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Hansel und Gretel

Hansel und Gretel

Hansel und Gretel  Royal Opera House  12-12-2008
Engelbert Humperdinck
Royal Opera House
2008
Hänsel und Gretel, Opera written by the German composer Engelbert Humperdinck was greeted with extraordinary success from the German public of the time. Confirmed by the fact that the first three representations, in the German cities of Weimar, Munich and Karlsruhe, were directed by musicians such as Richard Strauss, Herman Levi and Felix Mottl. The opera was widespread even outside Germany. In 1954 it was even adapted in a stop-motion animation film, which included spoken dialogue and also Engelbert Humperdinck's music, sung in English rather than the original German.

Synopsis Hansel und Gretel

ACT I
Hansel and Gretel are two children of a poor family. They are both hungry but they have to keep on doing the jobs assigned to them by the parents. Gretel confesses to the brother that the mother has received a jug of milk which she'll use to make a rice pudding that evening. Hansel, excited, starts dancing around the room and the sister joins him. When the mother comes back and sees the children haven't finished their jobs, she threatens them to beat them with a stick but she accidentally knocks over the jug of milk. Now furious for the waste, she sends them to the Ilsenstein forest to look for strawberries. Once she's alone, she feels sorry for not being able to feed her own children and cries for God's help. When the father comes back home, he shows her a bag full of food, which was bought with the money from the sell of the brooms he makes. In the village beyond the forest, in fact, is almost time for a festival and everyone is getting ready for it by cleaning. The father asks about the children and when the wife tells him about the forest, he rushes out to look for them. He knows that in the forest lives a witch who attracts the children with sweets and cakes to catch them and put them in an oven which turns them into gingerbread that she eats.

ACT II
The two children are in the forest. They've found some strawberries but they end up eating them all. When they realise the trouble, it's too late to look for other strawberries: the forest is too dark and the children start feeling scared because they don't know how to find their way back home. All of a sudden, a man comes out from the bushes: the children scream scared but the man reassures them and puts them to sleep with a spell.

ACT III
The children are awaken in the morning by the Dew Fairy. Looking around, they notice a gingerbread house. The roof, the walls and the windows are in fact cakes, licorice and sweets. The children can't resist and they move closer to the roof, tearing off a piece to eat it. Behind a fence, they see many gingerbread children. The witch comes out of the house and catches Hansel with a rope. She tells the children she only wants them to eat cakes but they are suspicious and try to run away. The witch uses the magic wound and blocks them, then puts Hansel in a cage. The witch's plan is to fatten up Hansel to turn him into gingerbread and to eat Gretel but the two children are smart and manage to set themselves free, they hold the magic wound and send the witch in the oven which explodes. The children are free, so are all the others behind the fence and now they have gone back to human appearances. When Hansel and Gretel's parents arrive, the children run to hug them, happy and proud to be still alive.

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