Bringing Back The Magic Flute and Hansel and Gretel as The Met Celebrates the Holidays

A scene from Act II of Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel” with Alice Coote as Hansel and Christine Schäfer as Gretel. Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera)


The Met: Live in HD, is about to celebrate the holidays and we are all invited. The Metropolitan Opera’s award-winning series of live transmissions to theaters in the Berkshires and around the world, will present special encore screenings of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel and Mozart’s The Magic Flute. The operas, presented in abridged versions and sung in English, are designed to appeal to families with children and will screen in select theaters nationally in the United States on December 21 and December 22 and in Canada on December 28 and 29 and the week of January 2.
Tickets are on sale now; to buy tickets and find local theaters, please visit metopera.org/hdlive.

In the Berkshires, these transmissions are typically beamed to the Beacon Cinema in Pittsfield, the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, and the Clark Art Museum in Williamstown.

THE MAGIC FLUTE (Mozart)

US Screening: Wednesday, December 21 (6:30 p.m. local time)
Canada Screenings: Wednesday, December 28 and the week of January 2
(11 a.m. local time)
Running time: 110 minutes

Conducted by James Levine
Production by Julie Taymor
Starring Ying Huang as Pamina, Erika Miklósa as the Queen of the Night, Matthew Polenzani as Tamino, Nathan Gunn as Papageno, and René Pape as Sarastro

In Julie Taymor’s fantastical production of Mozart’s classic opera, the hero Tamino teams up with the comical bird-catcher Papageno to win the hand of the beautiful princess Pamina. To find her, the two unlikely friends must navigate through a mysterious world of supernatural dangers and avoid the wrath of Pamina’s vengeful mother, the evil Queen of the Night.

Synopsis of The Magic Flute by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Three ladies in the service of the Queen of the Night save the fainting Prince Tamino from a serpent (“A serpent! A monster!”). When they leave to tell the queen, the bird catcher Papageno bounces in and boasts to Tamino that it was he who killed the creature (“I’m Papageno”). The ladies return to give Tamino a portrait of the queen’s daughter, Pamina, who they say is enslaved by the evil Sarastro, and they padlock Papageno’s mouth for lying. Tamino falls in love with Pamina’s face in the portrait (“This portrait’s beauty”). The queen, appearing in a burst of thunder, is grieving over the loss of her daughter; she charges Tamino with Pamina’s rescue (“My fate is grief”). The ladies give a magic flute to Tamino and silver bells to Papageno to ensure their safety, appointing three spirits to guide them (“Hm! hm! hm! hm!”).

Sarastro’s slave Monostatos pursues Pamina (“You will not dare escape”) but is frightened away by the feather-covered Papageno, who tells Pamina that Tamino loves her and intends to save her. Led by the three spirits to the Temple of Sarastro, Tamino is advised by a high priest that it is the queen, not Sarastro, who is evil. Hearing that Pamina is safe, Tamino charms the animals with his flute, then rushes to follow the sound of Papageno’s pipes. Monostatos and his cohorts chase Papageno and Pamina but are left helpless by Papageno’s magic bells. Sarastro, entering in great ceremony (“Long life to Sarastro”), promises Pamina eventual freedom and punishes Monostatos. Pamina is enchanted by a glimpse of Tamino, who is led into the temple with Papageno.

Sarastro tells his priests that Tamino will undergo initiation rites (“O Isis and Osiris”). Monostatos tries to kiss the sleeping Pamina (“Men were born to be great lovers”). He is discovered by the Queen of the Night, who dismisses him. She gives her daughter a dagger with which to murder Sarastro (“Here in my heart, Hell’s bitterness”).

The weeping Pamina is confronted and consoled by Sarastro (“Within our sacred temple”). Tamino and Papageno are told by a priest that they must remain silent and refrain from eating, a vow that Papageno immediately breaks when he takes a glass of water from a flirtatious old lady. The old lady vanishes when he asks her name. The three spirits appear to guide Tamino through the rest of his journey and to tell Papageno to be quiet. Tamino remains silent even when Pamina appears, which breaks her heart since she cannot understand his reticence (“Now my heart is filled with sadness”).

