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Little Red Riding Hood transforms into operatic performance at Brenau
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Little Red Riding Hood Opera Workshop
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 1, and 2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 2
Where: Pearce Auditorium, Brenau University, 202 Boulevard, Gainesville
How much: Free for general admission
More info: 770-538-4764 or www.brenau.edu/fineartshumanities/music/musicevents

Most children know the tale of the big, bad wolf disguised as a grandmother, contemplating the best way to eat a little girl in a red cloak.

It’s a story full of important childhood lessons, such as “Don’t talk to strangers” and “Pay attention.” And it usually comes with just a healthy dose of fear and drama.

But the Brenau University Opera Workshop is presenting a different take on the tale of “Little Red Riding Hood.”

American composer Seymour Barab’s 1962 opera version of Charles Perrault’s “Little Red Riding Hood” presents the scary wolf as a comic character, Little Red’s granny as an irritable, absent-minded old lady and the title character as a charming girl with the voice of an angel. This version of the tale will be presented in two free showings — 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 1, and 2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 2, in Pearce Auditorium on Brenau University at 202 Boulevard in downtown Gainesville.

The workshop is led by Brenau music adjunct Jan Grissom, who has performed as a professional opera singer for more than 20 years, according to a release from the university.

Barbara Steinhaus, music department chair at Brenau, said each production includes three students: a soprano, a mezzo-soprano and a baritone playing multiple roles.

Shelby Cody, junior music performance major, and Amber Urso, freshman theater major, will play Little Red Riding Hood on alternate days. Sophomore music performance major Gabrielle Wagner will portray the mother and grandmother while freshman music theater major John Tyler Dobson will be the wolf and woodsman who hunts him.

This telling of the classic fable will be stray from any other production. Opera differs from musical theater, Steinhaus said, because it is driven by the music, not the dialogue.

The story begin with Little Red Riding Hood’s mother sending her daughter to Granny’s house with sweets, according to www.seymourbarab.com. Red takes her time along the way, meeting the wolf and discussing her sick grandmother.

As the wolf hears of the treats Red is bringing to her grandmother, his stomach begins to turn. That small detail ultimately allows Red and her grandmother to defeat the wolf.

The story varies from the traditional telling, but retains the message for children. It’s a good show for families and people of all ages, said Grissom, who hopes to take it to local schools after the workshops.

“I laugh at every single rehearsal,” she said. “The kids will be pulled into the story and cheering for Little Red. It’s a sweet and charming show.”

For more information, call 770-534-4764 or visit www.brenau.edu/fineartshumanities/music.

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