The final opera to be presented in the 2019 Fall Season of the San Francisco Opera (SFO) will be Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. Humperdinck was inspired to write this opera thanks to his sister, Adelheid Wette. She had written songs based on the “Hansel and Gretel” fairy tale (in the version documented by the Brothers Grimm) as a Christmas present for her children. She encouraged Humperdinck to extend those songs into a full-evening opera; and Hansel and Gretel was the result, with Wette providing additional text for the libretto.
The Sandman and the Dew Fairy watch over the sleeping Gretel and Hansel (photograph by Cory Weaver, courtesy of the San Francisco Opera)
Next month Hansel and Gretel will return to the stage of the War Memorial Opera House after an absence of almost two decades, and it will serve as a seasonal offering. Staging will be by Antony McDonald (making his SFO debut) for a co-production with The Royal Opera, resident at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. The libretto will be sung in the English translation by David Pountney, who (unless I am mistaken) provided the English version for the last SFO Hansel and Gretel. The title characters will be sung, respectively, by mezzo Sasha Cooke and soprano Heidi Stober. The cast will also include two Adler Fellows, soprano Natalie Image as the Dew Fairy and mezzo Ashley Dixon as the Sandman. Christopher Franklin will conduct.
There will be eight performances of this production. These will take place at 7:30 p.m. on November 15, 21, and 23 and December 3 and 7 and at 2 p.m. on November 17 and 30 and December 1. All performances will be sung in English with English supertitles. Each performance will be preceded by a Pre-Opera Talk given by Peter Susskind, beginning 55 minutes prior to curtain.
Performances will take place at the War Memorial Opera House at 301 Van Ness Avenue, on the northwest corner of Grove Street. Single tickets are priced from $26 to $398. There is also a facility fee added to the price of the tickets: $2 for all Balcony sections and $3 for all other tickets. Tickets may be purchased online through an event page on the SFO Web site that provides hyperlinks for each performance. Tickets may also be purchased at the Box Office in the outer lobby of the Opera House. Standing room tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on the day of each performance. They are sold for $10, cash only.