Composer Engelbert Humperdinck

Sunday, 23. December 2007
11:30 am – 01:55 pm

Duration est. 2 hours 25 minutes · 1 Interval between 1. + 2. Bild and 3. Bild (est. 12:35 pm - 01:10 pm )

Prices I

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Musikalische Leitung
Cornelius Meister
Herbert List
Bühne und Kostüme
Herbert Kern
Stellario Fagone

Peter, Besenbinder
Christian Rieger
Irmgard Vilsmaier
Judith Gennrich
Aga Mikolaj
Die Knusperhexe
Ulrich Reß
Stephanie Hampl
Elif Aytekin
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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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Cornelius Meister, geboren in Hannover, ist seit 2010 Chefdirigent und Künstlerischer Leiter des ORF Radio-Symphonieorchesters Wien (RSO). Zudem ist er designierter Generalmusikdirektor der Staatsoper Stuttgart. Engagements führten ihn an Häuser wie die Deutsche Oper Berlin, die Semperoper Dresden, die Staatsoper Hamburg, die Staatsoper Wien, das Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, das Teatro alla Scala in Mailand, die Oper Zürich, die San Francisco Opera sowie zu den Salzburger Festspielen. Er leitete Orchester wie das Concertgebouworkest Amsterdam, das City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, das BBC National Orchestra, das Orchestre de l’Opéra national de Paris, das Ensemble Intercontemporain, das Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich und die Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester des NDR, SWR und BR. Als Pianist ist er Preisträger des Deutschen Musikwettbewerbs und des Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festivals. Als Dirigent erhielt er 2007 den Preis für das beste Konzertprogramm des Deutschen Musikverleger-Verbands und einen Junge Ohren-Preis für seine Musikvermittlungsarbeit in Heidelberg. Dirigat an der Bayerischen Staatsoper 2016/17: 5. Akademiekonzert.

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