Hansel and Gretel's parents have fallen on hard times. One afternoon, the children decide to cheer themselves up by dancing. Their mother Gertrud is furious to discover them neglecting their work. She sends them out into the forest to find strawberries for supper, little realizing that it is a dangerous place after dark.
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Humperdinck and his librettist and sister, Adelheid Wette, originally conceived Hansel and Gretel as a children's play with songs for their family to perform. It subsequently evolved into a full-scale opera. Hansel and Gretel's acclaimed premiere was on 23 December 1893 in Weimar, conducted by the composer Richard Strauss. The opera has been associated with Christmas ever since.
Antony McDonald's production pays tribute to the picture-book German landscape and to the enchanting fairytale narratives of the Brothers Grimm, while mindful of the story's darker aspects. Humperdinck's score combines irresistibly catchy folksongs with a lyrical overture and orchestral interludes that are marvels of rich, late-Romantic orchestration.
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20 March 2018