January 10, 2023
Q&A with Jill Grove
To say that Chicago is excited about a return of mezzo-soprano Jill Grove as the Witch in Hansel and Gretel would be an understatement. As she reprises her role later this month, we can expect “an absolute hoot” (Chicago Tribune) — but what is she expecting, a decade later? We sat down with the Witch herself to see what she’s cooking up.
Lyric: How does it feel to be back at Lyric for Hansel and Gretel?
Grove: It feels wonderful! It's not easy to stay relevant as an artist in this day and age and as I am coming up on 30 years of being a professional opera singer, it is a nice validation that my hard work to stay vocally fit is still recognized. I love this production and I love singing the Witch. It's a challenging part, higher in the register for a mezzo, plus in this production there is very intense "food choreography." I usually end up finding flour and frosting everywhere at the end of the show.
Lyric: You've been in this production before, but are you finding any challenges this time around?
Grove: The biggest challenge is being 10 years older and remembering all that German! It's a physical role as well as a vocally challenging one. I also recently had a total hip replacement on my left hip so you can bet I am doing everything I can to be in tip-top shape in the weeks leading up to rehearsals.
Lyric: What is your favorite part about this role, and this show as a whole?
Grove: There are so many wonderful moments in this whole show — the lullaby, the dream, the Sandman. For my part specifically, it's gotta be playing with all the messy food! I love to make a mess.
Lyric: This score is large and beautiful; which aria are you most excited to perform, or listen to?
Grove: The score is gorgeous and although a children's story, it is a very musically complex opera. I feel like my whole scene is just one big aria, but I do love the Witch's Ride. Also, the children's chorus at the end is just beautiful.
Lyric: If your house was made out of candy, what are the candies that MUST be included?
Grove: Oh... Reese’s cups, violet crumble, Smarties, and Snickers.
Lyric: What do you hope audiences are able to take away from Hansel and Gretel?
Grove: I hope the audience can lose themselves for a few hours in a fantasy world. The orchestra, production, singers, acting, lighting, just everything about this opera and production is perfect. I think it hits all the right notes — see what I did there? — for full family enjoyment and awe.