Who doesn’t know the poor fairy-tale siblings who, after playing up at home, are sent out by their mother to find berries – and who then get lost in the forest? Or the evil Witch, into whose clutches they fall, and of course her gingerbread house, so sweet on the outside, and yet a death trap inside? Based on the story by the Brothers Grimm, Engelbert Humperdinck created one of the most famous fairy-tale operas in the entire theatrical repertoire. Originally conceived as a piece for his own family based on texts by his sister Adelheid Wette, »Hansel and Gretel« became Humperdinck’s first work for the operatic stage, and one that enjoyed unprecedented success. After decades of searching, the composer had finally stumbled upon an alternative form to his mentor Richard Wagner: The integration of folk and children’s songs with musical-dramatic elements based on a well-known fairy tale. In this staging by Katharina Thalbach, the story is enriched by additional figures from the enchanted worlds of the Brothers Grimm: Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White and the evil Wolf transport children as well as adults on a musical journey, following the footsteps of beloved fantastic characters through an eerie yet beautiful magical forest. And in the end the witches’ realm is destroyed and goodness prevails, as proclaimed by the gingerbread children released from the evil spell: »Liberated, freed, for all time«.
Hänsel and Gretel are supposed to be working but they are so hungry. They escape their hunger by dancing and playing. Their mother returns home. Exasperated by the fact that the children have not completed their work, she accidentally knocks over the cooking pot with their last meal onto the floor. She sends the children off to pick berries in the wood. The children’s father has done a good day’s work: he was able to sell a lot and brings plenty of food home. There is great joy. The father learns that the children are picking berries on Ilsenstein. He tells his wife about the wicked witch who lives there. In haste, father and mother go in search of the children.
Hänsel and Gretel are picking berries but eat as many as they pick. They play a game and get lost in the wood. As night falls, they become scared. They say their nightly prayer and fall asleep. Many angels appear.
The children awake to find a tempting world full of sweets, inhabited by a witch who turns out to be very dangerous. She wants to eat first Gretel and then Hänsel. Gretel frees Hänsel. Together they trick the witch and push her into the oven. Other children under the witch’s spell are released by her death. When the mother and father eventually find the children, their joy is great.
Set Design & Costume Design
Children's Choir of the Semperoper Dresden
Ladies of Sinfoniechor Dresden – Extrachor der Semperoper Dresden
Generously supported by the Stiftung Semperoper – Förderstiftung