Ansel and Gretel at the Knoxville Opera


The beloved tale of two children whose goodness and faith triumph over an evil witch returns to the Tennessee Theatre for the first time in 32 years.

The lavish production includes a 19-foot tall candied house, trees with blinking eyes, cuckoo birds, 14 angels, and a dancing witch.

Opera preview hosted by Maestro Salesky begins 45 minutes prior to each performance.

Creative Team


Candace Evans (Stage Director)

Candace Evans has enjoyed a distinguished career as a director and choreographer of over 80 operas, musicals and plays. Among the companies which have presented her productions are the Teatro Colón (Buenos Aires), Santa Fe Opera, Dallas Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Florentine Opera, Madison Opera, North Carolina Opera and Opera San Antonio. Honored by the National Music Critic’s Association of Argentina, Ms. Evans’ work was selected among the top three operas of 2012. Similarly, her productions of Carmen and Eugene Onegin for Madison Opera were named Top Ten Classical Events. Frequently asked to develop new productions, Ms. Evans’ Akhnaten was selected by the composer, Philip Glass, to be a definitive DVD. With a conservatory Master of Fine Arts degree in classical theatre/direction, Ms. Evans also trained as an opera singer, ballet dancer and toured the world as a stage performer. Relocating from New York City, she taught for the theatre/music departments of Southern Methodist University for 4 years and now privately coaches singers and leads masterclasses. Ms. Evans has served as the acting/movement coach for Dallas Opera, Fort Worth Opera Festival and Taos Opera Institute. Ms. Evans recent engagements include three new productions, Salome, featuring the role debut of Patricia Racette, Il Matrimonio Segreto, part of the ICastica summer arts festival in Arezzo, Italy and Le Wally, for the Dallas Opera.

Brian Salesky  Conductor

Meet the Cast

Chrystal Williams (Hansel)

Chrystal Williams (Hansel)

Birthplace: Portsmouth, Virginia
Foreign Opera Company: Birmingham Opera (UK)
Foreign Orchestras and Festivals: Cairo Symphony Orchestra (Egypt), Norrköpings Symfoniorkester (Sweden)
U.S. Opera Companies: Washington National Opera, Sarasota Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Gotham Chamber Opera, Academy of Vocal Arts (PA), Yale School of Music Opera, Carnegie Mellon University Opera
U.S. Orchestra: University of Pennsylvania Symphony Orchestra
U.S. Festivals: Aspen Music Festival, Glimmerglass Festival, Pine Mountain Music Festival

Lindsay Russell (Gretel)

Lindsay Russell (Gretel)

Birthplace: Richmond, Virginia
Foreign Orchestra: Hong Kong Philharmonic
U.S. Opera Companies: Santa Fe Opera, Seattle Opera, Arizona Opera, Portland Opera, Syracuse Opera, Skylight Opera (MN), Opera Roanoke
U.S. Orchestras : Yakima Symphony Orchestra (WA), New England Symphonic Ensemble
U.S. Festivals: Glimmerglass Festival (NY), Northern Lights Music Festival (MN)

Jennifer Roderer (Witch)

Jennifer Roderer (Witch)

Birthplace: Wheaton, Illinois
Foreign Opera Company: Teatro Colòn (Buenos Aires), Opern Air Gars (Austria)
U.S. Opera Companies: Lyric Opera of Chicago, Los Angeles Opera, Washington National Opera, Seattle Opera, Santa Fe Opera, New York City Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Virginia Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Opera Pacific, Utah Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Tulsa Opera, Syracuse Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Opera Roanoke, Chautauqua Opera, Opera Illinois, Berkeley Opera
U.S. Orchestras : Los Angeles Philharmonic, American Symphony (NY), Phoenix Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Florida Symphony, Pacific Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, Anchorage Symphony, Pacific Chorale and Symphony, New Jersey Festival Orchestra, Peoria Symphony, Hudson Valley Philharmonic (NY), New England Symphonic Ensemble
U.S. Festivals: Spoleto Festival, Crested Butte Music Festival (CO), Ojai Festival (CA), Berkshire Choral Festival

Scott Bearden (Father)

Scott Bearden (Father)

Birthplace: Flint, Michigan
Foreign Opera Company: International Vocal Arts Institute (Tel Aviv)
U.S. Opera Companies: San Francisco Opera, Opera Boston, Knoxville Opera, Opera New Jersey, Toledo Opera, Mississippi Opera, Opera Theater of Connecticut, Opera Memphis, Opera San Jose, Opera Grand Rapids, Eugene Opera, Cedar Rapids Opera, West Bay Opera, Mercury Opera, Rockland Opera (NY), California Festival Opera
U.S. Orchestras : Monterey Symphony, Oakland East Bay Symphony, Midland Symphony, Symphony Silicon Valley
U.S. Festivals: Tanglewood Music Festival, Caramoor Music Festival, Sanibel Music Festival, Mendocino Music Festival

Elizabeth Peterson (Mother)

Elizabeth Peterson (Mother)

Birthplace: St. Petersburg, Florida
Foreign Festival: Edinburgh Arts Festival
U.S. Opera Companies: Cincinnati Opera, Dayton Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Toledo Opera, Lyric Opera Cleveland, Whitewater/Sorg Opera, Ohio Light Opera
U.S. Orchestras : Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Tampa Bay Master Chorale and Orchestra, Florida Orchestra, Middletown Symphony Orchestra
U.S. Festivals: Spoleto Festival, Lake Eden Arts Festival


Plot Synopsis

Act I – The hut of the broom-maker, at the edge of the forest

Hansel and Gretel play, quarrel, and reconcile in a dance. Their mother, Gertrude, enters and is angry to find them idle, rather than working. In her anger, she knocks over the pitcher of milk a neighbor has brought. The children had hoped the milk would be used for a rice pudding, a rare treat in their poverty-stricken home. An angry and desperate Gertrude, knowing that there will be no supper for her family, sends the children out to pick strawberries in the forest.

An off-stage song announces the return of Peter, her husband, apparently drunk as usual. He has celebrated his success selling his brooms at the village market and has brought home sausages, bread and other food. When he asks Gertrude where the children are, she tells him that she has sent them to the forest. Peter tells her about the wicked witch who lives there using sweetmeats to lure children to her lair, where she bakes them in her oven. Horrified, Gertrude and Peter rush out to the forest in search of their children.

Act II – The forest, evening

An orchestral prelude depicts the Witch’s Ride. As the children search for strawberries in the dark forest, Gretel weaves a garland of flowers and sings of a little man who lives in there. Hansel crowns his sister with the garland, calling her “Queen of the Forest,” as night falls. The pair soon realizes that they have eaten all the strawberries and lost their way. They are now truly frightened, calling out for their father and mother. The Sandman comes, throwing magic dust as they sing their evening prayer and 14 angels descend to protect them in their sleep.

Act III – The forest, morning

The Dewman awakens the children and they notice a little house made of confectionery. They begin to nibble at the extraordinary structure, which Gretel thinks must be a gift from the angels. But as they taste the house, they hear a voice within. The Witch appears and casts a rope around the neck of the unsuspecting Hansel, putting him in a cage.

In order to fatten Hansel up for her recipe, the Witch prepares more food for him. Meanwhile Gretel obtains the magic wand, frees Hansel from his cage, and the two children push the Witch into the oven. They then break the spell which had imprisoned other children in a gingerbread fence encircling the house. Peter and Gertrude, searching for their children enter. As the oven explodes, the Witch, now a giant cookie, is extracted and all cheer.

Knoxville Opera

612 East Depot Ave.
Knoxville, TN 37917
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