November 29, 2022
Get to know: Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel
The Brothers Grimm fairytale of two brave children lost in the forest is one of the most enchanting stories ever told. How much more wonderful it is when accompanied by Humperdinck’s music!
Here are clever Gretel and incorrigibly mischievous Hansel, sent by their irate mother to fetch berries, only to find themselves unable to retrace their steps back home when it gets dark. At night, the pair are terrified by all the strange sights and sounds, but a beautiful dream sees them through into the morning. Finding themselves in front of a full-size house made of candy and gingerbread, they’re lured into it by its owner. But she’s a witch, and she wants nothing more than to bake the two of them in her oven! Of course, she gets her comeuppance at the hands of Hansel and Gretel, resulting in one of the happiest of all fairytale happy endings.
This score is glorious, full of glowing warmth and irresistible vitality. What a joy it will be for audiences to hear again the sumptuous overture to the children’s endearing duets, their exquisite and justly famous “Evening Prayer,” the rollicking “Witch’s Ride,” and the heartwarming finale.
Richard Jones’s production, a smashing success at Lyric in both 2001/02 and 2012/13, is returning to enchant audiences once again with its astonishing theatrical insight and imagination. Never before has the sheer hunger of these two children been more evident. In no other production can you see them portrayed so convincingly, with all their impatience and coltish energy as well as their sweetness and curiosity. The forest scene is nothing short of miraculous, with Jones’s vision of the dream ballet—a sumptuous dinner prepared especially for the children—presented with an originality and imagination you’ll never forget. And then comes the witch, who concocts nightmarishly awful desserts in her scary, industrial-strength kitchen!
The principal trio of artists in this production includes three artists who have established themselves with major American and European companies in a very wide variety of repertoire: Heidi Stober (Gretel), entrancing lyric-soprano star of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, who charmed the Lyric audience with her spunky Dalinda in Ariodante; rich-voiced lyric mezzo Samantha Hankey (Hansel), debuting at Lyric after triumphing at Munich’s prestigious Bavarian State Opera; Audience favorite Jill Grove (Witch), who has sung 14 roles with the company since 2003, including the Witch in Lyric's 2012/13 production of Hansel and Gretel; the powerfully dramatic voices of soprano Alexandra LoBianco (Mother) and baritone Alfred Walker (in his debut as the Father) will add further luster to this terrific cast.
Hansel and Gretel marks the return to the Lyric podium of our own Sir Andrew Davis, music director from 2000 to 2021. Humperdinck’s grandiose score is made to order for Sir Andrew, who has earned huge acclaim leading this work at the Metropolitan Opera. His brilliant command of the orchestra will combine memorably with his innate sense of theater and his matchless humor.
January 25 - February 5, 2023
Hansel and Gretel
Hansel and Gretel
When this universally cherished production debuted 20 years ago, it captivated Chicago audiences. It did the same in 2012, and this season it returns again by popular demand. This rivetingly modern, astonishingly inventive view of the Brothers Grimm’s fairytale features an eye-popping production that does full justice to Humperdinck’s glorious score. You’ll be rooting for Hansel and Gretel at every moment in their battle against the witch in the massive, industrial-strength kitchen, and you’ll be moved by the “Dream Ballet.” From the exquisite “Evening Prayer” to the uproarious “Witch’s Ride,” this ever-fresh, whimsical masterpiece is packed with musical gems that make it a wonderful introduction to opera for audiences of all ages.