[Met Performance] CID:263110
Hänsel und Gretel {191} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/24/1980.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
December 24, 1980
In English


HÄNSEL UND GRETEL {191}
Humperdinck-Wette

Hänsel..................Brenda Boozer
Gretel..................Judith Blegen
Gertrud.................Geraldine Decker
Peter...................Allan Monk
Witch...................Rosalind Elias
Sandman.................Loretta Di Franco
Dew Fairy...............Louise Wohlafka

Conductor...............Richard Woitach

Production..............Nathaniel Merrill
Designer................Robert O'Hearn
Choreographer...........Zachary Solov

Translation by Norman Kelley

Hänsel und Gretel received six performances this season.

Review of Bill Zakariasen in the Daily News

A late, but delightful 'Hansel'

Is nothing sacred? At the Metropolitan Opera Wednesday evening, Engelbert Humperdinck's celebration of innocence, "Hansel and Gretel," only got as far as its Overture before the audience (largely comprised of children) was informed it had to vacate the premises immediately: A bomb scare, of course, but fortunately it proved to be a false alarm and the performance continued after a 45-minute delay. If the threat was made in earnest, it was unforgivable: if it were made as a joke, it was a poor one indeed, especially considering the timing.

The understandable jitters fortunately did not rub off on the cast, which turned in a fine performance. Soprano Judith Blegen and mezzo Brenda Boozer in the title roles were occasionally swamped by the "Meistersinger"-sized orchestration (par for the course in this work), yet they provided engaging characterizations and clean vocalism. Hansel and Gretel's parents held their own in stature and volume, thanks to strong singing by baritone Allan Monk and contralto Geraldine Decker. As usual, the big scene-stealer was the lip-smacking Witch essayed this time by mezzo Rosalind Elias, previously seen here as Hansel and now the first female singer to perform this role at the Met in 32 years - in the meantime tenors and baritones have performed it in drag. Elias relished the part like the gingerbread cookies her character bakes, having a high old time with it and actually singing the notes - but I still would give practically anything hear Birgit Nilsson have a go at this Brünnhilde parody-part.

Richard Woitach conducted with affectionate spirit, coaxing remarkably fine playing from the orchestra. The sensibly witty English translation by Norman Kelley was generally well enunciated by the cast, and the Nathaniel Merrill-Robert O'Hearn Disneyland production remains one of the Met's most scrumptious delights. These delights pretty much made us all forget the momentary fright at the outset, but theories still abounded. As one company spokesperson put it, "I don't think the caller was from the FALN or any other terrorist organization - probably he was just some lonely person who wanted to be noticed on Christmas Eve. Look, this time of the year seems to bring out the screwballs in so many of us."



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