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Hansel and Gretel (Hansel und Gretel in German) is an opera with music by Engelbert Humperdinck and a libretto by his sister, Adelheid Wette. It is based on the Grimm brothers' classic fairy tale of the same name. Wette first proposed the work as a Christmas present to her children, and it eventually became a full-fledged opera. It is beloved for its innovative use of folk-inspired musical themes and fanciful plot.
Hansel and Gretel's world premiere was in Weimar, Germany in 1893. Several premieres followed, including ones in Switzerland, London, New York, and Melbourne, all before the turn of the century. Though originally composed in German, Hansel and Gretel is frequently performed in English translation. For decades, the most popular English translation was by Constance Bache. In the U.S., a very popular translation by Normal Kelley was used for a colorful production at the Metropolitan Opera. And since 2007, the Met has presented the opera in a translation by David Pountney for its new, darkly comic production. Order your Hansel and Gretel tickets right away to see this classic tale in a new light!Plot Synopsis:
Act I: Young children Hansel and Gretel are at home alone; Hansel makes a broom as Gretel sews a stocking. When Gretel starts to sing to herself, Hansel joins in with a song about his persistent hunger. Gretel reassures him that God will work things out when they need them to most and then shows him the jug of milk Mother had brought home. He tastes the cream on top, and though Gretel scolds him, he is in a better mood and invites her to dance with him.
Mother comes home and is angry that the children have been shirking their responsibilities. When she threatens to smack them with a stick, she accidentally knocks over the milk. She then sends the children to the forest to pick strawberries and quietly laments her inability to feed her children. Father bursts in and drunkenly greets Mother, who scolds him for drinking. But he turns her mood around when he shows her what he has brought: a pack full of food including eggs, flour, sausages, onions, coffee, bacon, and butter. He explains that in a town beyond the forest, the people were cleaning in preparation for a festival, so he was able to sell his brooms for a tidy profit. Father asks Mother where the children are so that he can share the good news. When she says they are in the forest, he becomes frightened, telling her that the evil Gingerbread Witch lives there. She lures unsuspecting children with promises of sweets, then baked them into gingerbread in her magic oven and eats them. The couple rushes out to find their children.
Act II: In the forest, Gretel weaves a crown of flowers as Hansel fills a basket with strawberries. After they play for a while, they begin to eat the strawberries. Once they are almost gone, they start to fight over them and Hansel dumps them all into his mouth. Gretel warns that Mother will be angry if they return empty-handed, so they look for more, but it has grown too dark for them to see. Frightened and lost, they hear someone approaching. Hansel tries to calm Gretel down, but when a little man emerges, she screams.
The little man reveals himself to be the Sandman. He tells the children that he means them no harm and has come to put them to sleep. He sprinkles sand in their eyes and, after saying their evening prayers, they nod off on the forest floor. As they sleep, fourteen angels surround and protect them.
Act III: In the morning, the Dew Fairy wakes the children by sprinkling dew on them, singing about how wonderful life in the forest is. Once awake, they talk about their mutual dreams of angels. Suddenly, they notice a house made from gingerbread. Though there is an oven, a cage, and a pen of gingerbread children, they can not resist temptation; they break off bits of the house and begin eating.
As they devour the house, Hansel and Gretel think that they hear a voice, but brush it off as the wind playing tricks on them. All of a sudden, the witch emerges and catches Hansel with a rope. Though she says she loves feeding children sweets, they are suspicious and try to run away, but they are stopped by her magic wand. The witch forces Hansel into a cage and fetches food to fatten him up while enchanting Gretel to dance and set the table. Hansel secretly tells Gretel to pretend to obey and pretends to go to sleep in the cage. The witch returns and tells Hansel to show her his finger. He presents a bone to the nearsighted witch and she exclaims that she need to fatten him up much more before eating him. While she is feeding him, Gretel steals the wand. When the witch orders her to check on the oven, she pretends not to know what she means. Frustrated, the witch goes over to the oven to demonstrate, and the children leap forward and push her in. They dance as the oven explodes.
With the witch dead, the gingerbread children return to human form, and Hansel and Gretel use the wand to free them from their prison. Suddenly, they hear Father and Mother calling from the distance. As the family reunites, the gingerbread children pull the gingerbread witch out of the oven and rejoice. Order your Hansel and Gretel tickets today to experience this whimsical story all over again!Run Time: Approximately 2 hours and 10 minutes Advisory: Appropriate for all ages. Creative Team: Written by Engelbert Humperdinck Libretto by Adelheid Wette Based on Hansel and Gretel by The Grimm Brothers