Palm Beach Opera opens its 19-20 season with a fully-staged production of “Hansel and Gretel” at Delray Beach’s Crest Theatre, starring the company’s artists in residence, on Dec. 6-8.
Based on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tale, Palm Beach Opera’s charming production of “Hansel and Gretel” will feature the company’s Benenson Young Artists and Bailey Apprentice Artists, a lush folk-inspired score by Engelbert Humperdinck, and an imaginative set made entirely out of paper. Palm Beach Opera’s chief conductor David Stern will lead the orchestra, and director Fenlon Lamb, who directed the company’s acclaimed 2018 production of “Tosca,” returns to lead the cast. Lamb is also both the co-creator and executive and artistic director of Papermoon Opera Productions, the team that brought this new “Hansel and Gretel” production to life.
As part of its commitment to present world-class opera and train the next generation of opera stars, Palm Beach Opera is excited to feature their artists in residence in “Hansel and Gretel” at another historic and sought-after venue in South Florida. “We are thrilled to bring our talented Benenon Young and Bailey Apprentice Artists to Delray Beach’s intimate Crest Theatre this season,” said General Director David Walker. “Against the backdrop of downtown Delray Beach’s festive holiday atmosphere, this captivating production of ‘Hansel and Gretel’ is sure to entertain audiences of all ages, and also provides these rising singers with another important on-stage opportunity, further preparing them for successful careers in opera.”
Russian mezzo-soprano Maria Vasilevskaya will sing the role of Hansel, and soprano Patricia Westley, praised as a “hugely impressive artist” by San Francisco Chronicle, will perform as Gretel. Mezzo-soprano and Texas native Cara Collins will perform as The Mother and The Witch, and bass-baritone Ted Allen Pickell, a returning Benenson Young Artist, will sing The Father. Another former Benenson Young Artist, soprano Emily Blair, last seen at Palm Beach Opera as Rosalinde in “Die Fledermaus,” returns to sing the Sandman. Soprano Emily Helenbrook, who has performed as a featured soloist with the Buffalo Philharmonic, will sing the role of Dew Fairy.
Vasilevskaya, Westley, Collins, Pickell and Blair are all current Benenson Young Artists, and Helenbrook is a current Bailey Apprentice Artist. The cast will also include Young Singers of the Palm Beaches, who will perform as the Children’s Chorus.
With more than 600 applicants in a single season, and with fewer than 20 spots available, Palm Beach Opera’s growing artist training programs provide launching pads for both post-graduate and graduate singers. Graduates of the Benenson Young Artist Program and Bailey Apprentice Artist Program have gone on to sing at opera houses across the country and abroad, including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Paris Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin and more.