HÄNSEL UND GRETEL
Engelbert Humperdinck 1854 – 1921
Opera in three Scenes
Libretto by Adelheid Wette after the fairy tale of the same name (1810) by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
First performed December 23rd 1893 at the Hoftheater in Weimar
Sung in German with German surtitles
Duration: 2 hours 15 min. with one interval
25.12.2014 |28.12.2014 |
About the work
Is it really only a dark, bitterly cold wood in which the broom-maker’s children get lost and fall into the clutches of a demonic power? Or does the wandering path lead inwards, to the maze of the soul, to the heart of early and late romanticism? There where Weber’s wolf’s glen and Caspar David Friedrich’s ice floes are to be found? Something definitely happens in the wood and the children who emerge from it are not quite the same as they were when they entered it.
The brothers Grimm and Engelbert Humperdinck, who composed the work in Frankfurt at a time of booming economy, lived at the time of the industrial revolution, a time of unscrupulous exploitation, especially of the young. Child labour – Dicken’s starving orphans and workhouse boys – was common. These children’s psychological and social problems are mirrored in the tale of the abandoned siblings. There is a deeply moving chorale at the end of the opera that proclaims the brightness of day and freedom – dissolving the darkness, and fear, of slavery.
Sebastian Weigle / Björn Huestege / Nikolai Petersen / Hartmut Keil / Karsten Januschke
Children’s Chorus Master
Alejandro Marco-Buhrmester / Simon Bailey
Gertrud, his wife
Heidi Melton / Barbara Zechmeister / Hedwig Fassbender
Katharina Magiera / Judita Nagyová
Louise Alder / Karen Vuong / Juanita Lascarro
Die Knusperhexe (Witch)
Peter Marsh / Michael McCown
Elizabeth Reiter / Katharina Ruckgaber*
Taumännchen (Dew Fairy)
Nora Friedrichs * / Kateryna Kasper
Oper Frankfurt’s Orchestra and Children’s Chorus
Act 1 Hänsel and Gretel are on their own at home. They are supposed to be working. They are getting hungry, waiting for their mother to make some rice pudding for them with milk from the jug, so start to dance and play to pass the time. Their mother comes home. Her disobedient children make her so cross that she smashes the milk jug and sends them off to collect berries in the woods. Their father comes home after selling some brooms, with lots to eat. He reproaches his wife when he hears that the children are in the woods. They set off to find them.
Act 2 Evening in the wood. Hänsel and Gretel play and gobble up all the berries they collected. They get frightened when it starts to get dark and they realise they are lost. The Sandman appears and sends them to sleep. The children see angels in a dream. Dawn arrives with the Dew Fairy.
Act 3 Hänsel and Gretel find the witch’s house. They begin to eat bits of it. The witch appears, pretending to be friendly; the children don’t trust her and are put under a spell. Hänsel is locked up and Gretel must work for the witch. When the witch tells her to check on the oven Gretel pretends to be so stupid that the witch has to show her how to do it – and Gretel pushes her in. The spell over the other lost children is broken. Their parents find them and everyone rejoices.