The Little Red Riding Hood gracing the Olympia Theater’s stage until April 28 is not much like the one in fairy-tale books. She sings beautifully, she’s not dressed exclusively in red (just red boots and a matching bow in her hair), she’s very independent and quite sassy, and tricks the Big Bad Wolf by craftily drawing him into her passion for sweets, which always upset his tummy.
The Greek National Opera (GNO) has chosen the classic fairy tale for its latest children’s opera production, and picked a young director, 25-year-old Dimitris Karantzas, to give it a more modern twist. The production, which is under an hour long and without an intermission, is a grand affair with a live orchestra that is sure to thrill children and adults alike.
Marrying prose and opera, and presenting a show with candy-colored sets and costumes that give the stage a retro cartoon appearance, the GNO production of “Little Red Riding Hood” is a great way to introduce children to opera without worrying that they’ll be yawning or fidgeting in their seats with boredom halfway through.
The opera was penned by Seymour Barab in 1962 and inspired by the classic 1697 fairy tale by Charles Perrault. But in Barab’s version, the wolf is not omnipotent but vulnerable, and Little Red Riding Hood is not quite the absent-minded daydreamer many of us are accustomed to. The mother is comically hysterical, the grandmother is hyperactive and rather cheeky, and the woodman is a constant feature in the narrative. Staged as a farce for children, the GNO’s production is much like a musical with comedic elements.
The biggest twist in Barab’s version of the tale is that the wolf does not terrorize Red, but becomes the object of humiliation when her constant talk of sweet strawberries and treats kills his appetite for anything meatier.
Tickets for the show, which has three separate casts performing on alternate days, range from 10-25 euros.
Olympia Theater, 59-61 Academias, Athens, tel 210.366.2100