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UTRGV Bravo Opera Company’s community outreach delights school children with ‘Hansel and Gretel’

Cesia Hernandez, a junior education major from Brownsville, played the Día de los Muertos-inspired Sandman in UTRGV Bravo Opera Company’s morning performance of “Hansel and Gretel” on Friday, Oct. 14, at the TSC Arts Center in Brownsville. The hall was filled with hundreds of children from elementary schools in Brownsville, San Benito and Harlingen for this special community outreach event that occurs every October. (UTRGV Photo by Veronica Gaona)

Cesia Hernandez, a junior education major from Brownsville, played the Día de los Muertos-inspired Sandman in UTRGV Bravo Opera Company’s morning performance of “Hansel and Gretel” on Friday, Oct. 14, at the TSC Arts Center in Brownsville. The hall was filled with hundreds of children from elementary schools in Brownsville, San Benito and Harlingen for this special community outreach event that occurs every October. (UTRGV Photo by Veronica Gaona)

By Cheryl Taylor

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – OCT. 14, 2016 – Hundreds of elementary school children from Brownsville, San Benito and Harlingen sat mesmerized for 45 minutes on Friday, during The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Bravo Opera Company’s morning performance of “Hansel and Gretel” at the Texas Southmost College Arts Center.

This special production of composer Engelbert Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel” is inspired by Día de los Muertos, with Mexican folklore, costumes and traditions woven into the Grimms’ fairy tale of two hungry children who become lost in the woods and must find their way home.

Fifth-grade choir students from Brownsville’s Putegnat Elementary School said they loved everything – the witch’s laugh, the singing, dancing, acting and costumes – after the performance.

“Having the Bravo Opera Company put on this show every year is such a wonderful opportunity for my students to see a live performance,” said Javier Balboa, the fine arts teacher at Putegnat, who graduated in the first music education class at UTB/TSC in 1998. “This is the first time they have been inside a performing arts theater. As we entered the hall, they were all ‘oohs and ahhs.’”

After the show, the children met the cast members, who were lined up in the lobby, and gave them high fives.

Balboa’s students had brought their music folders with them and took the time to ask cast members interview questions they had prepared.

Alfonso Gonzalez, fine arts teacher at Landrum Elementary School in San Benito and a May 2016 UTRGV music education graduate, brought two third-grade classes and two fourth-grade classes, for a total of 74 students.

Opportunities like this performance present the students with new experiences and help them learn correct theater etiquette, he said.

“My students have been studying the original story of Hansel and Gretel. The children have learned the concepts of protagonist and antagonist,” Gonzalez said. “In our upcoming classes, we will compare and contrast the Grimms’ fairy tale with this opera version by Engelbert Humperdinck.”

Before the show, Catherine Compton, Bravo Opera Company director and lecturer in voice, came on stage and spoke to the sea of children. She explained proper theater behavior and gave them hints on applause and when it would be appropriate. Her lesson caught on quickly, with the students clapping fervently when appropriate.

“This is one of our (UTRGV) music students’ favorite performances, because we know you all will love seeing the show and will really appreciate all the hard work that goes into a production such as this,” Compton said.

About 30 university music students are involved in the production, with roles including the witch’s helpers, the sandman’s helpers, the dew fairy and the gingerbread children. Everyone in the production helps with sets, costumes and props.

HANSEL AND GRETEL LEAD ROLES 

Hansel: Evany Jackson, a UTRGV senior from Harlingen.

Gretel: Monica Garza, a sophomore from Brownsville.

Witch: Iliana Zendejas, a junior from Brownsville.

Sandman: Cesia Hernandez, a junior from Brownsville.

Dew fairy: Doris Cedillo, a junior from Matamoros.

The second community outreach production of “Hansel and Gretel” took place at noon Friday.

In response to last year’s success, Patron of the Arts again will present Bravo Opera Company’s “Hansel and Gretel” for the general public to enjoy at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, in the TSC Arts Center in Brownsville.

Admission to the public performance on Saturday is $10 for adults and $5 for children, seniors (65+) and students with a college or high school ID. There is no charge for Patron ticket holders.

For more information or special accommodations for the Patron of the Arts, contact Vallerie Hernandez at (956) 882-7025 or Dahlia Guerra at (956) 665-2353.

Elementary school children from Harlingen, San Benito and Brownsville were awed by a special staging of the opera “Hansel and Gretel” by the UTRGV Bravo Opera Company, Friday, Oct. 14, at the TSC Arts Center in Brownsville. The production was inspired by Día de los Muertos, with Mexican folklore, costumes and traditions woven into the original fairy tale of two hungry children lost in the woods who must find their way home. (UTRGV Photo by Veronica Gaona)

Doris Cedillo, a junior music education major, played the Día de los Muertos-inspired Dew Fairy in UTRGV Bravo Opera Company’s morning performance of “Hansel and Gretel” on Friday, Oct. 14, at the TSC Arts Center in Brownsville. The hall was filled with hundreds of children from elementary schools in Brownsville, San Benito and Harlingen for this special community outreach event that occurs every October. (UTRGV Photo by Veronica Gaona)

Hundreds of children from elementary schools in Harlingen, San Benito and Brownsville attended the UTRGV Bravo Opera Company’s morning performances of “Hansel and Gretel” at the TSC Arts Center in Brownsville. Special staging of this opera by composer Engelbert Humperdinck was inspired by Día de los Muertos, with Mexican folklore, costumes and traditions woven into the Grimms’ fairy tale of two hungry children who become lost in the woods and must find their way home. (UTRGV Photo by Veronica Gaona)

Dressed in their golden panther shirts, the fifth grade choir from Brownsville’s Putegnat Elementary School made up one of the many school groups that attended UTRGV Bravo Opera Company’s morning performance of “Hansel and Gretel” on Friday, Oct. 14, at the TSC Arts Center in Brownsville. (UTRGV Photo by Veronica Gaona)

Lead actors Evany Jackson, a UTRGV senior from Harlingen, as Hansel (at left), and Monica Garza, a UTRGV sophomore from Brownsville, as Gretel, portray two children lost in the woods who must find their way home, in UTRGV Bravo Opera Company’s production of “Hansel and Gretel.” (UTRGV Photo by Veronica Gaona)

Lead actors Evany Jackson, a UTRGV senior from Harlingen, as Hansel (at left), and Monica Garza, a UTRGV sophomore from Brownsville, as Gretel, portray two children lost in the woods who must find their way home, in UTRGV Bravo Opera Company’s production of “Hansel and Gretel.” (UTRGV Photo by Veronica Gaona)

PHOTO GALLERIES

https://www.flickr.com/gp/utrgvnews/wv075U  

https://www.flickr.com/gp/utrgvnews/N46B35    

MEDIA CONTACTS

Cheryl.Taylor@UTRGV.edu
UTRGV Senior Writer / 956-882-8787

Marci.Caltabiano@UTRGV.edu
UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications / 956-665-2742

For more information or special accommodations for the Patron of the Arts, contact Vallerie Hernandez at (956) 882-7025 or Dahlia Guerra at (956) 665-2353.