Traditionally, the last premiere of the year in the Hungarian State Opera is a fairy-tale opera in the festive season. In 2017, they will stage Hansel and Gretel.
The new production is directed by Rafael R. Villalobos, winner of the Opera Europa directorial competition in Graz. This is not the Hansel and Gretel you may be used to, however: while it welcomes adults, the production is not recommended for children under 10.
The opera’s composer, the Wagnerian Engelbert Humperdinck, was one of the most important figures in the German opera scene. The success of his “Märchenoper”, composed to a libretto by his own sister, Adelheid Wette, convinced him to write a full-evening children’s opera based on the famous story, Hansel and Gretel, by the Grimm Brothers.
The piece became a big success, after composer Richard Strauss, who conducted the fairy-tale opera on the premiere in Weimar, declared it a masterpiece.
“Humperdinck’s opera deals with various themes, all of a markedly social nature. Standing out among them, due to the numerous references to it throughout the piece, is Work. Adults and children alike in this story, at once fable and drama, live under its yoke, forced to work until they drop, their effort largely unrewarded. The resulting frustration traps the characters in a gloomy and depressing spiral” – said the director. “The difficult, but not impossible, task I set myself is therefore that of creating two parallel worlds in which adults and children can enjoy themselves while at the same time reflecting on the real world they live in.”
Conducted by János Kovács of the Hungarian State Opera, the production features leading singers of the theatre, such as Judit Németh and Bernadett Wiedemann in the role of the witch, Atala Schöck and Lúcia Megyesi Schwartz as Gertrud, the mother, and Csaba Szegedi and Zsolt Haja as Peter, the father. They are joined by young talents Gabriella Balga and Zsófia Kálnay as Hänsel and Nóra Ducza and Helga Nánási as Gretel.
Venue: Erkel Theatre
Premiere: 9 December 2017
Further dates: 10, 12, 14, 19 December 2017