"Hansel and Gretel" at Milligan College

‘Hansel and Gretel’ opera a dream come true for Milligan

“Hansel and Gretel” is a fairy tale come true for the Milligan College music department.

A year in the making, this delightful opera by Engelbert Humperdinck is the first full-length opera in decades to be produced and presented entirely by Milligan. Performances will be held at 7:30 p.m., March 1 and 2 in Milligan’s Mary B. Martin Auditorium, located in Seeger Memorial Chapel.

Tickets are $5 for adults; admission is free for children and students.

“We had talked about staging an opera for several years, and finally everything aligned with the calendar and we had a pool of interested and talented students,” said Dr. Kellie Brown, chair of Milligan’s music department.

The opera, which features the Milligan College Orchestra, will be conducted by Brown, with stage direction by Dr. Charlotte Anderson and vocal coaching by Noah DeLong.

With interest, talent and timing finally in place, the Milligan College Opera Workshop formed and began work on “Hansel and Gretel.” The production follows the adventure of the mischievous siblings and their encounter with the evil witch as they travel through the forest.

“In general, opera is sung throughout, but this version of ‘Hansel and Gretel’ will be a lot like a musical because of the large amount of spoken dialogue,” Anderson said. “And the fact that it is in English makes it more approachable to first-time opera-goers. The story is also a familiar one, which makes it even easier to follow and to be able to pay attention to the music and acting.”

The result is a family-friendly production that is fun for the student performers and accessible for all audiences — even children. In addition to the beautiful music, the fairy tale comes alive with the costuming and set, which includes a whimsical gingerbread house.

Many local students are featured in lead roles. Hansel is played by Caitlin Brock, a senior from Jonesborough. Laura Mixon, a freshman from Kingsport, portrays Gretel. The cast of 13 is joined by the Milligan Orchestra, which for this performance is reduced to 20 musicians to provide acoustical balance.

“The reward is that it comes together as a cohesive whole and everyone has learned a lot during the process,” Anderson said. “Music education majors learn the nuts and bolts of putting together a production like this for their teaching experience. Performance majors hone their skills as performers, and everyone is enriched by the experience.”

Tickets will be available at the door or in advance at the Milligan Bookstore, open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by calling (423) 461-8733.

To learn more about arts events at Milligan, visit www.milligan.edu/arts.

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