Home > Haensel und Gretel
|Humperdinck, E. (1854-1921)
First performed December 23, 1893.
Libretto by Adelheid Wette (in German),
after the Brothers Grimm.
|A Summary of “Hansel and Gretel”
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.
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.
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
Breaking the Witch’s magic, many children could escape from the house. Haensel and Gretel’s parents arrived, and the whole family was pleased to be safe.
The Witch... is baked and becomes a delicious cookie.
|A Comment on “Hansel and Gretel”
|The original work of this opera is the famous Grimms'
Fairy Tales. Not only children but also adults can enjoy it. This opera’s
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, “Hansel
und Gretel” has become a standard opera now.
Humperdinck was one of Richard Wagner’s private
pupils. In the post- Wagner era, the mainstream of the western opera world changed
from German opera to Italian “verismo opera.” Probably, only Humperdinck
succeeded as an opera composer from Wagner’s pupils. As mentioned above, “Hansel
und Gretel” is a fairy tale for children, but all people can
enjoy the music by Humperdinck who mastered Wagner’s 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 Wagner’s style being used. The children’s
chorus of a part of the last scene is especially beautiful. This children’s
chorus is, in other words, “healing music.” If you would like to show your
children an opera, I recommend you show them this opera “Hansel
und Gretel” or Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.”
|Gluck, C. W. (1714-1787)
- Orpheus and Eurydice
Mozart, W. A. (1756-1791)
- The Marriage of Figaro
- Don Giovanni
- Cosi fan tutte
- The Magic Flute
Beethoven, L. v. (1770-1827)
Weber, C. M. v. (1786-1826)
- The Magic Bullets
Rossini, G. (1792-1868)
- The Barber of Seville
Donizetti, G. (1797-1848)
- The Elixir of Love
Verdi, G. (1813-1901)
- Il trovatore
- La Traviata
- Un ballo in maschera
- Don Carlo
Wagner, R. (1813-1883)
- The Flying Dutchman
- Tristan und Isolde
- Die Meistersinger von Nuernberg
- The Rhinegold
- Die Walkure
- Twilight of the Gods
Offenbach, J. (1819-1880)
- The Tales of Hoffmann
Strauss, J. (1825-1899)
- Die Fledermaus (The Bat)
Bizet, G. (1838-1875)
Tchaikovsky, P. J. (1840-1893)
- Eugene Onegin
Massenet, J. (1842-1912)
Humperdinck, E. (1854-1921)
- Hansel and Gretel
Puccini, G. (1858-1924)
- La Boheme
- Madama Butterfly
Leoncavallo, R. (1858-1919)
Mascagni, P. (1863-1945)
- Cavalleria Rusticana
Debussy, C. (1862-1918)
- Pelleas et Melisande
Strauss, R. (1864-1949)
- The Cavalier of the Rose
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