San Diego Opera's Season Continues Next Month with HANSEL AND GRETEL

By: Jan. 08, 2020
San Diego Opera's Season Continues Next Month with HANSEL AND GRETEL

San Diego Opera's 2019-2020 mainstage season continues with Engelbert Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, which opens on Saturday, February 8, 2020 at the San Diego Civic Theatre for four performances. Additional performances are February 11, 14, and 16 (matinee), 2020. This family-friendly, fully-staged, production of Hansel and Gretel marks the welcome return of mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert, last heard as Hannah After in 2017's As One, as Hansel and soprano Sara Gartland, last heard as Musetta in 2015's La bohème, as Gretel. They will be joined by returning baritone Malcolm MacKenzie, last heard as Schaunard in 2015's La bohème, as the Father and returning tenor Joel Sorensen, last heard as Pong in 2018's Turandot, as the Witch. Making exciting Company debuts are sopranos Marcy Stonikas as the Mother and Devon Guthrie as the Dew Fairy/Sandman. Conductor Ari Pelto makes his Company debut leading the San Diego Symphony from the podium and stage director Brenna Conner will stage the production. This is a new production for San Diego Opera audiences from Vancouver Opera. This production uses many life-sized puppets in the style of Japanese bunraku puppetry. The puppet design is by Old Trout Puppet Workshop.

in English adapted from the original German libretto, Hansel and Gretel is based on the Germanic fairy tale about two children lost in the woods and captured by a cannibalistic witch. The children are able to outwit her and return home to their father. Hansel and Gretel will delight young and old with its enchanting music, whimsical visuals, and an instantly familiar story.

These performances of Hansel and Gretel will be performed in English with English text projected above the stage. This will be the third time the opera has been performed by the Company with additional performances occurring in 1999 and 1984.

The sets and costumes were designed by Old Trout Puppet Workshop. The Lighting Designer is Thomas C. Hase.

Hansel and Gretel will have a radio broadcast on Saturday, June 13, 2020 on KPBS radio, 89.5 FM (97.7 FM Calexico) and online at

The Cast

Blythe Gaissert, Hansel

American mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert made her San Diego Opera debut as Hannah After in 2017's As One. Recent engagements include Hannah After with Opera Colorado, Mother Marie in Dialogues of the Carmelites for Des Moines Metro Opera, Maddalena in Rigoletto with Lyrique en Mer Festival, Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus with Sarasota Opera, the Verdi Requiem with Duluth Symphony, workshop performances at American Opera Projects and the world premiere at the Brooklyn Academy Of Music of As One, Hansel in Hansel and Gretel for Tulsa Opera, and the title role of Carmen with Lake George Opera. On the concert stage, she has appeared with the Asheville Symphony Orchestra in El Amor Brujo, Cincinnati Symphony for Zemlinsky's Psalm 83, Colonial Symphony in Candide, Florence Symphony and the Garden State Philharmonic for Handel's Messiah, and World Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. She has participated in a number of notable programs for young artists, including San Francisco Opera's Merola Program, Cincinnati Opera, Lake George Opera, Sarasota Opera, Aspen Opera Theatre Centre. She is the 2010 Winner of the First Prize of the National Opera Association.

Sara Gartland, Gretel

American soprano Sara Gartland made her Company debut in 2015 as Musetta in La bohème. Notable appearances include the title role of Jenufa and Juliette in Romeo and Juliette for Des Moines Metro Opera, Roselinde in Die Fledermaus, Violetta in La traviata, and Curley's Wife in Of Mice and Men with Utah Opera, the title role of Rusalka for Arizona Opera and Des Moines Metro Opera, Marzelline in Fidelio with Opera Omaha, Adina in The Elixir of Love with Austin Lyric Opera, Josephine in HMS Pinafore with Arizona Opera, and Gretel with Opera San Jose. As a member of the prestigious Merola and Adler Fellow programs with San Francisco Opera, Ms. Gartland sang numerous roles, including Barbarina in The Marriage of Figaro, Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Micaëla in Carmen, Pat/Ann in the world premiere of Heart of a Soldier, Gerhilde in Die Walküre, and Suzel in L'amico Fritz. On the concert stage, Ms. Gartland has sung Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the Elmhurst Symphony, Carmina burana with the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra, and debuted the song cycle Four Hardy Songs by Pablo Ortiz with UC Davis Symphony Orchestra.

