San Diego Opera Presents Hansel & Gretel

Read Our Review

By Courtney Daly-Pavone February 9, 2020

*This article is a 2 minute read.

Hansel & Gretel the timeless Grimm's Fairy Tale was meant to be an opera. It has all the elements: childhood fantasy, action, and happily ever after. 

The San Diego Opera's production of Hansel & Gretel features music written by Engelbert Humperdinck, and it's sweeter than marzipan!

From the moment the curtain rises, the audience is treated to a spellbinding overture by conductor Ari Pelto. You forget you're seated in a 3,000 seat theater. Instead one is transported back to once upon a time, perhaps feeling like you did when you first heard this iconic story at bedtime, and thought twice about accepting candy from strangers.

Kid Friendly Opera

The elaborate, large-scale puppets in this opera are from The Old Trout Puppet Workshop from Vancouver Canada. The whimsical hand-painted sets resemble a pop-up storybook, but don't be fooled, audiences young and old will appreciate this unique production. Director Brenna Corner who also directed Hansel & Gretel for the Vancouver Opera brings this classic to life with the energy only an opera can produce.

The show boasts a stellar cast of opera singers. Mezzo soprano Blythe Gaissert plays Hansel, and soprano Sara Gartland portrays Gretel. Both soprano's weave through the plot seamlessly with their vocal and acting talent. Equally engaging are Hansel and Gretel's parents played by baritone Malcolm MacKenzie and soprano Marcy Stonikas.  When the children's father realizes his kids are in the forest alone at night, the stage grows dark, and there is a spotlight on him as the orchestra comes to a halt. In that moment I feared for the kids and their parents. 

This story is expertly told by gifted artists. Tenor Joel Sorensen plays the witch, and dons a two person puppet costume. He is equal parts scary, charming, and undeniably talented! Soprano Devon Guthrie plays the sandman and snow fairy also utilizing puppetry in her performance.  What a treat to hear the rich tone of her voice! I especially loved the sandman costume which was reminiscent of a Rene Magritte painting.

There are supertitles during the show, a great aid in translation for kids interpreting this opera. It runs about two hours with a twenty minute intermission.

How did this opera fare with young audience members @ The San Diego Civic Theater

My son an avid Minecraft junkie was transfixed in his favorite fairy tale, and at the edge of his seat during the show. When I looked around, every child was quiet, alert, and experiencing great opera. 

What makes this production so special? 

It's a great first opera for children. It was so wonderful to be able to introduce my child to this art form at a young age he appreciated not just the story, but the incredible music, set design, and the ambiance of a night at the opera. My kid can't wait to return to the opera again!

Tickets Start @ $45, and Kids Get 45% Off

3 Performances Left-2/11, 2/14 & 2/16 Don't Miss It!


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