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UAA opera puts Inupiaq twist on classic ‘Hansel and Gretel’ fairytale

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For the University of Alaska Anchorage Opera Ensemble’s winter performance, Hansel and Gretel meet the Alaska tundra.

“Aklaq and Nayak” is an Inupiaq adaptation of the fairytale. It’s a joint production with the Anchorage Opera.

“We want to do things a little bit differently,” said Anchorage Opera general rirector Reed Smith. “We think it tells the story a little bit better for people who have grown up in Alaska and experienced the hunting and fishing.”

In this twist on the classic, the characters get lost berry picking; they end up at a house made of smoked salmon, not gingerbread.

“I think it’s wonderful, I think it’s a great way to showcase our culture,” said UAA senior Kira Eckenweiler. “It’s a great way for people to see how much we live off a subsistence lifestyle.”

Eckenweiler stars as Nayak, the Gretel character. The Unalakleet native is pround to showcase her heritage on center stage.

“It’s definitely western style music. I’ve always loved opera. I think it’s great having our culture expressed in every way possible,” said Eckenweiler.

The Anchorage Opera hopes this production will be the first in its Educational Outreach Program. The goal is to bring the show to schools around the state.

Smith said it’s a win-win for both the singers and the students.

“Children in the schools in the area get to see a live operatic performance and talk to the artists up close. It’s an opportunity they might not otherwise have,” he said.

Eckenweiler said music education is lacking in rural schools. She didn’t find out about the opera until she was in high school. Bringing the opera to the Bush would be a great way for her to share her passion with students who might one day take the stage themselves.

“Aklaq and Nayak” shows at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 12 and 13.

The post UAA opera puts Inupiaq twist on classic ‘Hansel and Gretel’ fairytale appeared first on KTVA 11.

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