A graduate student will make her opera debut Nov. 21-22 in her lead role as Hansel in “Hansel and Gretel,” an upcoming performance at the UA University Theatre. 

The UA Opera Theatre will present an opera performance of “Hansel and Gretel” on Nov. 21 and 22 at 7:30 p.m. Performed by fourteen undergraduate and graduate students, the play will run around two hours long. Admission to the show is free.

Lost in a dark forest, siblings Hansel and Gretel face obstacles in finding their way home after stumbling upon a suspicious woman and her gingerbread house.

Cast for the role of Hansel at the start of fall semester, Ashley Butler, 28, said she has grown as a performer throughout working on this production.

Stage director Laura Shatkus said she saw Butler transform during rehearsals into not only a stage performer, but an opera singer.

“My hope for the audience is that they will not see me, but they will see Hansel,” Butler said,  “That they won’t see a woman on stage, but they’ll see a little boy taking care of his sister.”

Before going on medical leave, David Malis, the associate professor for voice and opera, originally planned to direct “Hansel and Gretel.” The current musical director, Hyun Kim, said she was assigned this project just a week before the start of fall semester.

Pulling off an opera production from start to finish in just one semester required a lot of teamwork, Kim said. Differing from a musical, Kim said the opera serves as an “analog” way of performance.

“In a live performance of opera, the singer is able to sing for the audience, not the microphone,” Kim said.

Eager for opening night, Kim said she hopes the audience will be able to engage with the story and appreciate the opera performance.

A previous version of this article spelled Ashley Butler’s name incorrectly. It has been changed to the correct spelling.

The Traveler strives for accuracy and clarity in all matters. 

Raegan Holland is a staff reporter for The Arkansas Traveler.

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