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Humperdinck, E. (1854-1921)


Hansel und Gretel

Hansel and Gretel





Composed 1890-1893.
First performed December 23, 1893.
Libretto by Adelheid Wette (in German),
after the Brothers Grimm.




A Summary of gHansel and Gretelh



Act 1
Once upon a time, in Germany, Haensel and his sister, Gretel, were poor, but happy. Though, one day, they had to do household chores, they played. Their mother, Gertrude, unexpectedly came home, and she got angry. She sent them into the woods to find wild strawberries as punishment.
After Haensel and Gretel left, their father, Peter, came home. He was suprised that they had gone to the woods. There was a rumor that a Witch lived in the woods. The parents went looking for their children.

Act 2
Deep in the woods, Haensel and Gretel got enough strawberries. When they wanted to come home, they lost their way. Finally, they slept in the woods.

Act 3
Haensel and Gretel woke up, and they saw a house which was made from candy, cookies, chocolate, and cakes. They rejoiced, and began to eat them. Then, the Witch approached them from behind, and caught them.
The Witch ordered Gretel to prepare meals, and she told Gretel to fatten Haensel up.
But, Gretel robbed the Witch of a magic wand. When the Witch checked the oven heating for Haensel, Haensel and Gretel pushed her in and slam the door shut.
Breaking the Witchfs magic, many children could escape from the house. Haensel and Gretelfs parents arrived, and the whole family was pleased to be safe.
The Witch... is baked and becomes a delicious cookie.




A Comment on gHansel and Gretelh



The original work of this opera is the famous Grimms' Fairy Tales. Not only children but also adults can enjoy it. This operafs composer, Engelbert Humperdinck, received a request from his sister, to compose an opera for their family. While he was still composing it, he gave his fiancee one part of this opera as a Christmas present. The first public performance of the complete opera was performed on the 23rd, two days before Christmas in 1893, conducted by Richard Strauss, who was actually another great opera composer. This world premiere succeeded, gHansel und Gretelh has become a standard opera now.

Humperdinck was one of Richard Wagnerfs private pupils. In the post- Wagner era, the mainstream of the western opera world changed from German opera to Italian gverismo opera.h Probably, only Humperdinck succeeded as an opera composer from Wagnerfs pupils. As mentioned above, gHansel und Gretelh is a fairy tale for children, but all people can enjoy the music by Humperdinck who mastered Wagnerfs composition technique.

Humperdinck thought that he would like to compose an opera which is also liked by children. So, it is easy for beginners to listen to the music of this opera in spite of Wagnerfs style being used. The childrenfs chorus of a part of the last scene is especially beautiful. This childrenfs chorus is, in other words, ghealing music.h If you would like to show your children an opera, I recommend you show them this opera gHansel und Gretelh or Mozartfs gThe Magic Flute.h





Gluck, C. W. (1714-1787)
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Mozart, W. A. (1756-1791)

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Weber, C. M. v. (1786-1826)
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Rossini, G. (1792-1868)
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Donizetti, G. (1797-1848)
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Offenbach, J. (1819-1880)
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Strauss, J. (1825-1899)
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Tchaikovsky, P. J. (1840-1893)
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Massenet, J. (1842-1912)
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Humperdinck, E. (1854-1921)
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Puccini, G. (1858-1924)
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Leoncavallo, R. (1858-1919)
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Mascagni, P. (1863-1945)
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Debussy, C. (1862-1918)
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Strauss, R. (1864-1949)
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