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Humperdinck: Hansel and Gretel - The Metropolitan Opera HD Live 2007 [DVD] 
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This new English language production of Humperdinck's first opera, based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, features Alice Coote and Christine Schafer in the title roles with Philip Langridge taking on the part of the Witch. This production was staged by Richard Jones and designed by John Macfarlane. The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra is conducted by Vladimir Jurowski.
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I saw the singer perform many times, mainly at English National Opera, including a stunningly-overwhelming Peter Grimes in 1994, happily also enshrined on video.
It is perhaps strange -and sad- that three of the leading, most-valued British tenors of the day all died within a year of each other; all roughly the same age: Langridge (70), Robert Tear (72) and Anthony Rolfe-Johnson (69).
A belated R.I.P to all three.
But what makes this beautifully well-sung production so incredible is the amount of food that has to be eaten (or partially eaten) while singing this demanding Wagnerian-like score. And not a gingerbread house in sight - just a huge cake on an equally huge tongue.
And so we come to two negatives: I was uncomfortable with all the (erotic?)smearing of strawberries on faces in the forest scene (the children are supposed to be starving) and I could have done without the Hitler moustache in chocolate during the kitchen scene. An awful lot of good food (and much is real) is gobbled, thrown and splattered in a kitchen that outdoes any pantomime slosh scene. (I admit to having switched channels from starvation in Gaza and the move from famine to feast may have been too much).
But this is theatre that is very much pre-credit crunch with no expense spared! An added bonus is `what goes on behind the scenes', glimpses of which are seen during the overture and the witch's ride: it beats looking endlessly at the oboist's fingers and the gestures of the conductor.
Indulge yourself. Buy it. Feast on it. It makes the recent Covent Garden production - although beautifully sung - thin gruel.
PS And it was good to see the gorgeous Rosalind Plowright as a very slim attractive mother.
Being a country resident in regional New South Wales with but rare opportunities to visit a proper Opera House, the Met's production of Hansel and Gretel is the first I have seen. Such a wonderful departure from reality with the over-sized sets making the 'children' appear child sized and the introduction of the amazing creatures in rubber skins had me intrigued - Sasha Cooke's Sandman had me imagining Edward Scissorhands.
I was delighted by the singing of the two children, Christine Schafer and Alice Coote - how could you possible expect real children to handle such difficult roles. Rosalind Plowright was a surprise - so young and slender looking for that great voice.
Then there was slightly build Philip Langridge in the rubber fat suit as The Witch. Unique, hilarious, brilliant.
Renee Fleming's talks backstage during the acts enhanced my enjoyment of the production.
Oh yes, Hansel and Gretel was well worth the money.
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Picture quality 5
Sound quality 5
Sets 5 - each act has a kitchen and food theme.Read more