Public invited to Red Riding Hood

Published 12:05 am Thursday, April 28, 2011

NATCHEZ — Who wears a red cape, ignores her mother’s sound advice and casually talks to strange wolves?

It is Little Red Riding Hood, who appeared before Natchez-Adams County schoolchildren last week and this week, delivering the story in operatic style.

Two free performances of “Little Red Riding Hood” for the community will be at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Friday at Braden School in Natchez as part of the Natchez Festival of Music.

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“The children love it,” Rena Jean Schmieg said. Schmieg is on the festival’s board of directors and serves as president of the Natchez Festival of Music Guild. “They have been so well behaved, I think because they are fascinated.”

Schmieg said the opera conveys good morals to children, like mind your mother and don’t talk to strangers.

“We give them an opportunity to ask questions when it’s over,” Schmieg said. “When the children are asked, ‘Do you love opera?’ They shout, ‘Yes!’”

Jonathan Levin is pianist and musical director for Little Red Riding Hood. Amber Womack performs as Little Red Riding Hood. Hilerie Klein Rensi sings the part of the mother and grandmother. Scott Roche is the wolf and woodsman.

The opera is complete with an interchangeable backdrop and costumes. Schmieg, who designed the backdrop from PVC pipe, said putting it together was a feat of engineering. Leon Hollis painted the backdrop.

“The music is great and so are the costumes,” Schmieg said.

“Scott has a snout, ears that stick way up and gloves with claws. The opera teaches children to listen to their inner feelings when something is not quite right and (teaches) the joy of opera.”

Schmieg said she is proud that children in the area have the opportunity to be exposed to real opera, and that adults can join in the fun Friday.

“This is a chance for adults to hear professional musicians who are highly screened, wonderfully talented in many ways and giving of themselves.

“The music is gorgeous, and we all need to be reminded of the lessons the opera teaches,” she said.