The Canadian Opera Company presents “Hansel & Gretel” February 6, 8, 11, 15, 16, 19, 21, 2020 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts


Everyday magic comes alive in a new production that transplants Hansel and Gretel’s adventures from a wooded forest setting to modern-day Toronto. As the siblings make their way through a contemporary high-rise neighbourhood in search of food, they must rely on their wits – and each other – to outsmart danger along the way. All throughout, cutting-edge stage technology paints a picture of the characters’ vivid imaginations, creating a theatrical experience unlike any other. Hansel & Gretel runs for seven performances at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on February 6, 8, 11, 15, 16, 19, 21, 2020.

Joel Ivany, award-winning Canadian stage director and artistic director of Against the Grain Theatre, brings his inventive theatrical vision to this beloved classic. Ivany’s boundary-pushing work has been credited with “chang[ing] the opera game” (National Post) and, together with Katherine Syer as dramaturg, the pair have created something entirely unique for the COC stage. In this Hansel & Gretel, relatable fears, such as income inequality and environmental sustainability, weigh heavy on the children’s minds, along with the fantastical threat of witches in wait. COC Director/Dramaturg-in-Residence Julie McIsaac joins the team as Assistant Director and S. Katy Tucker has dreamed up sets and specialized projections that weave storybook elements into modern day landscapes. Toronto-based Ming Wong is behind the production’s costumes and lighting has been designed by JAX Messenger, who last joined the COC for the world premiere presentation of Pyramus and Thisbe in 2015.

American mezzo-soprano Emily Fons has been called one of opera’s rising stars by Opera News and sings the role of Hansel. She is joined by a strong Canadian cast that includes three established COC Ensemble Studio graduates: soprano Simone Osborne is Gretel, mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó is the children’s mother, Gertrude, and tenor Michael Colvin is the diabolical witch, in a role debut. Seasoned Canadian baritone Russell Braun lends his “tremendous voice” (Toronto Star) to the role of the children’s father, Peter, and current Ensemble Studio soprano Anna-Sophie Neher sings the role of the Dew Fairy/Sandman.

COC Music Director Johannes Debus conducts the COC Orchestra through Humperdinck’s beautiful interpretation of the Grimm story, alongside the Canadian Children’s Opera Company singing the children’s chorus.

Hansel & Gretel is sung in German and presented by the COC with English SURTITLES™.

Hansel & Gretel is presented in partnership with the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.


If you are looking for an easy opera to immerse yourself into whilst fighting off winter’s chill, consider catching the Canadian Opera Company’s “Hansel & Gretel”. It is a quiet and serene production that echoes moments of reflection. If you have little children in your life or would prefer a night out on your own, “Hansel & Gretel” will provide you pure contentment and a space to take in a well earned fairy tale.

American mezzo-soprano Emily Fons plays Hansel. She exposes the audience with a colourful and robust performance that will shine light from any darkened stage. Soprano Simone Osborne plays Gretel exudes warmth that further accentuates her talent. Krisztina Szabó is the children’s mother, and tenor Michael Colvin is the diabolical witch who challenge the production to the next level with their diversity in vocal performance and depth. The talent on stage is decadent during this relaxed performance. It pushes the booted up audience to giggle, to smile and just have a good time for the two hours or so they are together.

The “Hansel & Gretel” set was beyond magical and will be sure to mesmerize any child or adult. Think strewn fairy lights and a starry sky worthy of getting lost in. An apartment complex and a diverse cast that grounds the production in Toronto. “Hansel & Gretel” goes well beyond just an opera but more a rousing ode to a city that calls the Canadian Opera Company home. The production is a true treat for the home town crowd and for those visiting Toronto. It will leave you with a sense of Toronto’s grit but also its cheekiness.

Valentine’s Day and Family Day are just around the corner, grab some time and immerse yourself in the pure love and joy of opera. “Hansel & Gretel” will not disappoint, in fact it will fill your heart with enough warmth to carry you through until the spring.

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