Overview

MOT Premiere! The classic Brothers Grimm fairytale like you’ve never seen it before! With award-winning puppetry by Basil Twist, audiences enjoy a lavish production featuring flying angels, dancing gingerbread and a larger-than-life witch. And Humperdinck’s rich, lyrical score complete’s the magic!

Hansel and Gretel (Hänsel und Gretel)
Opera in three acts
Music by Engelbert Humperdinck
Libretto by Adelheid Wette, based on the Grimm fairy tale
Premiered in Weimar, 1893

This Production
Conducted by Stephen Lord | Directed by Basil Twist
Production design by Basil Twist
Sung in German with projected English supertitle translations
Run time is 2 hours, 15 minutes

Artists

Emily Fons

Hansel

Mezzo-Soprano Emily Fons has made several exciting role and company debuts in recent seasons that have set her apart as a versatile, powerful, and engaging performer. Ms. Fons was hailed by Opera News as one of opera’s rising stars and one of the best singing actresses of her generation, and received a Grammy nomination for her work on Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain.

Ms. Fons has been lauded for her virtuosic abilities in Baroque and Bel Canto repertoire, her winning portrayals of opera’s traditional “trouser roles”, and the dramatic commitment and musicality she brings to modern works. In the past few seasons Ms. Fons has sung with The Berlin Philharmonic, The Santa Fe Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, The International Händel Festspiele, the Cleveland Orchestra, Dallas Opera, San Diego Opera, Opera Omaha, Boston Lyric Opera, the Florentine Opera, Madison Opera, Opéra de Lille, the Ongaku-Juku Festival, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

Emily Fons

Hansel

Deanna Breiwick

Gretel

American soprano Deanna Breiwick, hailed by The New York Times for her “sweet sound and floating high notes” and for being a “vocal trapeze artist,” is enjoying an exciting and diverse career. A series of house and role debuts encompass Ms. Breiwick’s 2018/19 season. She will return to the Metropolitan Opera as a Shadow in the North American premiere of Nico Muhly’s Marnie, conducted by Robert Spano, debut with Michigan Opera Theatre as Gretel in Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel and Rosasharn in Ricky Ian Gordon’s The Grapes of Wrath, debut Adina in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore with Opera Omaha, debut the role of Cunegonde in Candide for a return to Des Moines Metro Opera, and Norina in Don Pasquale for a house debut with Berkshire Opera Festival. Orchestral highlights include a return to the Charleston Symphony for Handel’s Messiah.

Deanna Breiwick

Gretel

Matthew DiBattista

Witch

Described as “brilliant” by Opera News, tenor Matthew DiBattista has performed on both the operatic and concert stage with such conductors as James Conlon, Seiji Ozawa, Keith Lockhart, and Robert Shaw in the United States, Italy, France, and Portugal. He sings the title role in Kamran Ince’s Judgment of Midas, newly released on Albany Records.

Matthew DiBattista

Witch

Mary-Hollis Hundley

Gertrude

Mary-Hollis Hundley, soprano, spent the 2017-18 season making company and role debuts as Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Virginia Opera, Zerlina in Opera on the James’ Don Giovanni, and as a cover for Christine Brewer’s Ariadne auf Naxos at Kentucky Opera. During the summer, she returned to the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis for her second summer as a Gerdine Young Artist, where she covered Susan Graham in the title role of Blitzstein’s Regina. She spent the remainder of the summer as a Resident Artist at Teatro Nuovo, where she covered Jennifer Rowley in the title role of Mayr’s Medea in Corinto. This is Ms. Hundley’s debut with Michigan Opera Theatre, as well as her role debut as Gertrude.

Mary-Hollis Hundley

Gertrude

Russell Braun

Peter

The German-born Canadian baritone, Russell Braun, is the son of Canadian baritone Victor Braun and German mezzo-soprano Eraine Schwing-Braun. He lived in Frankfurt until the age of 17, when his family moved to Canada. He studied piano with John Coveart at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, and later voice with Patricia Kern at the University of Toronto.

Renowned for his luminous voice “capable of the most powerful explosions as well as the gentlest covered notes” (Toronto Star), Russell rightfully claims his place on the concert, opera and recital stages of the world. Possessing a lyric baritone of beauty, flexibility and communicative power, Braun’s large repertoire encompasses the operas of Rameau, Gluck, Purcell, George Frideric Handel, Monteverdi, Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti, Berlioz, Thomas, Charles Gounod, Massenet, Camille Saint-Saëns, Debussy, Strauss and Benjamin Britten. His intelligent and thoughtful portrayals of Chou En-lai, Billy Budd, Prince Andrei, Figaro, Papageno, Count Almaviva, Don Giovanni, Pelléas, Eugene Onegin, and The Traveller have captivated audiences at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, l’Opéra de Paris, the Wiener Staatsoper, the Royal Opera, Covent Garden in London, the Los Angeles Opera, La Scala in Milan, the Salzburg or the Glyndebourne Festival. His orchestral and recital repertoires include two dozen major works and hundreds of songs in German, French, Italian, Russian, and English.