Malcolm MacKenzie, Father

American baritone Malcolm MacKenzie first performed with San Diego Opera as Marullo in Rigoletto in 2002, returned in 2005 as Escamillo in Carmen, in 2008 as Zurga in The Pearl Fishers, in 2009 as Marullo in Rigoletto and Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, in 2010 and 2015 as Schaunard in La bohème, in 2011 as Gregorio in Romeo and Juliet, 2012 as Captain Gardiner in Moby-Dick, Hortensio in The Daughter of the Regiment and the Second Tempter/Second Knight in Murder in the Cathedral in 2013, and in 2014 as Sgt. Belcore in The Elixir of Love. Recent engagements include Roger Chillingworth in Opera Colorado's The Scarlet Letter, Stubb in Moby-Dick with Los Angeles Opera, Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor with Eugene Opera, Dancaïre in Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera, George in Of Mice and Men with Phoenicia Festival, Giorgio Germont in La traviata with Virginia Opera, the title role in Simon Boccanegra with Kentucky Opera, Iago in Otello with Nashville Opera, Count di Luna in Il trovatore with Arizona Opera, Alfio/Tonio in Cavalleria rusticana/Pagliacci with Arizona Opera, and Jack Rance in La fanciulla del West with Nashville Opera. On the concert stage, Mr. MacKenzie has performed frequently as the baritone soloist for Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, most recently with Los Angeles' New West Symphony, the Symphony Orchestra of the University of California, Davis and the Savannah Symphony. He has also appeared with the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the Pacific Chorale, the Los Angeles Mozart Orchestra, and the Madison Symphony.

Marcy Stonikas, Mother

San Diego Opera debut. American soprano Marcy Stonikas is a graduate of the Young Artist Program at Seattle Opera, she performed the roles of Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, and the title role in Ariadne auf Naxos. She was First Prize winner in the Wagner Division of the 2013 Gerda Lissner Foundational Vocal Competition, and was a finalist in Seattle Opera's 2014 International Wagner Competition. Notable appearances include the title role in Tosca for Arizona Opera and Opera Santa Barbara, the High Priestess in Aida, Magda Sorel in Menotti's The Consul, and Gertrude for Seattle Opera, Senta in The Flying Dutchman for Cincinnati Opera, the title role of Turandot with Atlanta Opera, Cincinnati Opera, and Opera Naples, Ariadne at the Berkshire Opera Festival, Leonore in Fidelio with the Princeton Festival and the Vienna Volksoper, Gerhilde in Die Walküre and Third Norn in Götterdämmerung with Washington National Opera, Donna Anna with Opera Santa Barbara, the title role of Salome for Utah Opera, Donna Anna, Antonia in The Tales of Hoffmann, and Rosaura in Wolf-Ferrari's Le donne curiose with Wolf Trap Opera Company, and Irene and Mary in the American premiere of Jerry Springer - the Opera at the Bailiwick Repertory Theatre in Chicago. She is a recipient of the Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Shoshana Foundation, winner of the 2009 Elgin Opera Vocal Competition, and was a winner of the 2006 International Meistersinger Competition.

Joel Sorensen, Witch

American tenor Joel Sorensen made his San Diego Opera debut as Curley in Of Mice and Men in 1999, returning as Camp Williams in Cold Sassy Tree in 2001, Andres in Wozzeck in 2007, Rodriguez in Don Quixote in 2009 and 2014, Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet in 2010, Pang in Turandot and Valzacchi in Der Rosenkavalier in 2011, 2013 as the First Tempter/First Knight in Murder in the Cathedral and Beppe in Pagliacci, Spoletta in 2016's Tosca, Dr. Caius in Falstaff in 2017, and Pong in Turandot last season. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 2000 in Samson and Delilah, returning for Sly, Madama Butterfly, Der Rosenkavalier, War and Peace, The Barber of Seville, Tosca and The Magic Flute. He made his debut with New York City Opera as Monostatos in The Magic Flute, returning in Madama Butterfly, Falstaff, Turandot, The Marriage of Figaro, Prince Igor, La rondine, The Seven Deadly Sins and Margaret Garner. Other appearances include Vitek in The Markropulos Case, Incredibile in Andrea Chenier, The Doctor in The Fall of the House of Usher, and Balthasar Zorn in Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg for San Francisco Opera, King Herod in Salome with Florentine Opera, Pedrillo in Entführung aus dem Serail for Atlanta Opera and Mime in Siegfried for Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh and Longborough Festival. Other companies with which he has sung include Seattle Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Portland Opera and Palm Beach Opera.

