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UT Opera Ensemble modernizes ‘The Brothers Grimm,’ ‘Little Red Riding Hood’

The University of Toledo Opera Ensemble will bring the story of Grimm’s fairy tales into the 21st century with its presentation of two one-act operas — “The Brothers Grimm” and “Little Red Riding Hood” — Friday through Sunday, April 21-23, in the Center for Performing Arts Recital Hall.

Curtain time will be 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday.

The performance of “The Brothers Grimm” will be the Ohio premiere of the opera written by Canadian composer Dean Burry.

“Written for those relatively new to opera, ‘The Brothers Grimm’ is an engaging tale of how the famous siblings took oral German folk stories and immortalized their colorful characters in writing,” said Dr. Denise Ritter Bernardini, assistant professor of music, who is producing and directing the show. “Characters such as Rumpelstiltskin, Rapunzel and Little Red Cap spring to life fresh and anew under the skillful pens of the brothers Wilhelm and Jacob.”

The UT Opera Ensemble will then present one of the most famous of the Grimm’s stories, “Little Red Riding Hood,” by Seymour Barab.

The Center for Performing Arts Recital Hall will be transformed into the forest setting, and the audience will be drawn into the action as Red makes her famous trek to grandma’s house.

Can rap and opera coexist? Apparently, they can, and to great effect. The ensemble’s take on Barab’s libretto, which includes spoken poetry, incorporates rap and modern dance moves, and provides the performance with a sense of currency and relevance, without destroying the romance of the original story. 

“Both operas are very accessible to those new to opera, as well as the experienced. For seasoned opera goers, solid performances by award-winning student singers guarantee them a thoroughly satisfying experience,” Ritter Bernardini said.

Cast members for “The Brothers Grimm” are voice students Moises Salazar and Brandon Warren as Wilhelm Grimm; Nate Krebs as Jacob Grimm; Kate Walcher as Frau Viehmann; Joshua Kramer as Brentano/Col. Krause; Ashley Roark as Dortchen; Mackenzie Payton as Rapunzel/Miller’s daughter; Meridian Prall as the Witch/Wolf; Danielle Hale as Little Red Cap; and Will Floss as Rumpelstiltskin.

Taking the stage for “Little Red Riding Hood” will be voice students Paige Chapman as Little Red Riding Hood; Kate Walcher as Mother; Chelsie Cree as Grandmother;Devon Desmond as the Wolf; and Will Floss as the Woodsman.

Assisting Ritter Bernardini with the production are Chelsie Cree, assistant director; Andreea Lee, accompanist/rehearsal pianist; and Mike Vanderpool, costumes.

It should be noted that both operas are a little on the grown-up side. There are scenes with violence that may be too intense for audience members younger than 8 years old.

Tickets $10 to $15 are available through the Center for Performing Arts Box Office online at utoledo.tix.com or by calling 419.530.ARTS (2787).