Amazingly, Rimsky Korsakov's opera is being professionally staged in the UK for the first time in 60 years (I have only heard it once, in the late 1980s when Chelsea Opera Group gave a concert performance). At Opera North, John Fulljames will be directing with Aoife Miskelly in the title role and Heather Lowe as Lel (a role that I heard being sung by a young Fiona Kimm). The opera is being sung in English,
credit Tatjana Dachsel
Completing the trio is Rossini's La Cenerentola (sung Italian), which is being directed by choreographer Aletta Collins, with Canadian mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta as Cinderella, and fast-rising South African tenor Sunnyboy Dladla is her prince, Don Ramiro.
The three productions will share the same basic elements of a highly adaptable set, designed by Giles Cadle, using video to blur fantasy and reality and bring the themes of transformation and magic to the forefront, with real-time live video capture in Hansel and Gretel, folk-influenced dreamscapes in The Snow Maiden, and a riot of colour and invention in La Cenerentola. The flexibility of video also means that there are extra Saturday matinees of La Cenerentola, as well as a series of special schools' matinees of Hansel and Gretel.