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Purchase Opera Company Adapts 'Hansel and Gretel'

HARRISON, N.Y. - Audiences will be given a dynamic look at "Hansel and Gretel" this season when the Purchase Opera Company of the college's Conservatory of Music not only performs the Grimm fairy tale, but also offers a glimpse beyond the footlights into the process of staging the show.

"Audiences will be close enough to the singers and musicians to feel the sweat, sound, and energy of the performance, and at the end, will actually meet the singers," Conservatory of Music Director Suzanne Farrin said. "Our goal is to make this opera a popular draw for Westchester families every year."

Farrin said the audiences will be put "right into the action" in an intimate space without barriers between the stage and audience.

To make the event more special is the donation of seats to children from local schools and charitable organizations. Assistant Director of the Purchase Opera Margaret Vignola said seats will be donated as holiday gifts to less fortunate children and seniors in the area.

"We've seen firsthand the benefits to students of being exposed to opera at an early age," she says. "The students always have great questions for the performers during the question-and-answer sessions, about the study of opera and music."

Question-and-answer sessions will follow each performance, giving audience members the chance to ask whatever they wish to the artists, musicians and artistic director. The performances are set tol take place in the Conservatory of Music building on Dec. 7, 8, and 9 at 10:30 a.m., and Dec. 9 at 7 p.m.

Hansel and Gretel is a longtime holiday favorite and one of the most popular operas. This year's English-language production, an original abridged adaptation by Purchase Opera alumna Nadine Kulberg, will make the German-language opera accessible and entertaining to audience members of all ages, Farrin said.

A six-time recipient of the National Opera Association Award, Purchase Opera achieved nationwide recognition with its previous Hansel and Gretel production in 2004. The 2011 production, sponsored by the Westchester Community Foundation, is a sample of the full-length, German and English-language opera slated for 2012.

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