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Bob Dylan tributes, Deborah Voigt, Tom Paxton, Bill Kirchen, John Kirk and Trish Miller

Celebrating Bob Dylan's 70th Birthday in Style
Paying tribute to the greatest rock songwriter ever

FILM REVIEW: In a Better World and Of Gods and Men
Review by Seth Rogovoy

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Deborah Voigt Headlines Mahaiwe Gala
Opera star to sing arias, show tunes on Saturday, May 21

Famed Spiritual Teacher to Speak on Nonviolence
Mother Maya in free talk at Sruti Yoga in Great Barrington, Mass., on Friday May 20 at 7pm

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Weekend Preview May 12-16
Cultural Highlights of the Berkshire Weekend

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Elaine and I grew up together, but only just recently met....

Berkshire Living to Cease Publication
A Farewell from Publisher Michael Zivyak

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[MUSIC REVIEW] Avalon Quartet in Close Encounters at Mahaiwe
Review by Seth Rogovoy

[MUSIC REVIEW] Avalon Quartet in Close Encounters at Mahaiwe
Review by Seth Rogovoy

[FILM REVIEW] Bill Cunningham New York
Review by Seth Rogovoy

[FILM REVIEW] Bill Cunningham New York
Review by Seth Rogovoy

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[OPERA REVIEW] Hansel and Gretel by Berkshire Opera

Opera in Three Acts
Music by Engelbert Humperdinck
Libretto by Adelheid Wette
Based on a story in Grimm's fairy tales

July 27 at 8
July 29 and 31 at 2 p.m.


Performed in ENGLISH with ENGLISH supertitles
Featuring premiere of new ENglish translation by COri Ellison, New York City Opera

Conductor: Kathleen Kelly

--Review by SETH ROGOVOY, critic-at-large, BERKSHIRE LIVING magazine

(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass., July 26, 2006) -- I wish I'd brought my kids.

They're 13 and 15, and probably the last thing in the world they'd probably assent to do is to go to an "opera." But had I known this HANSEL AND GRETEL was going to be sung in English, had I known it was to be given a jazzy new translation, had I known it was to be played for comic accessibility, and had I realized the story, as written, was exactly the same as the very familiar fairy tale, I think they would have had a terrific time at what just would have happened to have been an authentic, beautifully performed opera with terrific vocal and instrumental performances by the chamber orchestra under the direction of Berkshire Opera Company musical director Kathleen Kelly.

THis isn't to say that this was a children's show -- by no means is that the intention. But it certainly IS a family-friendly show, one that can be enjoyed on its artistic merits as a well-performed opera with a terrific professional cast of singer-actors, as well as a charming, light entertainment, with terrific costumes by Arthur Oliver and wonderful set design by Carl Sprague.

The Mahaiwe is a wonderful setting for such a performance. We enjoyed the first half from our seats in the orchestra, and then tried out the mezzanine for Act Two -- I might actually recommend that for the best orchestral sound you go up to the mezzanine or balcony -- from there the instruments were clean and precise, and to the credit of the vocalists, who were singing totally unamplified (a rarity these days), they could be heard quite clearly above the musicians.

The familiar HANSEL AND GRETEL story touches on so many primal motifs -- hunger and scarcity, crime and punishment, good and evil -- that anyone can enjoy the opera as well as be challenged to consider some of these eternal dialectics. The characterizations chosen for this performance by the ensemble and by stage director Bethany Reeves were vivid and precise, and kudos go to the performers, especially Alisa Thomason and Carolyn A. Kahl, who were Gretel and Hansel, respectively, as well as Meredith Flaster and John Fulton, who played their parents with lusty gusto.

There is still time to catch one more evening performance and two weekend matinees -- don't make the same mistake I did -- bring your children -- in fact, don't even TELL them it's an opera -- tell them it's a play with music, and no matter what their age, they will be enchanted by Berkshire Opera's wonderful production of HANSEL and GRETEL.

--by SETH ROGOVOY, critic-at-large, BERKSHIRE LIVING magazine

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