Sarah Mesko (Hansel) and Emily Albrink (Gretel),
Washington National Opera (photo by Scott Suchman)
The score has miles of appeal, championed in its day by Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler, who both conducted it. (Thomas May, one of the best writers on music around, has detailed the work's genesis in excellent program notes.) Considering that this production is intended as a family opera, with the goal of introducing young children to the genre, it made perfect sense to sing it in an English translation, adapted from the Schirmer vocal score. The two leads, Emily Albrink's Gretel and Sarah Mesko's Hansel (both alums of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program), were equally strong, making a finely matched duo in the Evening Prayer. From the current Domingo-Cafritz class, María Eugenia Antúnez was a dark-toned Mother, slightly hard to understand, and Norman Garrett made a boisterous, somewhat overblown Father. Jessica Stecklein brought a pretty, sparkly soprano to the roles of Sandman and Dew Fairy, the latter costumed in a bright pink confection with silver boots and Tinkerbell wings (costumes designed by Timm Burrow).
Anne Midgette, ‘Hänsel’ is a grown-up twist on a childhood favorite (Washington Post, December 24)
Gary Tischler, Gingerbread Witch in 'Hansel and Gretel': O.K. for Kids (The Georgetowner, December 20)
Marie Gullard, Hansel and Gretel takes its place in the holiday season (Washington Examiner, December 6)
This performance will be repeated, in some cases with a cast change, today and tomorrow (December 22 and 23), in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater.