Composer Engelbert Humperdinck

Saturday, 17. December 2005
06:30 pm – 08:55 pm

Duration est. 2 hours 25 minutes · 1 Interval between 1. + 2. Bild and 3. Bild (est. 07:35 pm - 08:10 pm )

Prices E

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Musikalische Leitung
Fabio Luisi
Herbert List
Bühne und Kostüme
Herbert Kern
Stellario Fagone

Peter, Besenbinder
Martin Gantner
Irmgard Vilsmaier
Cornelia Saljé
Anna Gabler
Die Knusperhexe
Ulrich Reß
Jana Kurucová
Stanislava Stoytcheva
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Well-known, well-loved – a popular favorite: the best of all story-book operas! Parents in poverty – children in mortal peril! Gingerbread house, evening prayer, the witch riding her broomstick! The classic of the Christmas season – between folk song and chorale.  The first opera for the kids – a beloved work for the young at heart, and – a musical quiz for Wagnerians.  Anyone who underestimates this work is making a big mistake!


Act I

Hänsel and Gretel, a broom-maker's children, are hard at work. In hopes of cheering up her moody and hungry brother, his sister tells him a secret: a neighbor lady has brought them a pot of milk, and they will be having sweet rice pudding for supper.

In their joy, they didn't notice that their mother has returned home. Angry that the children are dancing around the room instead of getting their work done, she comes after them with a stick. In the course of this, she bumps into the table knocking over the milk. Now they can forget the nice supper, and the two children are sent off into the woods to get some berries to replace their meal.

Shortly thereafter, their father comes back from town, overjoyed and a little tipsy. His brooms have sold well, and he is bringing some tasty treats for dinner. His joy evaporates however, when he hears that his children are out in the woods alone. The parents go off looking for Hänsel and Gretel.

Act II

Gretel sits under a tree binding some flowers into a wreath. Hänsel comes over with a basket full of freshly picked strawberries.

The cuckoo calls. Engrossed in frolicking and nibbling, the children forget they were supposed to bring home some food for supper. Night falls. Hänsel has lost his way, and the children start getting frightened.

They lay down on a mossy hill: the Sandman comes and puts them to sleep. Angels climb down a golden staircase and watch over them.


The Dew Fairy arrives in the morning and wakes the children up. While they tell one another their dreams, the mists suddenly divide - and they see a gingerbread house in front of them. Covered with icing and magnificent gingerbread, it tempts Hänsel and Gretel to come closer; even a menacing voice asking questions doesn't bother the hungry children.

Then the Witch comes sneaking up, catching Hänsel in a snare. She locks him in a cage because he has to be fattened up so he can later become a tasty roast. The Witch heats up the bake oven and rides around gleefully on her broom.

First it's Gretel's turn, but she tricks the Witch. When the Witch tells her to crawl into the oven to check for gingerbread, she tells her she must first show her how to do it. As soon as she sticks her head into the oven, Hänsel and Gretel pounce on her, push the Witch into the oven and lock the door. This sends the roof of the oven flying into the air, and the gingerbread figures are changed back into boys and girls. In their place, the Witch now appears baked into a huge gingerbread cake. A heavenly court has condemned her to fall victim to her own sorcery.

English translation by Donald Arthur

© Bavarian State Opera

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Fabio Luisi studierte Klavier sowie Dirigieren in Genua, Paris und Wien. Von 1995 bis 2000 war er Chefdirigent des Niederösterreichischen Tonkünstlerorchesters in Wien, von 1997 bis 2002 Künstlerischer Direktor des Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in Genf und seit 1999 des Sinfonieorchesters des MDR Leipzig. Von 2005 bis 2007 hatte er die Position des Chefdirigenten der Wiener Symphoniker inne. Darüberhinaus gab er Konzerte u.a. mit dem New York Philharmonic Orchestra, dem Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, den Münchner Philharmonikern, dem NHK Symphony Orchestra Tokyo und der Sächsischen Staatskapelle Dresden, deren Generalmusikdirektor er bis Anfang 2010 war. 2012 wechselt er in gleicher Position an die Züricher Oper. Dirigat an der Bayerischen Staatsoper 2010/11: 3. Akademiekonzert, Fidelio.

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