Fairy Tale Opera in three pictures -1893

Composer Engelbert Humperdinck · Libretto by Adelheid Wette
In German with English and German subtitles

Thursday, 24. December 2020
10:00 am – 11:50 am

Duration est. 1 hours 50 minutes

free of charge


This performance will be broadcasted live via the internet as part of Staatsoper.TV.

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Friedrich Haider
Richard Jones
Set Design
John Macfarlane
Benjamin Davis
Jennifer Tipton
Michael Bauer
Linda Dobell
Anjali Mehra
Stellario Fagone

Peter, Besenbinder
Milan Siljanov
Okka von der Damerau
Tara Erraught
Emily Pogorelc
Die Knusperhexe
Kevin Conners
Daria Proszek
Sarah Gilford
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Since its first performance in 1893, Humperdinck's most famous opera Hansel and Gretel has remained constantly popular, becoming over the generations almost synonymous with the first family visit to the opera. "Brother come and dance with me!“ – "Susie, dear Susie" – a dancing brother and sister, the Dew Fairy and the Sandman, the Witch and the parents: a collection of all the fairy tale elements of the 19th century. And yet this is also a tale of hardship, hunger and the desire for abundance with a clear moral: "When the need is greatest, God the Lord puts out His hand!“

And, in Richard Jones' opulent, brilliant setting, it's a real must!


Act One

Hansel and Gretel are alone at home and do not want to do any work. They are hungry and sad about the fact that there is scarcely anything to eat in their home most of the time. Gretel shows her brother the freshly-filled jug of milk with which their mother plans to make a rice pudding in the evening. Both children take several sips of the milk, the level drops increasingly. They are dashing around and dancing when their mother comes home. She is angry and wants to punish the children and while doing so she accidentally knocks the milk jug over and sends the two of them off to collect berries. In despair she bemoans the fact that the family is so poor.

Their father comes home in a good mood. He has had a successful day for once, he is slighty drunk and brings home a bag full of food. He is worried about his children and tells his wife about the witch who bakes children in her oven, turning them into gingerbread children which she then eats. The parents set out to search for their children.

Act Two

Hansel has picked berries and Gretel has woven a wreath of flowers. Hungry still, and acting more wildly, they eat all the berries. They cannot find their way home again. They wander around, lost and frightened. A strange being appears: the sandman, who strews sand in their eyes. Drunk with sleep they say their evening prayer and lie down. They dream.

Act Three

Next morning the children are awoken by another unknown being, who introduces herself as the little dew fairy. They realize that they have both had the same dream. They suddenly come across huge sweets and stuff them in their mouths greedily. With every bite a mysterious voice is heard, Hansel and Gretel think they have just imagined it and continue to eat. They are taken prisoner by the witch, who overpowers them with ever more to eat, Hansel is tied up. The witch plans to bake the children in a huge oven. The children craftily trick the witch and push her into the hot oven. Suddenly numerous children, who have been turned into gingerbread children by the witch, come alive again. The worried parents rush in and everyone is pleased to see each other again and glad about the fact that the witch is dead.

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Premiere of Engelbert Humperdinck's "Hänsel und Gretel" on March 24, 2013 in the Nationaltheater

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Friedrich Haider studierte an der Wiener Musikakademie und bei Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Von 1991 bis 1995 war er Chefdirigent der Opéra national du Rhin in Straßburg, von 2004 bis 2011 stand die Oviedo Filarmonia unter seiner Leitung. Von 2012 bis 2016 war er Chefdirigent am Slowakischen Nationaltheater in Bratislava. Er gastierte an zahlreichen Opernhäusern, u. a. in New York, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Venedig, Wien, Dresden und Berlin und dirigierte u. a. das London Symphony Orchestra, das Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, die Göteborgs Symfoniker und die Camerata Salzburg. Während der Spielzeit 2017/18 leitete er das polnische Originalklangensemble „Musicae Antiquae Collegium Varsoviense“. Seit der Spielzeit 2017/18 ist er erster Gastdirigent des Theaters und der Philharmonie Essen. An der Bayerischen Staatsoper dirigierte er u. a. Ariadne auf Naxos, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Faust, Rigoletto und Roberto Devereux. Dirigate hier 2020/21: Hänsel und Gretel. (Stand: 2021)

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