Deutsche Oper Berlin

Hansel and Gretel


Bismarckstraße 35, 10627 Berlin

Engelbert Humperdinck


The Grimm fairy tale is well-known, Humperdinck's score oscillates between nursery rhyme and late romantic, opulent Wagnerian sound. Andreas Homoki's lovingly child-friendly production of the Christmas opera classic has been in the repertoire of the theatre for almost 25 years and continues to inspire children, parents and grandparents for the world of musical theatre.

About the work
Hansel and Gretel, children of a poor broom maker and his wife, are sent into the woods one day by their mother to pick berries – as punishment for larking around instead of doing their chores. When their father arrives home bearing a bag full of treats after a successful working day, he berates his wife, because the woods are home to an evil witch. The parents set off to look for the kids, who have meanwhile filled their baskets but then eaten all the berries themselves out of sheer hunger. They also realise darkness has fallen and they’re lost, so they lie down for the night and say their prayers, falling asleep and having a strange and wonderful dream. In the morning they wake to see a cottage made of gingerbread and other sweetmeats. Nibbling at the house, they are surprised by the witch, who takes them captive, planning to bake the children in her oven. Instead, they play a trick on her and push her into her own oven. The spell is broken and all the children who had been transformed into gingerbread by the witch regain their human form. The pair’s parents appear and the reunited family returns home.

For over a century Engelbert Humperdinck’s "Hansel and Gretel" has enjoyed a reputation as one of the most popular operas for all the family. Humperdinck could not resist rendering the story – a dramatic tale for children and adults alike – as a piece of musical theatre, a two-hour symphonic masterpiece peppered with hummable tunes. Translated into over twenty languages, the work remains the first contact for many children with the world of opera. The score does not conceal its debt to Wagner but does not rely on his aura in attracting the uninitiated either. Evergreen numbers of the likes of “Ein Männlein steht im Walde”, “Abends wenn ich schlafen geh’, vierzehn Englein um mich stehn” or “Der kleine Sandmann bin ich” guide audiences through the exposition and remain lodged in the memory long after the auditorium has emptied.

About the production
Andreas Homoki and set designer Wolfgang Gussmann take a linear, child-friendly approach to the story, bringing a levity and poetic imagery to the opulent music that are best exemplified in the nocturnal woodland scenes. There is no shortage of excitement and spine-chilling moments, and the dramatic appearance of the witch, eagerly awaited by younger audience members in particular, includes a humorous touch. Children aged 8 and upwards can enjoy Humperdinck’s tale of good triumphing over evil, in which Gretel und Hansel, by virtue of pluck and imagination, free not only themselves but all the other kids from the clutches of the witch.

“Director Andreas Homoki is not about to exploit the opera to make precious psychological points or send ideological messages. He just wants to mount a musical play for kids. And that’s what he sets about doing – intelligently and playfully …”
[Deutschland Radio Köln]


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Deutsche Oper Berlin

Bismarckstraße 35, 10627 Berlin-Charlottenburg

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