If you love opera, timeless fairy tale stories, folksy music, glorious singing and that warm nostalgic feeling you can get, you will love this Hansel Und Gretel. It even surpasses the wonderful 1981 production with Fassbaender, Gruberova, Prey and Jurinac as the best Hansel Und Gretel.
There is so much to like. The opera is wonderful, a simple but well told and timeless story, great characters and beautiful folksy music not just the joyful finale and the "tap tap tap clap clap clap" duet between Hansel and Gretel but my favourite Evening Prayer too.
Visually, this Met production looks spectacular. The sets are so colourful, just looking at the witch's house for example makes your mouth water, and the costumes are beautifully tailored. The picture quality has clarity as does the sound, and the video directing is clever with no odd angles or cheap gimmicks in sight. The orchestra are consistently brilliant, and the conducting positively sparkles just as much as the music.
The effects and staging are also very well done, the best for me being the flying angels, they actually look like real angels. The Witch's So Hop Hop Hop number is both comedic and menacing, both of which I loved, and Evening Prayer brought tears to my eyes. The finale is everything the music promises it to be too, and the various animals that come on stage just adds to the sweetness without going overboard. Also for lovers of the Dream ballet, they are in for an extra treat, it is done to cute and magical effect here.
I cannot praise enough the performances. Frederica Von Stade and Judith Blegen are perfect, both are charming, both sing with lush colour, both make an effort to blend with each other which pays off marvellously and both have fantastic chemistry together. Rosalind Elias is outstanding as the Witch, and Jean Kraft and Michael Devlin are solid as Gertrude and Peter. Diane Kesling and Betsy Nolan sing and act very well and characterfully as Sandman and Dew Fairy.
Overall, note perfect, on par and better even than the 1981 production, and light years above the 2007(?) Met production which was mostly a fiasco. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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