Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel was performed in a holiday show by Amore Opera. The matinee audience was rapt as Gretel (adorable Smitha Johnson) murders the witch, shoving her into the oven, and with the superpowers newly invested in her, the children that the witch killed come back to life. It was a powerful moment. The ten children on stage were acting so totally.

Amore Opera nurtures a passionate performance, whatever the age of the singer. Rob Garner, with his velvet baritone and expressive acting, played the father. We were also pleased to see among the serious and professional gingerbread children Arden Wheeler Wolfe, in her third Amore opera. (Her favorite still is Don Giovanni.)

As the witch, Anita Lyons is full out, the way a witch should be. She is fun and creepy and enjoys every moment of her wickedness. She has some great dance steps! Amore Opera knows how to find humor in the drama (without resorting to broad panto casting). At a fraction of the cost of a ticket, don't expect the sets to compete with the Metropolitan Opera's. The forest backdrop seemed in danger of falling over, yet the magic went on. The orchestra is so good, conducted by lanky Richard Owen (in tux with tail coat). Looking forward to Carmen and a rare performance of Donizetti's La Zingara (The Gypsy Woman) in 2017.

Cozy, well-lit and welcoming, the Colombian restaurant Dulce Vida is prized on the Upper East Side. The menu is varied, though fish is practically absent. A popular platos fuerte is flank steak with rice, fried egg, red beans, plantains, and Colombian style bacon. The red bean casserole is another, with the Colombian style bacon, steak, and sweet plantains. Empanadas with shredded chicken or beef have a crispy corn crust.

Maria's Guacamole with plantain chips is especially great, and the vinegary pepper sauce, Aji, is simply wonderful, made in house. You can take a jar of Dulce Vida's green pepper sauce home. It's mild enough to serve to a Republican. Numerous postres (desserts) are also packaged to go, including flan and tres leches cake.