Hansel and Gretel
Libretto by Adelheid Wette, based on the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm
World premiere: Weimar, Court Theater, December 23, 1893
In Hansel and Gretel’s house. Hansel complains he is hungry. Gretel shows him some milk that a neighbor has given for the family’s supper. The children dance. Their mother returns and wants to know why they have gotten so little work done. She accidentally spills the milk and chases the children out into the woods to pick strawberries.
Their father, a broom-maker, returns home drunk. He brings out the food he has bought, then asks where the children have gone. The mother tells him that she has sent them into the woods. He tells her about the Witch who lives there and says that the children are in danger. They go out into the woods to look for them.
Hansel picks strawberries. The children hear a cuckoo singing and eat the strawberries. Soon they have eaten every one. In the sudden silence of the wood, Hansel admits to Gretel that he has lost the way. The children grow frightened. The Sandman comes to bring them sleep, sprinkling sand over their eyes. The children say their evening prayer. In a dream, they see 14 angels.
The Dew Fairy comes to waken the children. Gretel wakes Hansel, and they see the gingerbread house. They end up in the Witch’s kitchen. The Witch decides to fatten Hansel up and casts a spell on him. The oven is hot. Gretel breaks the Witch’s spell and sets Hansel free. When the Witch asks her to look in the oven, she pretends she doesn’t know how to: the Witch must show her. When the Witch peers into the oven, the children shove her inside and shut the door. The oven explodes. The gingerbread children come back to life. The mother and father find the children, and all express gratitude for their salvation.
—Courtesy Welsh National Opera