The Witch in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of “Hansel and Gretel” is wickedly delightful in her attempts to cook the titular siblings for dinner. Philip Langridge, the tenor who transforms himself into the baking baddie (prosthetics from head to toe aid in the metamorphosis), is just plain delightful.
With a hearty laugh he explains the finer points of having his face shoved into a cake every night by the pair (“If you don’t close your eyes, you’ve really had it”) and the benefits of such heavy costuming (“My scene is like a 25-minute workout”). But what Langridge is most passionate about is this opera’s accessibility, including kid-focused matinee performances.
“Many of them haven’t been to opera before,” says the Englishman. But children aren’t the only ones taken by the imaginative and macabre sets and story: “There was a girl in her 20s [at Thursday’s performance], and she’d never been to opera before; she was just glowing with it,” says Langridge, who laughs recalling the Witch almost escaped her fate that night when the oven door unexpectedly opened. “That’s what live theater’s about!” he enthuses about the unrehearsed incident. “People have funny ideas about opera — that you wear diamond tiaras to the opera. It’s silly, isn’t it? People need to see live theater, see that it’s not all precise. It shouldn’t be. That’s the fun.”
‘Hansel and Gretel’
Through Jan. 2
50 Lincoln Center Plaza