Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel” for children
02 Dec 2006
Hansel and Gretel (abridged version in German) (66 min.)
Klaus Wallendorf Presenter, Susan Bullock Soprano (Gertrud), Franz Grundheber Baritone (Peter), Jane Henschel Contralto (The Gingerbread Witch), Katarina Karnéus Mezzo-Soprano (Hansel), Michaela Kaune Soprano (Gretel), Susanne Kreusch Mezzo-Soprano (Little Sandman), Gisela Stille Sopran (Little Dew Fairy), Children’s choir of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Rundfunk-Kinderchor Berlin der Georg-Friedrich-Händel-Oberschule
It is fairy-tale time at the Philharmonie! Horn player and presenter Klaus Wallendorf welcomes “children and former children” to Engelbert Humperdinck’s opera Hänsel und Gretel, which he carefully abridged and supplied rhyming texts to connect the musical elements.
The audience of this concert performance consists of the young and the not so young, some of whom are allowed to sit among the musicians to see at close quarters how an orchestra works. An eight-year-old boy from the audience even gets the chance to conduct the Berliner Philharmoniker – something many adult conductors can only dream of – though only during the “ride of the witch” in the first act.
The actual conductor of the concert is Sir Mark Elder, music director of the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester since 2000. Together with the Berliner Philharmoniker and an outstanding ensemble of singers, he brings out the wealth of beauty the score has to offer: the romantic forest atmosphere, the festive orchestration, the wonderful melodies, some of which have almost become folk songs, such as “Brother, come and dance with me”. However, we never lose sight of the fun and excitement of the fairy tale: at the end, all the children at the concert help to free Hänsel und Gretel from the clutches of the witch with a magic spell, so everyone lives happily ever after.