Composer Engelbert Humperdinck

Sunday, 05. December 2010
07:00 pm – 09:25 pm

Duration est. 2 hours 25 minutes · 1 Interval between 1. + 2. Bild and 3. Bild (est. 08:05 pm - 08:40 pm )

Prices H

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Musikalische Leitung
Johannes Debus
Herbert List
Bühne und Kostüme
Herbert Kern
Stellario Fagone

Peter, Besenbinder
Michael Volle
Irmgard Vilsmaier
Gabriela Scherer
Claudia Rohrbach
Die Knusperhexe
Ulrich Reß
Martha Hirschmann
Evgeniya Sotnikova
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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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Johannes Debus ist seit 2009 Musikalischer Direktor der Canadian Opera Company in Toronto. Er studierte an der Hamburger Musikhochschule und war ab 1998 als Repetitor sowie nachfolgend als Kapellmeister an der Oper Frankfurt tätig. Dort dirigierte er Werke wie Boulevard Solitude, Falstaff, La traviata, Così fan tutte, L’Orfeo, Die Frau ohne Schatten, Il barbiere di Siviglia und Lulu. Gastverträge führten ihn u.a. an die English National Opera in London, die Opéra National de Lyon, die Deutsche Oper Berlin sowie an die Wiener Volksoper; ferner gastierte er auf Festivals wie der Biennale in Venedig, dem Festival d’Automne in Paris und dem Lincoln Center Festival in New York. 2008 debütierte er an der Bayerischen Staatsoper mit Elektra; Dirigate hier 2010/11: Die Entführung aus dem Serail und Hänsel und Gretel.

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