Hansel and Gretel

Hansel and Gretel

Work Title: Hansel and Gretel
Composer: Engelbert Humperdinck
Form/Instrumentation: fairy-tale opera, Libretto was written by Humperdinck’s sister, Adelheid Wette
Year(s) composed/published: written in 1891-1892, premiered on 23 December 1893
Period: 19th century
Catelog #: n/a
Movements/Sections: 3 Acts

Work Info: Hansel and Gretel (German: Hänsel und Gretel) is an opera by nineteenth-century composer Engelbert Humperdinck, who described it as a Märchenoper (fairy-tale opera). The libretto was written by Humperdinck’s sister, Adelheid Wette, based on the Grimm brothers’ fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel”. It is much admired for its folk music-inspired themes, one of the most famous being the “Abendsegen” (“Evening Benediction”) from act 2.

The idea for the opera was proposed to Humperdinck by his sister, who approached him about writing music for songs that she had written for her children for Christmas based on “Hansel and Gretel”. After several revisions, the musical sketches and the songs were turned into a full-scale opera.

Humperdinck composed Hansel and Gretel in Frankfurt in 1891 and 1892. The opera was first performed in Hoftheater in Weimar on 23 December 1893, conducted by Richard Strauss. It has been associated with Christmas since its earliest performances and today it is still most often performed at Christmas time.


  1. Full Opera, Filmed in Vienna, 1981
    • Hänsel……….Brigitte Fassbaender, mezzo-soprano
    • Gretel……….Edita Gruberova, soprano
    • Peter (their father)……….Hermann Prey, baritone
    • Gertrud (their mother)……….Helga Dernesch, soprano & mezzo-soprano
    • Die Knusperhexe (the witch)……….Sena Jurinac, soprano & mezzo-soprano
    • Sandmännchen (Sandman)……….Norma Burrowes, soprano
    • Taumännchen (Dew Fairy)……….Elfriede Hobarth, soprano
      • Wiener Philharmoniker
      • Conductor: Georg Solti
      • Direction: August Everding
  2. A Carnegie Hall Christmas Concert, Hänsel und Gretel: Abendsegen “Evening Prayer” · Kathleen Battle / Frederica von Stade

Full Opera, Filmed in Vienna, 1981 A Carnegie Hall Christmas Concert, 1991

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