University offers local children a fairytale operatunity

The University of Sheffield's Department of Music is working with children in and around Sheffield to produce an opera based on a classic fairytale. Hansel and Gretel will be performed by a mixture of University students and children from Lydgate School, at Sheffield Cathedral on 31st January at 1.30pm. Other children are being given the opportunity to learn about the opera in a series of workshops in local schools.

"The aim of the project is to introduce children to the medium of opera and help them to learn more of its artistic value", says publicity officer Sarah Blamire-Brown. "Using a subject such as Hansel and Gretel is ideal as many of the children are already aware of the story and so can easily notice how a plot line is adapted for this style of performance."

Directed by Gavin Magenty, a third year undergraduate in the Department of Music, the opera brings together the talents of students as the soloists and the children who form the chorus. The orchestra is made up of a varied age range with pupils from the Sheffield Music Service playing alongside musicians from the University.

The production scales down and modernises the original score by Englebert Humperdinck, following the infamous tale of the lost children who become prisoner to a child-eating witch. Despite the dark subject matter, the music is light and, at times, comical. The simple folk melodies against rich musical accompaniment capture the true spirit of the tale by the Brothers Grimm.

Director Gavin Magenty says, "This is an excellent opportunity for both adults and children who enjoy music to experience opera in a digestible form.

"The whole project has been a real learning experience for all involved, particularly for the children, many of whom have not worked on a production of this scale before."

Tickets are priced at £3 adults, £2 concessions and £1 children under 12 and are on sale now from the University of Sheffield Music Department (Tel: 0114 2220470), the University union box office (Tel: 0114 2228777) and Sheffield Music Shop (Tel: 0114 2661000). Limited tickets may also be available on the door.

Notes for Editors: Although largely student run, the project is under the guidance of Dr Jane Davidson. Professor Nigel Simeone makes his Sheffield debut as the musical Director.

For further information and press tickets: please contact Sarah Blamire-Brown, publicity officer on 0114 2679 848. Other contacts: Director Gavin Magenty on 07884 381698 or Dr Jane Davidson, Department of Music on 0114 222 0475.