Hansel and Gretel

Even if '60s cheese-pop star Arnold Dorsey hadn't stolen it as a stage name, German composer Engelbert Humperdinck (1854-1921) would still have to struggle with his name's considerable snicker factor. Fortunately that doesn't dissuade opera companies from staging his gorgeous Hansel and Gretel, which has become a holiday tradition at New York's Metropolitan Opera and, by extension through their broadcasts, across the country. The story's a familiar fairy tale--two kids, the forest, the witch, etc.--and the luscious score lies somewhere between Schubert and Wagner, a big candy box of stick-in-your-ear tunes clad in opulent, cushiony orchestration. (By the way, Seattle Symphony is playing a suite from the opera next week for its New Year's concerts, Dec. 28-31.) It's one of two operas the Met is beaming into theaters this week in slightly abridged movie-length form (two hours). The other is Mozart's The Magic Flute, in an eye-popping production by Julie Taymor that uses larger-than-life puppets, something in the style of her acclaimed Lion King. (6:30 p.m. Wed. [Flute] and Thurs. [H&G].) GAVIN BORCHERT

Wed., Dec. 21, 6:30 p.m.; Thu., Dec. 22, 6:30 p.m., 2011

 
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