Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel returned to the Met beginning December 14 as this year's special holiday presentation. The performances-four of which are matinees at 11 a.m.-will be sung in English, with specially priced tickets, including center orchestra seats at $99. Angelika Kirchschlager and Miah Persson sing the title roles for the first time at the Met, and Fabio Luisi conducts. Tenor Philip Langridge reprises his acclaimed portrayal of the Witch, and Rosalind Plowright and Dwayne Croft sing the roles of the parents. The production is by Richard Jones. John MacFarlane is the set and costume designer, Jennifer Tipton the lighting designer, and Linda Dobell the choreographer. David Pountney wrote the English version of the libretto, based on the classic tale by The Brothers Grimm. Performances run through January 2.
When Richard Jones's production of Hansel and Gretel premiered on Christmas Eve in 2007, the New York Times observed, "Children were everywhere at the Metropolitan Opera on Monday... Applause broke out all through the performance, especially when the plucky Hansel and Gretel pushed the glutinous Witch into the oven during the final scene." The production was transmitted into movie theaters worldwide as part of The Met: Live in HD series, and the DVD is now available on the EMI label. This season's performances mark the first time the Met has revived the production.
About the Performers
Miah Persson made her Met debut earlier this season as Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, a role she also sang to great acclaim at the Salzburg Festival and the San Francisco Opera. The Swedish soprano has performed many Mozart roles, including Sifare in Mitridate (Salzburg Festival), Pamina in Die Zauberflöte (Stockholm Royal Opera), Zerlina in Don Giovanni, and Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro (both Royal Opera, Covent Garden), as well as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte (Glyndebourne Festival). Her repertoire also includes Euridice in Orfeo ed Euridice (Teatre Liceu, Barcelona), the title role in Handel's Partenope (Theater an der Wien), and the Governess in The Turn of the Screw (Frankfurt Opera).
Angelika Kirchschlager makes her Met role debut as Hansel. The Austrian mezzo-soprano first appeared with the company as Annio in La Clemenza di Tito in 1997 and has also sung Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro here. Her recent engagements include the title roles in Carmen (Deutsche Oper, Berlin) and Handel's Ariodante (Theater an der Wien). Elsewhere this season she appears as Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus (Bavarian State Opera, Munich) and in a pair of Strauss roles, Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier, and Clairon in Capriccio (both at the Vienna State Opera).
When Philip Langridge appeared in this production's premiere in 2007, the New York Times said, "In a casting coup, the Witch is sung by the British tenor Philip Langridge, who has a cackling laugh and looks like a demented Julia Child." The New York Sun found that "Mr. Langridge looked a little like Mrs. Doubtfire, and he appeared to have a ball in this role, making the audience have a ball, too." Langridge made his Met debut in 1985 as Ferrando in Così fan tutte and sang the demanding role of Aron in the Met premiere of Schoenberg's Moses und Aron in 1999. His other Met roles include Prince Shuisky in Boris Godunov, Loge in Das Rheingold, Captain Vere in Billy Budd, and the title role of Peter Grimes.
Rosalind Plowright reprises the role of Hansel and Gretel's mother, Gertrude, which she sang at the premiere of this production in 2007. The English mezzo-soprano made her Met debut as Kostelni?ka in Jen?fa in 2003. Among her recent engagements are Fricka in Der Ring des Nibelungen (Royal Opera, Covent Garden), Klytämnestra in Elektra (Seattle Opera), and the mother in Dallapiccola's Il Prigioniero (Paris Opera).
Dwayne Croft has sung 28 roles at the Met, but these are his first performances with the company of Peter, Hansel and Gretel's father. Last season he appeared as Lescaut in Act III of Manon in the Opening Night Gala, and as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly; both were seen live in HD. The American baritone portrayed Nick Carraway in the 1999 world premiere of John Harbison's The Great Gatsby and Ernesto in the Met premiere of Il Pirata (2002). He has sung in many new production premieres, including Pelléas in Pelléas et Mélisande (1995), De Siriex in Fedora (1996), Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro (1998), and Chorèbe in Les Troyens (2003).
Fabio Luisi adds three new works to his Met repertory this season: Hansel and Gretel, Le Nozze di Figaro (beginning November 23), and Elektra (beginning December 10). He made his Met debut with Don Carlo in 2005, conducted the new production of Strauss's Die Ägyptische Helena in 2007, and has also led performances of Simon Boccanegra and Turandot. A native of Genoa, he was originally a pianist but turned to conducting while he was working as an accompanist for the legendary Turkish soprano Leyla Gencer. He is chief conductor of the Vienna Symphony, general music director of the Dresden State Opera, chief conductor of Dresden's Staatskapelle, and chief conductor and music director of the MDR Symphony Orchestra in Leipzig.
Live Broadcasts Around the World
Hansel and Gretel will be experienced by millions of people around the world this season on the radio and the internet, through distribution platforms the Met has established with various media partners.
Hansel and Gretel will be broadcast on the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network on Saturday, January 2 at 1:00 p.m.
About the Met
Under the leadership of General Manager Peter Gelb and Music Director James Levine, the Met has a series of bold initiatives underway that are designed to broaden its audience and revitalize the company's repertory. The Met has made a commitment to presenting modern masterpieces alongside the classic repertory, with highly theatrical productions featuring the greatest opera stars in the world.