Stage Door News

Toronto: The Canadian Opera Company presents a new production of “Hansel & Gretel” February 6-21, 2020

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

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™.


Single tickets for Hansel & Gretel range from $35 – $250 with Grand Ring seats available at $290 and $350. Tickets are on sale now, available online at, by calling 416-363-8231, or in person at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts Box Office (145 Queen St. W.). $22 tickets are available for guests between the ages of 16 and 29 through the COC’s Opera Under 30 program and other specially priced tickets are available to young people under the age of 15. For more information on booking student groups, standing room, and rush tickets, please visit

Illustration: Sketch of set for COC’s Hansel & Gretel. © 2019 S. Katy Tucker.