The priests inform Tamino that he has only two more trials to complete his initiation (“Why, beloved, must we part?”). Papageno longs for a cuddly wife but settles for the old lady. When he promises to be faithful she turns into a young Papagena but soon disappears.

After many dangers, Pamina and Tamino are reunited and face the ordeals of water and fire protected by the magic flute.

Papageno is saved from attempted suicide by the spirits who remind him that if he uses his magic bells he will find true happiness. When he does, Papagena appears and the two plan for the future and move into a bird’s nest (“Pa-pa-pa…”). The Queen of the Night, her three ladies, and Monostatos attack the temple but are defeated and banished. Sarastro joins Pamina and Tamino as the people hail Isis, Osiris, and the triumph of courage, virtue, and wisdom.

HANSEL AND GRETEL (Humperdinck)

US Screening: Thursday, December 22 (6:30 p.m. local time)
Canada Screenings: Thursday, December 29 and the week of January 2
(11 a.m. local time)
Running Time: 123 minutes

Conducted by Vladimir Jurowski
Production by Richard Jones
Starring Christine Schäfer as Gretel, Alice Coote as Hansel, Rosalind Plowright as Gertrud, Philip Langridge as the Witch, Alan Held as Peter

In this English-language version of Humperdinck’s opera, the famous fairy tale siblings wander into the forest in search of strawberries and find themselves in the clutches of an evil witch, who is determined to turn them into gingerbread cookies. The score includes the familiar “Evening Prayer,” in which the children, alone in the forest, ask for fourteen angels to guard them as they sleep.

Synopsis of Hansel and Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck

Act I In Hansel and Gretel’s house. Hansel complains he is hungry. Gretel shows him some milk that a neighbor has given for the family’s supper. The children dance. Their mother returns and wants to know why they have gotten so little work done. She accidentally spills the milk and chases the children out into the woods to pick strawberries.

Their father, a broom-maker, returns home drunk. He brings out the food he has bought, then asks where the children have gone. The mother tells him that she has sent them into the woods. He tells her about the Witch who lives there and says that the children are in danger. They go out into the woods to look for them.

Act II Hansel picks strawberries. The children hear a cuckoo singing and eat the strawberries. Soon they have eaten every one. In the sudden silence of the wood, Hansel admits to Gretel that he has lost the way. The children grow frightened. The Sandman comes to bring them sleep, sprinkling sand over their eyes. The children say their evening prayer. In a dream, they see 14 angels.

Act III The Dew Fairy comes to waken the children. Gretel wakes Hansel, and they see the gingerbread house. They end up in the Witch’s kitchen. The Witch decides to fatten Hansel up and casts a spell on him. The oven is hot. Gretel breaks the Witch’s spell and sets Hansel free. When the Witch asks her to look in the oven, she pretends she doesn’t know how to: the Witch must show her. When the Witch peers into the oven, the children shove her inside and shut the door. The oven explodes. The gingerbread children come back to life. The mother and father find the children, and all express gratitude for their salvation.

About The Met: Live in HD

The Met: Live in HD is the Metropolitan Opera’s Peabody and Emmy award-winning series of opera performances transmitted live from the stage of the Met into movie theaters worldwide. More than ten high-definition cameras, including a dolly and robotics, are used to capture the live action onstage, giving a bird’s-eye view and different perspective on the productions.

Additional handheld cameras are backstage to capture live artist interviews and other behind-the-scene action. The Met: Live in HD is shown in more than 1,600 theaters in 54 countries this season, making the Met the only arts institution with an ongoing global art series of this scale, as well as one of the world’s leading providers of alternative cinema content. Close to 3 million tickets are expected to be sold this season, alone; more than 8.5 million tickets have been sold since the series launched in 2006.

Now in its sixth season, The Met: Live in HD is seen in 54 countries; China, Cyprus, Israel, Italy, Morocco, Russia, Slovenia, and the territory of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands are joining the HD network for the first time. The 2011-12 series features 11 transmissions, including seven new productions, starring the opera world’s most prominent artists. The live presentations resume January 21, 2012 with The Enchanted Island.

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