Hänsel und Gretel (1965 production) - Synopsis

Hänsel und Gretel. Laura Tatulescu (Gretel), Heike Grötzinger (Knusperhexe), Okka von der Damerau (H Hänsel und Gretel. Laura Tatulescu (Gretel), Okka von der Damerau (Hänsel) Hänsel und Gretel.  Okka von der Damerau (Hänsel), Laura Tatulescu (Gretel)

Hänsel und Gretel (1965 production)

Engelbert Humperdinck
Adelheid Wette

 

Act I

Hänsel and Gretel, a broom-maker's children, are hard at work. In hopes of cheering up her moody and hungry brother, his sister tells him a secret: a neighbor lady has brought them a pot of milk, and they will be having sweet rice pudding for supper.

In their joy, they didn't notice that their mother has returned home. Angry that the children are dancing around the room instead of getting their work done, she comes after them with a stick. In the course of this, she bumps into the table knocking over the milk. Now they can forget the nice supper, and the two children are sent off into the woods to get some berries to replace their meal.

Shortly thereafter, their father comes back from town, overjoyed and a little tipsy. His brooms have sold well, and he is bringing some tasty treats for dinner. His joy evaporates however, when he hears that his children are out in the woods alone. The parents go off looking for Hänsel and Gretel.

 

Act II

Gretel sits under a tree binding some flowers into a wreath. Hänsel comes over with a basket full of freshly picked strawberries.

The cuckoo calls. Engrossed in frolicking and nibbling, the children forget they were supposed to bring home some food for supper. Night falls. Hänsel has lost his way, and the children start getting frightened.

They lay down on a mossy hill: the Sandman comes and puts them to sleep. Angels climb down a golden staircase and watch over them.

 

Act III

The Dew Fairy arrives in the morning and wakes the children up. While they tell one another their dreams, the mists suddenly divide - and they see a gingerbread house in front of them. Covered with icing and magnificent gingerbread, it tempts Hänsel and Gretel to come closer; even a menacing voice asking questions doesn't bother the hungry children.

Then the Witch comes sneaking up, catching Hänsel in a snare. She locks him in a cage because he has to be fattened up so he can later become a tasty roast. The Witch heats up the bake oven and rides around gleefully on her broom.

First it's Gretel's turn, but she tricks the Witch. When the Witch tells her to crawl into the oven to check for gingerbread, she tells her she must first show her how to do it. As soon as she sticks her head into the oven, Hänsel and Gretel pounce on her, push the Witch into the oven and lock the door. This sends the roof of the oven flying into the air, and the gingerbread figures are changed back into boys and girls. In their place, the Witch now appears baked into a huge gingerbread cake. A heavenly court has condemned her to fall victim to her own sorcery.

English translation by Donald Arthur

© Bavarian State Opera