Tonight, a new productions of Engelbert Humperdinck's Hänsel and Gretel opens in Milan at Teatro alla Scala.
The cast features opera students from La Scala's prestigious Academy. This, however, is no student production.
German director, Sven-Eric Bechtolf, has worked extensively in opera, mainly in Germany and Austria. The strong connection with La Scala's current Intendant, Alexander Pereira, is summed up by Wikipedia:
In 2011, Bechtolf became the director of the Salzburg Festival under the director Alexander Pereira . He was regarded as Pereira's favourite candidate after having worked with him several times at the Zurich Opera House. After Pereira prematurely asked for a resolution of the contract in 2014 and switched to the Scala in Milan, the board of trustees of the Festival asked Bechtolf to assume the overall responsibility for the festival in 2015 and 2016.
He brings an award-winning design team with him. The British pair responsible for the opera's look are Julian Crouch (sets) and Kevin Pollard (costumes), and the results are stunning.
Crouch is well known for designing the Royal National Theatre's production of Jerry Springer – The Opera, the Met's The Enchanted Iceland, which had costumes by Pollard.
Pollard design the costumes for the NT's hilarious production of Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and Philip Glass's Satyagraha for the English National Opera and the Met.
Hänsel and Gretel at La Scala runs from 2 – 24 September
Conductor – Marc Albrecht
Staging – Sven-Eric Bechtolf
Sets – Julian Crouch
Costumes – Kevin Pollard
Lights Design – Marco Filibeck
Video Design – Joshua Higgason
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.