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Hänsel und Gretel

The Royal Opera

A classic fairytale from the Brothers Grimm is brought to the stage in Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s magical production.

Most recent performance

There are currently no scheduled performances of Hänsel und Gretel. It was last on stage 23 December 2010—7 January 2011.

Introduction

Hansel and Gretel are sent into the forest by their mother to gather berries. The children get lost and stumble upon a house made of gingerbread, which proves too much of a temptation, despite the strange woman who lives there…

Background

This fairytale opera about a brother and sister who get lost in a forest was originally created by composer Engelbert Humperdinck and his sister Adelheid Wette as a children’s entertainment; it soon turned into a fully-fledged opera. Humperdinck’s colourful score and Wette’s libretto bring out the dark aspects of the Brothers Grimms’ fairytale and convey its humour and sense of hope. Hansel and Gretel was first performed in Weimar on the night before Christmas Eve in 1893. The opera opened in London on Boxing Day the following year, and has remained an enduring seasonal classic throughout Europe.

The Royal Opera’s 2008 production is full of visual delights and displays all of Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s characteristic wit. Against a panoramic scrolling backdrop, Hansel and Gretel venture deep into the forest. They are watched over by the mysterious Sandman, a Dew Fairy with a penchant for cleaning and a host of guardian angels. These comforting scenes are contrasted with darker visions: the children encounter a wicked witch who has a truly nightmarish kitchen, in which she bakes children into biscuits. Humperdinck vividly evokes the various moods and scenes of the story in a score that combines catchy folksongs with exquisite orchestral interludes.

On Wikipedia

Hansel and Gretel (German: Hänsel und Gretel) is an opera by nineteenth-century composer Engelbert Humperdinck, who described it as a Märchenoper (fairy tale opera). The libretto was written by Humperdinck's sister, Adelheid Wette, based on the Grimm brothers' fairy tale "Hansel and Gretel". It is much admired for its folk music-inspired themes, one of the most famous being the "Abendsegen" ("Evening Benediction") from act 2.The idea for the opera was proposed to Humperdinck by his sister, who approached him about writing music for songs that she had written for her children for Christmas based on "Hansel and Gretel". After several revisions, the musical sketches and the songs were turned into a full-scale opera.Humperdinck composed Hansel and Gretel in Frankfurt in 1891 and 1892. The opera was first performed in Hoftheater in Weimar on 23 December 1893, conducted by Richard Strauss. It has been associated with Christmas since its earliest performances and today it is still most often performed at Christmas time.

Abstract taken from the Wikipedia article Hansel and Gretel (opera), available under a Creative Commons license.