ENGELBERT Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel is effectively indestructible, assuming common sense is applied.
No problems there for Bill Bankes-Jones’s new production (and new English translation) for Scottish Opera, which opened in Glasgow on Saturday before moving to Edinburgh next week.
For it tells the story simply and without pretension and everywhere you look, the characters are true to story-book stereotypes.
Now and again, though, there’s a shortage of momentum, as if Bankes-Jones believes that the prolonged musical tracts are enough to carry the interest.
Such hiatuses seem all the more out of place in contrast to the lively performances of the cast. Kai Rüütel and Ailish Tynan portray Hansel and Gretel with a convincingly innocent childish zest, Tynan’s spellbound Gretel, forced to dance in the clutches of Leah-Marian Jones’s cackling music hall Witch, being her quirkiest moment.
Paul Carey Jones plays the father with all the carefree thrill and abandon needed to lift the spirits of his weary wife, warmly portrayed by Shuna Scott Sendall.
Given how little it plays together these days, the Scottish Opera Orchestra sounds rusty, though that doesn’t prevent French conductor Emmanuel Joël-Hornak from extracting gorgeous moments from an exquisite score.