Opera Scotland

Hansel and Gretel 2012

Hansel and Gretel

Posted 21 Jan 2012

The first performance in Scotland of Hansel and Gretel was given by Carl Rosa Opera on April 24, 1895 at the Royalty Theatre in Glasgow as part of their spring tour, less than eighteen months after its first ever performance in Weimar in December 1893.   Recognising it was good box office, the Rosa gave it twice more in Glasgow, then twice during their week in Aberdeen and four times during their two week visit to Edinburgh.

It was always a popular piece with Sadler's Wells Opera, and they used to tour it in Scotland, with a charming staging aimed at family audiences.   At the Glasgow Empire on Friday 21 1960, the audience heard Rita Hunter (later a redoubtable Wagnerian soprano) among the cast, singing the role of the mother.

In 1971 and 1972, Ledlanet Nights in Kinross-shire presented a total of fourteen performances, the production proving both memorable and popular.

This classic of the German repertoire has never been performed at the Edinburgh Festival.   Scottish Opera performed it first in a puppet version in 1976, then a full scale version in 1978, designed by Sue Blane and Maria Bjørnson. Alexander Gibson conducted and the staging by Peter Ebert used a tenor as the Witch. This production was repeated regularly until 1983.

A second version appeared in 1996, directed by Mark Tinkler, and full of ideas designed to make audiences think about the seriousness of the issues. The revival in 1998, conducted by Richard Armstrong was memorable for the portrayal of the Witch by Anne-Marie Owens.  The mezzo-soprano Leah-Marian Jones, who sang Hansel in 1998, is to play the Witch in Scottish Opera's new 2012 production.

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