cool thing about working with a company like this is that I can sing roles that I couldn’t necessarily sing in larger houses right now. This gives me the experience necessary as I grow as both a singer and a performer. A lot of baritone roles take years to grow into – quite literally, and HHOT has given me the chance to get my proverbial feet wet.”

Hubbard Hall Opera Theater presents

Hansel and Gretel, by Engelbert Humperdinck

Come see this fully costumed and staged opera, sung in English with supertitles and a 28 piece orchestra!
Performance dates: August 13, 14, 19, 20 at 8pm, August 22nd at 2pm

Ticket prices:

$30 General Admission

$25 Hubbard Hall Members

$20 Students and children

August 12th: Pay-what-you-will Understudy Show, 8pm


Gretel: Alexina Jones

Hansel: Kara Cornell

Mother: Irina Petrik

Father: Julian Whitley

Witch: Victoria Tralongo

Stage Director: Dianna Heldman

Conductor: Michael Ricciardone

Building off of the rich tradition of arts in the Cambridge Valley, Hubbard Hall Opera Theater seeks to bring yet another element of culture to an already bustling center. The mission of HHOT is to provide classically trained singers and instrumentalists in New England and upstate New York greater opportunities to create something beautiful close to home, while also giving rural audiences the chance to enjoy an opera without having to spend the night in a city to do so.

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