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Family-friendly Hansel and Gretel to open Feb. 27

Featuring earlier evening curtain times and English-language performances

February 5, 2010

Patricia G. Horwell, Communications Officer
 (941) 366-8450 ext. 332

Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, the third production in Sarasota Opera’s annual Winter Festival, has something for every age group. Opening on February 27 at 8 p.m., the famous Grimm fairy tale of two mischievous children who outwit the wicked witch has something for both children and adults to enjoy.  The music is rich with charming folk tunes and memorable melodies combined with rich harmonies and orchestration.
Family friendly is the key. With that in mind, all evening performances, except for the opening night, will begin at 7 p.m. rather than the usual 8 p.m. The opera will be sung in English, and in addition  the English text will still be shown above the stage . Finally, Sarasota Opera is offering a free childcare service for younger children (toddlers and up) at its March 13, 1:30 p.m. matinee. A limited number of childcare spots are available and are on a reservations-only basis, by calling the Box Office.
Heather Johnson, acclaimed for her role as Beppe in last season’s L’amico Fritz, will play Hansel. Ms. Johnson has sung the roles of Carmen at Volkstheater Rostock/Germany; Meg Page in Falstaff at New York City Opera, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly at Madison Opera, and Zerlina in Don Giovanni at Boston Lyric and Glimmerglass Operas. Gretel will be sung by Angela Mortellaro, who makes her Sarasota Opera debut. She has played Anna Gomez in The Consul and Edith in The Pirates of Penzance at Chautauqua Opera, Clorinda in La Cenerentola and Suor Genovieffa in Suor Angelica at Orlando Opera. Finally, Stella Zambalis who made her Sarasota Opera debut as Princess Eboli in last season’s Don Carlos, a role for which she was lauded by the critics, returns as the Witch. She is an internationally recognized artist who among her many credits includes Cherubino in the Ghosts of Versailles at the Metropolitan Opera, Musetta in La bohème and Nedda in Pagliacci at Houston Grand Opera.
Jeffrey Marc Buchman, who made his Sarasota Opera debut last year as stage director of the Apprentice Artists Program, will direct. Returning to conduct is Anthony Barrese, who conducted Lakmé in 2005 and The Marriage of Figaro in 2006. Maestro Barrese also has been music director and principal conductor at Opera Southwest/New Mexico, and has conducted Don Giovanni at Boston Lyric Opera and Tosca at Dallas Opera. Sets were designed by David P. Gordon and costumes by resident designer Howard Tsvi Kaplan.
Other operas to be performed in repertory during the Festival, which runs through March 21, are Cavalleria rusticana/Pagliacci by Mascagni and Leoncavallo respectively, Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, and Verdi’s Giovanna d’Arco (Joan of Arc).
Tickets for all performances are available now at the Box Office in the Deane Allyn Pavilion of the Sarasota Opera House, by phone at (941) 366-8450, ext. 1, or online at The box office is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and through the first intermission on performance evenings in the Lobby Box Office.