Devon Guthrie, Dew Fairy/Sandman

San Diego Opera debut. Notable roles by American soprano Devon Guthrie include Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro for English National Opera, Mary Johnson in the world premiere of Fellow Travelers at Cincinnati Opera, Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby at the New England Conservatory and Tanglewood, First Lady in The Magic Flute with Opera Philadelphia, Chocholka in The Cunning Little Vixen for New York Philharmonic, Bubikopf in Der Kaiser von Atlantis with Central City Opera, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni at the Tanglewood Music Festival, and Donna Elvira, Sidonie in Armide, Drusilla in L'incoronazione di Poppea and Laurie in The Tender Land at Juilliard. Other recent appearances include Pamina in The Magic Flute at English National Opera, Pulcheria in Riccardo Primo for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Marzelline in Fidelio and Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus at Santa Fe Opera, Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro at the Saito Kinen Festival, Konstanze in Abduction from the Seraglio at Kentucky Opera, and the Brahms Requiem with the Madison Symphony. A dedicated recitalist and contemporary music interpreter, she has appeared several times at the Opera America Salon and has performed pieces such as Lonely Child by Claude Vivier; 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird by Lukas Foss, Schubert's Der Hirt auf dem Felsen, and Orpheus and Euridice by Ricky Ian Gordon. She has won several awards and prizes in competitions such as the Gerda Lissner Competition, Houston Grand Opera Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers, Licia Albanese Competition and Liederkranz. She was also an apprentice at the Santa Fe Opera and Tanglewood Music Festival.

Brenna Corner, Director

San Diego Opera debut. Canadian stage director Brenna Corner has worked as a director, actor, singer, choreographer, and fight director across Canada, the United States and Europe. Past directing projects include Hansel and Gretel for Vancouver Opera, Sweeney Todd for New Orleans Opera, La Clemenza di Tito and Giulio Cesare for Manitoba Underground Opera, Turn of the Screw, Suor Angelica/Gianni Schicchi, and Don Giovanni for Accademia Europa dell'Opera, Indiana University's Opera Workshop (2012 & 2013), and 1791: Mozart Finale (Prince George Symphony Orchestra). Past assistant directing projects include: Macbeth for Shakespeare in Action, Otello, The Flying Dutchman, and L'italiana in Algeri for Calgary Opera, The Marriage of Figaro for Vancouver Summer Opera Studio, The Velveteen Rabbit for The Little Opera Company. Past roles include: Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth. She is a member of Fight Directors Canada and has choreographed many fights for both opera and theatre. She has a degree in music from the Universtiy of Manitoba, and has studied theatre at both Grant MacEwan College and The British American Drama Academy.

Ari Pelto, Conductor

San Diego Opera debut. Conductor Ari Pelto is the Music Director of Opera Colorado. At the age of 24 he was appointed Assistant Conductor at the Spoleto Festival and has gone on to conduct on stages worldwide. His international appearances include symphonic performances with the Bochumer Philharmoniker, productions of The Marriage of Figaro and Falstaff at New National Theatre of Tokyo, and Faust at the Teatro Nacional Sucre in Quito, Ecuador. In 2004 he made his highly-praised debut with New York City Opera conducting La traviata, after which he became a regular guest conductor, returning for productions of Madama Butterfly, La bohème, and Carmen. In 2015, Pelto was named Opera Colorado's first ever Music Director, where he has conducted acclaimed performances of Don Giovanni, Madama Butterfly, Aida, and The Scarlet Letter. Other notable highlights include Aida at Utah Symphony and Opera, La Voix Humaine and Gianni Schicchi at Chicago Opera Theater, A Streetcar Named Desire and Salome at Virginia Opera, The Rake's Progress at Portland Opera, Rigoletto, Don Pasquale, The Barber of Seville and Don Giovanni at Opera Memphis where he serves as Principal Guest Conductor, La bohème at Opera Theatre of St. Louis, The Cunning Little Vixen at Chautauqua, Rusalka and La bohème at Boston Lyric Opera, Romeo and Juliette at Minnesota Opera, The Magic Flute, The Marriage of Figaro and Hansel and Gretel at Portland Opera and Hansel and Gretel at Utah Opera. From 2000-2002 he was Assistant Conductor of the Florida West Coast Symphony (now the Sarasota Symphony). In addition to conducting over 30 concerts in Sarasota, Pelto also was a frequent guest with the Florida Orchestra and the Toledo Symphony and led tours of the Western Opera Theatre (the touring company of San Francisco Opera) conducting La bohème and Così fan tutte in over 20 States. He regularly works with leading conservatories and young artist programs including The Juilliard School, The Curtis Institute, Manhattan School of Music and Oberlin Conservatory and the Young Artist Programme at Covent Garden's Royal Opera House. With San Francisco Opera's Merola Program, he conducted the 2014 Grand Finale as well as productions of Così fan tutte and The Rape of Lucretia. At Wolf Trap Opera, he inaugurated a new production of The Marriage of Figaro and led Don Giovanni.

