Opera Scotland

Hansel and Gretel Hänsel und Gretel

Tours by decade

1890s - 1 tour

1895 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra

1920s - 2 tours

1923 - British National Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1926 - British National Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra

1930s - 1 tour

1930 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra

1960s - 3 tours

1960 - Sadler's Wells Opera
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1964 - Sadler's Wells Opera
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1966 - Sadler's Wells Opera
Fully Staged with Orchestra

1970s - 2 tours

1972 - Ledlanet Nights
Fully staged, piano accompaniment
1978 - Scottish Opera
Fully Staged with Orchestra

1980s - 1 tour

1983 - Scottish Opera
Fully Staged with Orchestra

1990s - 2 tours

1996 - Scottish Opera
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1998 - Scottish Opera
Fully Staged with Orchestra

2010s - 10 tours

2011 - Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD)
Fully Staged, reduced orchestration
2012 - Scottish Opera
Fully Staged with Orchestra
2012 - Scottish Opera
Pre-show Talk
2012 - Scottish Opera
Opera Unwrapped
2013 - Opera Holloway
Fully Staged, reduced orchestration
2014 - Glyndebourne Festival Opera
Cinema Screening
2016 - St Magnus Festival
Fully Staged with Orchestra
2017 - Opera North
Fully Staged with Orchestra
2017 - Le Petit Verre
Fully Staged with Orchestra
2018 - Edinburgh International Festival
Concert performance

Tours by location

Music
Engelbert Humperdinck (born Siegburg, 1 September 1854; died Neustrelitz, 27 September 1921)

Text
Adelheid Wette.

Source
Tale in Kinder- und Hausmärchen (1812-14) by Brothers Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm.

Premières
First performance: Weimar (Hoftheater), 23 December 1893.
First UK performance: London (Daly’s Theatre), 26 December 1894.
First performance in Scotland: Glasgow (Royalty Theatre), 24 April 1895.
Scottish Opera première: Glasgow (Theatre Royal), 20 June 1978.

Background
Hansel and Gretel was an immediate international success, and has gained a secure place as one of a small group of operas deemed to be suitable for children, while still being equally enjoyed by adults. The music is immediately accessible and tuneful, while using a large orchestra and having a Wagnerian sweep to it. This is perhaps not surprising given that the composer had been Wagner’s assistant during the preparation of Parsifal a decade earlier, and was entrusted with the composition of a few pages to cover over lengthy scene changes at the first performances. His later operas never came near to equalling the success of Hansel, though some had a brief vogue. In recent years it has become fashionable for directors to emphasise the poverty and misery of the family’s situation. The potential sentimentality of the angelic choruses can be leavened by showing them as starving, even dead, children. A potentially abusive relationship between mother and children can work, and an ENO production by David Pountney even had Mother and the Witch doubled by the same singer, and, since that was the wonderfully dramatic Pauline Tinsley, the result was quite scary for the adults in the audience. By contrast, there is an alternative interpretation which plays the witch as a tenor in drag, panto-style. It is a sign of the fundamental strength of the opera that it has been shown to survive a wide range of such interpretations.

Characters
Gretel (soprano)
Hansel, her brother (mezzo-soprano)
Gertrude, their mother (mezzo-soprano)
Peter, their father (baritone)
Sandman (soprano)
Dew Fairy (soprano)
Witch (mezzo-soprano or tenor)

Plot Summary
In their poverty-stricken house, Hansel and Gretel play with enthusiasm, neglecting the chores their mother has allotted to them. When she returns, she is furious, and in her attack on them smashes the jug of milk which was intended for supper. She sends them to gather strawberries in the forest, and awaits the arrival of her drunken husband. However he has had a good day at market and has brought plenty of food. They rush to the woods, worried that their children may come to harm at the hands of the local witch. The children have gathered plenty of berries, but they eat them, then say their prayers and fall asleep, protected by a choir of guardian angels. In the morning they are captured by the witch, who uses a spell to tie Hansel up for fattening. Gretel is eventually able to turn the tables by using the same technique, and the witch is pushed into her own oven. Gretel then frees the other children who had been previously captured.

The Cast

Dew Fairy
 
Gertrude
 mother of Hansel and Gretel
Gretel
 
Hansel
 
Peter
 a broom maker and father of Hansel and Gretel
Sandman
 
Witch
 

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