[Met Performance] CID:212490

New production (Hänsel und Gretel)

La Ventana
Hänsel und Gretel
Metropolitan Opera House, Mon, November 6, 1967

Debut : Lucia Sciorsci, Rudolph Kuntner

In English

La Ventana (6)
Hans Christian Lumbye
Patricia Heyes

Howard Sayette

Silvia Grinvalds

Lucia Sciorsci [Debut]

Donald Mahler

Jeremy Ives

Jan Mickens

Phillip Rice

Lawrence Eddington

David Milnes

Mirror Dance
Diana Levy

Pas de Trois
Carolyn Martin

Pas de Trois
Naomi Marritt

Pas de Trois
Ivan Allen

Franz Allers

Robert O'Hearn

Lighting Designer
Rudolph Kuntner [Debut]

Auguste Bournonville

Hans Brenaa

Hänsel und Gretel (150)
Engelbert Humperdinck | Adelheid Wette
Rosalind Elias

Teresa Stratas

Lili Chookasian

William Walker

Karl Dönch

Lilian Sukis

Dew Fairy
Karan Armstrong

Nathaniel Merrill

Robert O'Hearn

Lighting Designer
Jean Rosenthal

Zachary Solov

Choreography realized by Hans Brenaa
La Ventana received twelve performances this season.
Translation by Norman Kelley
Production of Hänsel und Gretel a gift of the Gramma Fisher Foundation , Marshalltown, Iowa
Hänsel und Gretel received twelve performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Irving Kolodin in the Saturday

A Happy "Hansel and Gretel"

The best thing about the revival of Humperdinck's "Hansel and Gretel" at the Metropolitan is that it is just that: Humperdinck's "Hansel and Gretel." No sophistications, no updating, no attempt to make it anything other than what it is: a delightfully diverting retelling of the old fairy tale of the babes, the woods, the witch and her undoing. It is, in short, a good corrective to current conditions in which the femme fatale and the Bad Guy are too often odds-on favorites to come out on top. The Witch gets it in the end, which is, after all, as - and where - she deserves it.

Inasmuch as Rudolf Bing would be the recipient of the blame were it otherwise, he should be given a handsome share of the credit for seeing to it that it is Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel that Robert O'Hearn has artfully designed and Nathaniel Merrill has simply and sensitively staged. The curtain rise invites the eye to an inner proscenium garlanded by sugar twists in tempting array: Hansel is discovered in a kind of duplex (hayloft) over the main floor of his parents' shabby but spotless hut; the angels come down, as they properly should, from above, as the Witch's rookery comes up from the subterranean regions as it, too, should; and there is a magnificent oven which explodes with an even more magnificent roar at the proper moment, Though Disney should have gotten around to such a staging, but didn't, O'Hearn has honored his memory with some Disney-like spooks in the forest scene, while adding Humperdinck's to the list of composers (Wagner, Strauss, Saint-Saëns, etc.) whose shades should be grateful for having so talented and resourceful a collaborator. Whether on the ground or in the air (all the supernatural beings fly, of course) this is a "Hansel and Gretel" full of fantasy, fun, and the kind of freshness that makes the old feel young and the young resigned to getting old.

As embellished by the carefully contrived lighting of Jean Rosenthal, this staging of "Hansel and Gretel" is assured the favor of those who go to "see" the opera. Despite some lethargic tempi by conductor Franz Allers, it is also a treat for those who go to hear it as well. For the cast under his direction is the kind of evenly balanced ensemble that composers, conductors, and listeners hear about, but rarely hear. In the instance of the sister and brother, the audience is being offered a pair of performers whose like in these roles has not been heard hereabouts for considerably more than twenty years.

For Teresa Stratas, Gretel is a waking dream of wish fulfillment come true: a part in which her diminutive size is an asset, not a liability. She has moved in on this opportunity to apply all the dramatic and musical impulses in her nature (and they are considerable) to evolving a character study which is as charming to see as it is gratifying to hear. There have been small-sized sopranos who were engaging in the action of Gretel (Nadine Conner and Queena Mario especially), but they had no part of the vocal output of Stratas, who combines a maximum of power in a minimum of size. This paradox, plus the aptitude she has shown in moving her psychic being back a score of years to induce a childlike state of mind and body, are the elements of an artistic achievement as great as creating a fine Tosca or memorable Aida.

For Rosalind Elias, Hansel is not so exclusive a triumph: She has achieved that rare moment of fulfillment at least once before, as Erika in Barber's "Vanessa." It is the measure of her present resources that the new achievement takes in requirements as different as imaginable from the previous one. As well as suppressing most of her latent (and some not so latent) traces of femininity, Elias has contrived to suggest a good deal of the bumptious boyishness that Hansel demands. A lot of this has to do with posture (spine straight, shoulders back) and facial play (cheekbones highlighted, lips mostly parted), but it highlighted, with a mental attitude that has her in the part from first to last. Merrill deserves a full share of credit for both illusions, but his pupils have been both apt and diligent. As the music of Hansel lies squarely in the middle of Elias's richest register, there are minutes at a time in which Stratias (to blend their names as they do their voices) is the source of the most beautiful sounds currently to be heard at the Metropolitan.

William Walker is a proper Peter (father), Lili Chookasian a worriedly involved Gertrude (mother), and both Lilian Sukis and Karen Armstrong have the soothing sounds for their roles (Sandman and Dewfairy). For the Witch, this production reverts to the old tradition of a male performer, in this instance the artful Karl Dönch. He is, obviously, a mittel-Europa Witch come to an enchanted wood where everybody else speaks perfect English and whose rhyming of "sus-peecious" and "de-lee-scions" is cause enough for consignment to the fiery furnace. In the aggregate, the long-missed, warmly welcome restoration of Humperdinck's lovable score engages the resources of the Metropolitan to their fullest, meaning that it is operatic theater worthy of a first-rank operatic theater.

Costume designs by Robert O'Hearn.

Photographs of cast of Hänsel und Gretel by Louis Mélançon/Metropolitan Opera.

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