Old Trout Puppet Workshop, Puppet, Costume, Scenic Design

San Diego Opera debut. The Old Trout Puppet Workshop is a puppet theatre company, founded on a ranch in southern Alberta in 1999. The Trouts now travel the world, performing at festivals that celebrate the art of the extraordinary. The Old Trout Puppet Workshop is dedicated to making professional puppet theatre, for both children and adults. The Trouts explore the outer edges of the puppet medium, and create original, unique, and exuberant art. An Old Trout show strives for delightful allegory, joyful tragedy, and purity of spirit. The company has written, designed, built, and performed the following plays: Ignorance, The Erotic Anguish of Don Juan, Famous Puppet Death Scenes, The Unlikely Birth of Istvan, Beowulf, The Tooth Fairy, The Last Supper of Antonin Careme, Pinocchio, The Ice King, and Jabberwocky. Filmography includes Comedia Moderna, for Canada's cinematic underground, funded in part by the Bravo television network. The Feist video Honey, Honey features the work of the Old Trouts. Founding members are Judd Palmer, Peter Balkwill and Steve Kenderes.

Thomas C. Hase, Lighting Designer

American-born lighting designer, Thomas Hase, made his Company debut in 2015 with La bohème and Don Giovanni, and returned to light 2018's The Marriage of Figaro. He has earned both national and international recognition as a lighting designer who is known for dynamic designs in opera, new theatrical productions and avant-garde dance. His design for the Tony-Award winning revival of Company on Broadway received critical acclaim. He has worked at many of the major opera houses in the United States including: Los Angeles Opera, New York City Opera, BAM Next Wave, Seattle Opera, The Minnesota Opera, The Dallas Opera, Florida Grand Opera, The Goodspeed Opera, The Portland Opera, New Orleans Opera, and Boston Lyric Opera. He has also worked extensively at the regional theaters in the United States. His designs have lit the stages at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Center Stage Theatre, Alliance Theatre, The Dallas Theater Center, The Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Maine State Music Theater, Syracuse Stage and Geva Theatre. As lighting designer with Ping Chong + Company his work was seen worldwide. He has worked at theaters and opera houses in Europe, Canada, South America and Asia, including: The Finnish, Columbian, Dutch National Operas, Opera North, The Canadian Opera Company, Malmö Opera in Sweden, Opera de Marseille, Staatstheater Kassel, Theater Erfurt, The Bavarian State Opera, The Vancouver Opera, The Singapore Arts Festival, and Tokyo Metro Arts Center. In 2010, he was on the original design team for the world premiere of Rufus Wainwright's opera Prima Donna at Sadler's Wells in London, which was later produced by New York City Opera and at The Luminato Festival in Toronto. As resident lighting designer for Stadttheater Giessen in Germany, he produced over one hundred designs for theater, opera and ballet. Concurrent with his many freelance projects, he is the resident lighting designer and director the Cincinnati Opera Summer Festival.

Performance Schedule

Saturday February 8, 2020 7:30 PM

Tuesday February 11, 2020 7:30 PM

Friday February 14, 2020 7:30 PM

Sunday February 16, 2020 2:00 PM

Get Connected

Pre-Opera Lectures

These 30-minute informative lectures for the main stage operas take place in the Civic Theatre one hour prior to every performance and offer wonderful insights into the production audience members are about to see. These lectures are free to all ticket holders.

Post-Opera Talkbacks

Join the cast, crew, musicians and artists right after the performance of the main stage operas for an engaging, entertaining and informative Q&A session moderated by a San Diego Opera staff member. These talk-backs are held in the Civic Theatre and are free to all ticket holders.

Purchasing Tickets

Single tickets start at $45 for all mainstage performances. Single tickets start at $35 for all d?"tour Series operas. One Amazing Night tickets start at $45. Children prices exist, please visit or call 619.533.7000 for more information.

Senior citizen discounts of 15% are available to the Main Stage series on Tuesday and Friday subscription packages. Senior citizen discounts of 15% are available to the d?"tour Series on Saturday subscription packages.

Military discounts (active and retired) of 50% are available to the Main Stage series on Tuesday and Friday subscription packages. Military discounts of 50% are available to the d?"tour Series on Saturday subscription packages.

For information about tickets please visit or call 619.533.7000


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