Portland Opera presents Hansel and Gretel

CONTACT: Julia Sheridan, 503-295-3508
download pdf



Hansel and Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck

November 5, 7m, 11, 13, 2010 | Keller Auditorium

A frighteningly delicious feast for children of all ages.


Portland Opera's Hansel and Gretel(Portland, Ore.)—For its second opera of the 2010-11 “Fantasy or Reality?” Portland Opera serves up a visually stunning, English-language production of Humperdinck’s HANSEL AND GRETEL.  The classic fairy tale isn’t just a work for children—all fantasy and fright.  It possesses underlying themes of hunger and abuse that provide a powerful punch that will keep adults riveted to their seats as well.  Recognized as Humperdinck’s best known work, the evocative score will also enchant the young and old alike.  HANSEL AND GRETEL opens November 5 at Keller Auditorium with additional performances on November 7 (matinee), 11 & 13.

Inspired by the theme of hunger in the opera, with food a metaphor throughout the production, Portland Opera will collect non-perishable goods for Oregon Food Bank at every performance of HANSEL AND GRETEL.

“Visually and conceptually this might be our most compelling season ever,” says Portland Opera General Director Christopher Mattaliano.  “And the delicate edge between fantasy and reality is examined even more closely in this opera.  It is a fairy tale at heart,” he continues, “but this production doesn’t shy away from the darker elements of the famous Brothers Grimm story. And the music is astonishingly beautiful from beginning to end.”

Following the familiar bedtime tale, Hansel and Gretel, after being naughty and banished from their home, find themselves lost in the woods after an afternoon of strawberry picking.  Hungry and tired, they fall asleep and “wake” to find themselves on the threshold of the greatest adventure of their lives.  After they have had their fill of sugary treats, they find that they are in fact next on the menu.

In a wildly imaginative production with a decidedly modern edge, Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel features a mezzo soprano playing Hansel and a tenor as the Witch—a sort of operatic Julia Child channeling Dame Edna, complete with Mixmaster.  Based on a Brothers Grimm fairy tale, this production is not afraid to realize the sinister aspects of the story.  Appropriately dark, sweet and scary in equal measure, it has been very well received by children at both the Metropolitan Opera and Welsh National Opera. 

The sets and costumes, designed originally for the Welsh National Opera, were recently used by the Metropolitan Opera and featured on their HD broadcast. The New York Times called the production “a treat.”

The cast features several exciting Company debuts, including soprano MAUREEN MCKAY, as Gretel, noted by Opera Today for her “lovely clear voice, and her perfect acting" and mezzo-soprano SANDRA PIQUES EDDY, as Hansel, of whom The New York Times said recently, "The brightest sparkle belonged to Ms. Piques Eddy, a swan-necked mezzo with fine technique, a range of colors from honeyed to bright and charm to burn."  Also debuting with the Company is baritone WESTON HURT as the Father. Opera News said “Hurt produced a remarkably suave sound and … his acting proved every bit as nuanced and assured.” ELIZABETH BYRNE (title role in Aida 1999, Senta in The Flying Dutchman 2007) returns to sing Mother, and Metropolitan Opera regular, tenor ALLAN GLASSMAN (Narraboth in Salome 1990), sings the Witch. ARI PELTO (The Magic Flute 2007) returns to the podium, with Stage Director BENJAMIN DAVIS making his Company debut.  DAVIS recently directed the production’s 2008 revival for the Welsh National Opera, which The Guardian proclaimed “vies with the best” and The Times called “Wickedly entertaining, entertainingly wicked.”  The sets and costumes originated at Welsh National Opera, and recently appeared on the Metropolitan Opera stage.


Sandra Piques Eddy *
Maureen McKay *
Elizabeth Byrne
Weston Hurt *
The Witch
Allan Glassman
Dew Fairy
Jennifer Forni †
Sandman Daryl Freedman †

Ari Pelto
Stage Director
Benjamin Davis *
Original Production
Richard Jones *
Set & Costume Designer
John Macfarlane *
Lighting Designer
Gary Marder *
Original Lighting DesignerJennifer Tipton *

With the Portland Opera Chorus and Orchestra

* Portland Opera debut
† Portland Opera Studio Artist

For video footage, musical excerpts, synopsis and detailed cast bios visit www.portlandopera.org.


Music:Engelbert Humperdinck
Libretto:Adelheid Wette
Lyrics:Sung in English with English text projected above the stage.
World Premiere:Weimar, Hoftheater, December 1893
Portland Opera Premiere: 
December 1972


PERFORMANCES:           November 5, 7m, 11, 13, 2010
All performances begin at 7:30pm, with the exception of the 2:00pm matinee on November 7.

