HANSEL AND GRETEL Returns As Met Opera's Holiday Presentation For Families, Begins 12/14

HANSEL AND GRETEL Returns As Met Opera's Holiday Presentation For Families, Begins 12/14

Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel returns 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.

The premiere on December 14 will be broadcast live on Metropolitan Opera Radio on SIRIUS channel 78 and XM channel 79, as will the performances on December 21 matinee and January 2 matinee.
The performance on December 14 will also be available via RealNetworks internet streaming on the Met's website, www.metopera.org.

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.

The Met's 2009-10 season features eight new productions, four of which are Met premieres. Opening night is a new production of Tosca starring Karita Mattila, conducted by Levine and directed by Luc Bondy. The four Met premieres are: Janá?ek's From the House of the Dead, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen and directed by Patrice Chéreau, both in Met debuts; Verdi's Attila starring Ildar Abdrazakov, conducted by Riccardo Muti and directed by Pierre Audi, with set and costume design by Miuccia Prada, Jacques Herzog, and Pierre de Meuron, all in their Met debuts; Shostakovich's The Nose featuring Paulo Szot, conducted by Valery Gergiev and directed and designed by William Kentridge in his Met debut; and Rossini's Armida with Renée Fleming, conducted by Riccardo Frizza and directed by Mary Zimmerman. Other new productions are Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann; Carmen with El?na Garan?a and Roberto Alagna, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin and directed by Richard Eyre, both in Met debuts; and Thomas's Hamlet with Natalie Dessay and Simon Keenlyside, conducted by Louis Langrée and directed by Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser in their Met debuts.

Building on its 78-year radio broadcast history-currently heard over the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network-the Met now uses advanced media distribution platforms and state-of-the-art technology to attract new audiences and reach millions of opera fans around the world.

The Emmy and Peabody Award-winning The Met: Live in HD series returns for its fourth season in 2009-10 with nine transmissions, beginning October 10 with the new production of Tosca and ending with the new production of Rossini's Armida on May 1. The productions are seen in more than 900 theaters in 42 countries around the world and last season sold more than 1.8 million tickets. These performances began airing on PBS in March 2008, and nine HD performances are now available on DVD. The Magic Flute was released by the Met and is available at the newly renovated Met Opera Shop. In addition, two classic Met performances from 1978 have recently been released by the Met: Otello, conducted by Levine with Jon Vickers and Renata Scotto; and Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci conducted by Levine, with Tatiana Troyanos and Plácido Domingo in the first part of the double bill and Teresa Stratas, Plácido Domingo, and Sherrill Milnes in the latter. The Met: Live in HD series is made possible by a generous grant from the Neubauer Family Foundation. Bloomberg L.P. is the global corporate sponsor of The Met: Live in HD.

HD Live in Schools, the Met's program offering free opera transmissions to New York City schools in partnership with the New York City Department of Education and the Metropolitan Opera Guild, continues for a third season. This season, for the second consecutive year the program will reach public school students and teachers in 18 cities and communities nationwide. HD Live in Schools is made possible by Bank of America.

Continuing its innovative use of electronic media to reach a global audience, the Metropolitan Opera last season introduced Met Player, a new subscription servIce That makes much of the company's extensive video and audio catalog of full-length performances available to the public for the first time online in exceptional, state-of-the-art quality. The new service currently offers over 170 historic audio recordings, and almost 100 full-length opera videos are available, including 24 of the company's acclaimed The Met: Live in HD transmissions, known for their extraordinary sound and picture quality. New content, including HD productions and archival broadcasts, are added monthly.

Metropolitan Opera Radio on SIRIUS XM Radio is a subscription-based audio entertainment service broadcasting an unprecedented number of live performances each week throughout the Met's entire season, as well as rare historical performances, newly restored and remastered, spanning the Met's 78-year broadcast history.

In addition to providing audio recordings through the Met on Rhapsody on-demand service, the Met also presents free live audio streaming of performances on its website once every week during the opera season with support from RealNetworks®.

The company's groundbreaking commissioning program in partnership with New York's Lincoln Center Theater (LCT) provides renowned composers and playwrights with the resources to create and develop new works at the Met and at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater. The Met's partnership with LCT is part of the company's larger initiative to commission new operas from contemporary composers, present modern masterpieces alongside the classic repertory, and provide a venue for artists to nurture their work. Composer Nico Muhly and playwright Craig Lucas recently had their new piece workshopped.

The Met audience development initiatives include Open House Dress Rehearsals, which are free and open to the public; the Arnold and Marie Schwartz Gallery Met, which exhibits contemporary visual art; the immensely successful Agnes Varis and Karl Leichtman Rush Ticket program; and an annual Holiday Presentation for families. This season's special Holiday Presentation is Richard Jones's English-language production of Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, which is given four matinee performances and four evening performance as a way for families to celebrate the holiday season.