Russell Braun

Peter

Cheyanne Coss

Sandman, Dew Fairy

Soprano Cheyanne Coss is a recent graduate of New England Conservatory, where she performed the roles of Iphigénie in Gluck’s “Iphigénie en Tauride”and Sandrina in Mozart’s “La Finta Giardiniera.” This summer, she will make her San Francisco debut in the role of Aminta in Mozart’s “Il Re Pastore”with the Merola Opera Program. Cheyanne has also performed with Chautauqua Opera, Charleston Symphony Orchestra, and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Cheyanne has won several competitions, including First Place in the William C. Byrd Young Artist Competition, the David Daniels Young Artist Competition and second place in the FAVA Grand Concours Competition. Next season, Cheyanne will make her debut as Pamina in “The Magic Flute”with Opera Grand Rapids and Toledo Opera. As the new Michigan Opera Theatre Studio soprano, she will perform Berta in “The Barber of Seville,” Dew Fairy in “Hansel and Gretel” and Paquette in “Candide.” Cheyanne hails from Eaton Rapids, Mich. and is a proud alumna of Oakland University.

Cheyanne Coss

Sandman, Dew Fairy

Katherine DeYoung

Dew Fairy, Sandman

Mezzo-soprano Katherine DeYoung is a native of Traverse City and is delighted to join the Michigan Opera Theatre Studio Artist program. Recently, Katherine completed her master’s degree at the University of Houston where she performed Isabella in L’Italiana in Algeri, Gertrude in Romeo et Juliette, and Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible. Her favorite role performed is the title role in Carmen with Opera in the Ozarks. During the summer, Katherine joined Santa Fe Opera as a member of the apprentice singer program. This spring with Michigan Opera Theatre, she sang the role of the Old Lady in Candide, and will perform Mae in The Grapes of Wrath. Katherine is a District Winner of the 2018 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and is an alumna of Michigan State University.

Katherine DeYoung

Dew Fairy, Sandman

Stephen Lord

Conductor

Stephen Lord joined Michigan Opera Theatre as Principal Conductor in November 2016, and he will lead the company’s artistic activities through the 2018-19 season.

Opera News named Lord one of the “25 Most Powerful Names in U.S. Opera” (one of four conductors), and he is continually praised for conducting both traditional and contemporary operatic works. For his debut with San Francisco Opera, conducting Rigoletto, one critic observed, “He partnered his singers perfectly and gave everything its proper weight – he was master of the score’s details and the orchestra played superbly for him.” He is currently music director emeritus for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and was formerly the music director of Boston Lyric Opera.

Stephen Lord

Conductor

Basil Twist

Director

Basil Twist is a puppeteer now living in New York. He is the sole American to graduate from the École Supérieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionnette in Charleville-Mezieres, France. Basil’s showmanship was spotlighted in New York by “The Jim Henson International Festival of Puppetry” with his award winning “The Araneidae Show.” Coupled with the critically & popularly praised and multiple award-winning “Symphonie Fantastique,” Twist was revealed as a singular artist of unlimited imagination.

Highlights of Twist’s subsequent work have included “Petrushka” (commissioned by Lincoln Center) and “Dogugaeshi” (The Japan Society), “Behind the Lid” (Silver Whale Gallery) with Lee Nagrin and “Arias with a Twist” (HERE) co-created with nightlife icon Joey Arias. “Symphonie” and these productions have toured throughout the world.

Basil Twist

Director

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Synopsis

ACT I

In the broom-maker’s house. Hansel complains he is hungry. Gretel shows him some milk that a neighbor has given for the family’s supper. The children dance. Their mother returns and wants to know why they have got so little work done. She accidentally spills the milk and chases the children out into the woods to pick strawberries.

Their father, a broom-maker, returns home drunk. He brings out the food he has bought, then asks where the children have gone. The mother tells him that she has sent them into the woods. He tells her about the Witch who lives there, and that the children are in danger. They go out into the woods to look for them.

ACT II

In the woods. Hansel picks strawberries. The children hear a cuckoo singing and eat the strawberries. Soon they have eaten every one. In the sudden silence of the wood, Hansel admits to Gretel that he has lost the way. The children grow frightened. 

The Sandman comes to bring them sleep, sprinkling sand over their eyes. The children say their evening prayer. In a dream, they see 14 angels.

ACT III

The gingerbread house. The Dew Fairy comes to waken the children. Gretel wakes Hansel, and they see the gingerbread house. They do not notice the Witch. The Witch decides to fatten Hansel up and puts a spell on him. The oven is hot. Gretel breaks the Witch’s spell and sets Hansel free. When the Witch asks her to look in the oven, she pretends she doesn’t know how to: the Witch must show her. When the Witch peers into the oven, the children shove her inside and shut the door. The oven explodes. The gingerbread children come back to life. The mother and father find the children, and all express gratitude for their salvation.

—Courtesy Welsh National Opera

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