(Calendar Editors Kindly Note)


In its ongoing quest to make Opera as accessible as possible, Portland Opera has a robust schedule of events designed to explore the many facets of Hansel and Gretel.


Help Portland Opera Fight Hunger!
Did you know that 240,000 people a month depend on emergency food boxes through the Oregon Food Bank Network? Please help Portland Opera and Oregon Food Bank eliminate hunger in Oregon ... because no one should be hungry. Bring your non-perishable food donation to any performance of Hansel and Gretel at Keller Auditorium.  Collection bins will be placed at the entrances to Keller Auditorium.


Reel Opera Film Series

In a new partnership with the Northwest Film Center, film buffs and opera aficionados alike will enjoy a film before each opera production.  Not designed to share filmed versions of actual operas, this series will present a film that is related to the production in some interesting way.

11/01/10    7pm | Whitsell Auditorium, Portland Art Museum | $9


BABETTE’S FEAST, directed by Gabriel Axel

In a remote Danish fishing village in the late 19th century, two aging sisters, Filippa and Martine, devotees of a strict Christian sect, take in Babette, a French woman escaping war in Paris, as their housekeeper and cook. One day, after 14 years of service, Babette wins the lottery and asks to prepare a sumptuous feast for the sisters and their fellow parishioners in gratitude for their kindness. The thought of such decadence makes the faithful fear for their souls, and though they accept Babette’s invitation, they vow not to show any pleasure. But in one of the great sensory sequences captured on film, their resolve fades as they are presented with course after course of gastronomical delights. Through Babette’s transcendent culinary artistry, they discover that food is more than mere sustenance and reestablish their bonds of love and fellowship. Portland Opera’s production of Hansel and Gretel reinterprets these themes into a deliciously twisted tale.

Destination Opera: From Music to Psyche 

A unique partnership with the Oregon Psychoanalytic Center, Destination Opera explores the hidden subtexts of each opera this season. Nancy Winters, MD, joins Alexis Hamilton, Manager of Education and Outreach, to debate and discuss Pagliacci and Carmina Burana.
11/12/10  7:00pm | Sherman Clay Pianos | 131 NW 13th Ave., Portland, OR 97209.  Free


Hansel and Gretel Previews

10/28/10  Hansel and Gretel preview on “Northwest Previews,” All Classical 89.9 fm at 6pm.
10/30/10Christopher Mattaliano hosts a one hour radio preview of Hansel and Gretel
10/30/10Hansel and Gretel preview, Salem Public Library (585 Liberty St. SE) in Loucks Auditorium, 2:30pm Free!
10/31/10Hansel and Gretel preview, Multnomah County Central Library, 2pm, Free!

Opera Insights

These free and informative sessions, led by musicologist Bob Kingston, focus on the music and history behind the
evening’s opera in ways that make the evening’s performance even more satisfying.
1 hour prior to each performance.  First Balcony Level.  Free.

Back Talk

Immediately after each opera performance, audiences are invited to join General Director
Christopher Mattaliano and an interesting variety of guests that will include fresh-from-their-dressing-room
performers, directors and conductors for a 20-30 minute Q&A. 
Free. Orchestra Level.




Friday, Thursday, Saturday performances at 7:30pm, Sunday Matinee* at 2:00pm
Keller Auditorium, SW 3rd & Clay


*Sunday Matinee - Special Family Pricing
        Buy an adult ticket, get a child's ticket FREE!
        Offer Valid for the Sunday, November 7 matinee only.


Regular tickets start at $20.00 (while they last) and can be purchased:

BY PHONE:    Portland Opera Box Office, 503-241-1802, Toll-free 866-739-6737,
                      (Mon – Fri, 9:00am – 5:00pm).
                      Ticketmaster, 800-982-ARTS (days, evenings, and weekends).

ONLINE:        www.ticketmaster.com 

IN-PERSON:  Portland Opera Box Office, 211 SE Caruthers St. (just south of OMSI, off Water Ave.)                                          Mon – Fri, 9:00am – 5:00pm.
                      Ticketmaster outlets. 
                      Portland Center for the Performing Arts (SW Broadway & Main).

GROUPS:       10 or more save up to 20% by calling Group Sales at 503-295-3509.

6:30 RUSH:    Students/Military, $10 per ticket, Seniors $20 per ticket, 1 hour prior to show only, all
                       available unsold seats. 1 ticket per person, valid ID required.


More information about tickets and the production—including cast bios, informative articles, video clips and interviews—can be found at www.portlandopera.org.


# # #