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For booking or more information, contact Opera Outreach Coordinator Rachel Mink at operaoutreach@jhu.edu

Hansel and Gretel

Hansel and Gretel is the Brothers Grimm fairy-tale by the same name composed by German composer Engelbert Humperdinck. Hansel and Gretel tells the story of siblings Hansel and Gretel who have been sent to forest by their mother and father and become lost and eventually must escape the evil Gingerbread Witch. The 50 minute opera explores the themes of survival and teamwork while portraying the world’s joys and awes from a child’s perspective.

Through modifications and creative revision, the Peabody Opera Department has transformed the original German opera to an English rendition geared towards young audiences. Hansel and Gretel creates an environment for children to become involved and enveloped in the world of opera. The audience is taken on a journey as Hansel and Gretel face the trials and tribulations of being lost in the woods and facing the Evil Gingerbread Witch while learning from each other and growing as both as individuals and as siblings.

Our fully-staged, fully-costumed production features a cartoon-inspired set, and cast of six upper-level students in voice. Originally scored for full orchestra, Peabody Opera Outreach will present the opera with keyboard alone and will prominently feature and encourage audience participation and involvement throughout the production. Hansel and Gretel is appropriate for elementary school-aged children and anyone young at heart.

Educational materials are available upon request.

Performers

TBA

Pianists: TBA

Composer: Englebert Humperdinck

The German composer, Engelbert Humperdinck, produced his first composition after receiving piano lessons when he was only 7. He wrote many pieces for the stage, but his chief reputation rests on his opera Hänsel und Gretel, which was produced at Weimar, 1893.

While in Berlin as head of composition at the Meister-Schule, Humperdinck began work on Hänsel und Gretel after his sister asked him to compose music for a play for her children in 1890. He first started to compose Hänsel und Gretel, based on the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, as a Singspiel consisting of a play with 16 songs and piano accompaniment. A few months later, he presented his fiancèe Hedwig Taxer with Hänsel und Gretel as an engagement present. Quickly realizing the work's potential, Engelbert Humperdinck instead decided to create a full-scale opera, and in January of 1891 he began working on a complete orchestration. Nearly three years later Richard Strauss - who dubbed it "a masterpiece of the highest quality… all of it original, new, and so authentically German" - conducted its premiere. With its highly original synthesis of Wagnerian techniques and traditional German folk songs, Hänsel und Gretel was an instant and overwhelming success. It was such a success that in 1923 it became the first complete opera ever to be broadcast on radio (from Covent Garden, London), and eight years later it was the first to be transmitted live from the Metropolitan Opera. Tragically, it was at about the same time that Humperdinck developed a hearing affliction and remained partially deaf for the rest of his life.
(Bio selections taken from http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Humperdinck-Engelbert.htm)

Director: Catrin Davies

Catrin Davies, director and mezzo soprano, has been an opera professional since 2001. Described by the Baltimore Sun as having “bright vocalism and flawless diction,” she has established herself as a presence on the operatic and concert stage. Born in Washington, DC, and possessing British citizenship, Ms. Davies has lived and performed in the United States, Canada, and the UK.

Ms. Davies believes that directing is a natural extension of performing, and pursued opportunities to explore that craft. In 2007, she started her directing career by assisting director Garnett Bruce in Peabody Opera’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann. That same year, she directed the Old Maid and the Thief for Harbor Opera at the Walters Art Museum, and assistant directed HMS Pinafore at the Young Victorian Theatre Company. After this auspicious beginning, she embarked on a successful regional career. Most recently, Ms. Davies returned to Summer Garden Opera to direct Il barbiere di Siviglia, following on from her success at that company with Faust. She was also selected to be a part of the inaugural class of the Directors' Studio at the Shakespeare Theatre Company, under the mentorship of Michael Kahn. Other recent highlights include: directing The Three Little Pigs, the educational outreach show for Opera Delaware, and assistant directing the world premiere of Bornfield's Camelot Requiem. At Lyric Opera Baltimore, she has directed Jake Heggie’s At the Statue of Venus, and has also directed two outreach programs. At Live Arts Maryland, she has directed South Pacific, Man of La Mancha, The Fantasticks, Fiddler on the Roof, Oklahoma, Secret Garden, and HMS Pinafore, the latter for which she received the following accolade from The Capital: “The staging and directing was handled absolutely brilliantly by Catrin Davies…”

In the academic realm, Ms. Davies is a guest director at the Peabody Conservatory, and has directed their educational outreach show for schools for the past 5 years. She has also been a guest director at Harford Community College, and an adjunct professor at both Peabody and Towson University, teaching and directing music students. She was also on faculty at the Road Scholar program (formerly Elderhostel), where she lectured on a variety of musical topics, particularly operetta. Ms. Davies holds an honors degree in history from McGill University, a Master's degree in Women's Studies from Oxford University, and graduate diplomas from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and the Peabody Conservatory.

Music Director: JoAnn Kulesza

JoAnn Kulesza is presently Musical Director of the Opera Theatre Program at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD. The Peabody Opera Theatre Program produces between six and ten performances a year, serving between 85 and 100 singers. With her years of experience in the professional world, she provides an important aspect of the aspiring professionals’ training. Well versed in Opera’s vast repertoire, she teaches classes in recitative, repertoire and works with collaborative pianists and conductors at the school.

A life-long lover of choral music, Kulesza worked with the renowned Margaret Hillis at the Chicago Symphony Chorus and as assistant to Chorus Master Philip Morehead at the Chicago Lyric Opera. She was chorus master for the Wolf Trap Opera Company for many years and prepared the chorus for Washington National Opera’s Romeo & Juliet in 2004, under Maestro Bertrand de Billy. She presently conducts the Arundel Vocal Arts Society, a chorus of 35-45 members, in two concerts annually, of a wide variety of repertoire; she is in her eighth year as Music Director of this ensemble. Kulesza’s vast experience also includes work with the Western Opera Theatre, Pittsburgh Opera Center, New York Chamber Ensemble, Washington Opera, Baltimore Opera, and Utah Festival Opera.

Since entering the conducting realm, Kulesza has conducted three world premieres and led as well as played continuo for productions of Mozart, Rossini, and Britten. She has worked with some of the most notable conductors in the field – Loren Maazel, George Manahan, Heinz Fricke, Stephen Lord, Margaret Hillis – and is in demand as a clinician and educator around the country. She made her Opera Omaha debut in February 2011, conducting and playing continuo for Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Omaha debut in February 2011, conducting and playing continuo for Mozart’s Don Giovanni. JoAnn also conducts for the Lowveld Chamber Music Association in Nelspruit, South Africa, having premiered there in 2014, returning in May of 2017 to conduct performance of Schubert's Mass in G and Mozart's Requiem. Conducting Carmen in June, 2018, will mark her third collaboration with this organization.

Kulesza earned a Bachelor of Music at Western Michigan University and a Master of Music at Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.