Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes with one intermission
Premiered on 8 October 2017
For children of any age
One of the best world operas for children is at the Novaya Opera now!
Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel was premiered in the Weimar court theatre in 1893 and was conducted by Richard Strauss. After less than a year it was conducted by Gustav Mahler in Hamburg. The libretto based on the Grimm brothers' fairy tale was written by Humperdinck's sister Adelheid Wette. In Moscow this amazing fairy opera is known as The Gingerbread House or Hänsel und Gretel.
Stage director Ekaterina Odegova calls her production an all-family show. Transcending the boundaries of the children’s theatre, the production team has filled the performance with bright costumes and sets, interactive and funny stage scenes (for children) and overtones and cultural allusions (for their parents).
“Let’s recall one of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s most popular quotes: “All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it (The Little Prince). It is sad, because children are in many ways another universe, sincere and pure. The child’s soul addresses the best we have.
The opera Hänsel und Gretel excites by the recovery of memories and expectation of a miracle. To find oneself and each other one has to go through trials: to travel through a forest and to conquer evil. This is the only way for people to magically regenerate: Humperdinck’s opera is an example of late Romanticism with its idea of transformation. The central points are romantic bi-worldness, reality and fantasy with the anxiety and divination of the forest. Here is the final of the forest poetry by Weber, Mendelssohn, Schubert and Wagner, who had major influence on Humperdinck. Hänsel und Gretel charms with the orchestra’s intensive life with an extensive system of leitmotifs. This “mini-Wagner” piece is a poetic sketch of the German forest after Wagner’s Siegfried. The most successful musical interpretation of the Grimm brothers’ great fairy-tale Hänsel und Gretel crowns a whole musical subgenre in Germany in the 19th century, the fairylike opera (Märchenoper). Humperdinck skillfully combined the innovations of Wagner’s mythological drama with the rich life of German tradition. Like Hänsel and Gretel, the poetic unit of folklore and fantasy found its nichewithout losing its way in the forest of mythology with its tasty-looking but dangerous gingerbreads.
It is probably the best opera for children (it is produced all over the world!); the fairy-tale is certainly meant for both children and adults. It takes place on Christmas Eve, when the miracle comes to the world and brings harmony. It is achieved throughthe children’s deeds: they atone for anyevil that infects the adults. Children are better than us. Together with them we can feel the special happiness of the world’s harmony and direct our eyes to God”.