Hänsel und Gretel, 2013
Hänsel Claudia Huckle
Gretel Anna Devin
Father/Peter William Dazeley
Mother/Gertrud Yvonne Howard
Dew Fairy Ruth Jenkins
Witch Susan Bickley
Conductor Martin André
Director Olivia Fuchs
Designer Niki Turner
Garsington Opera Orchestra and Children's Chorus
Hänsel and Gretel, the children of a poor broom-maker, have been left at home to do their chores. When Hänsel complains of being hungry, Gretel con des that a neighbour has given them some milk and that their mother is planning to make rice pudding with it. They forget about their work and start dancing around the room. The Mother comes home exhausted and angrily rebukes the children for their laziness. As she tries to catch Hänsel she accidently knocks over the milk jug. Furious, she sends the children out into the forest to pick berries.
The Father comes home drunk, enraging the Mother even more. However, he has brought home a big bag of food, having sold all his brooms in town. They joyfully start preparing a meal until the Father asks where the children are. When the Mother explains that she has sent them into the forest, the broom-maker fears the worst. They may meet the wicked Witch who lures little children into her gingerbread house and then eats them. Deeply worried, the parents go in search of their children.
In the forest
Hänsel and Gretel have been picking berries, lling their basket to the brim. In high spirits they start playing a game, feeding each other berries one at a time. Soon Hänsel gets carried away and to Gretel’s dismay he eats them all up. They are worried about the consequences and decide to look for more, but it is dark and Hänsel confesses that he has lost his way. Gretel imagines creatures all around her lurking in the woods. Even her own echo frightens her and the children cling to each other, terri ed. When they are at their most desperate the Sandman appears. Throwing sand in their eyes he sends them to sleep, promising them beautiful dreams. Having said a prayer, the children lie down and dream a marvellous dream.
The gingerbread house
At sunrise the Dew Fairy comes to wake the children. They tell each other of their dream and then to their surprise and delight they discover the Witch’s gingerbread house. As they nibble hungrily at the house, they hear a voice, but they continue gorging themselves on the delicious cake until the Witch appears and grabs them. She promises them more delicacies if they come inside, but they are suspicious and try to escape.
The Witch casts a spell, immobilising the children, and locks Hänsel in a cage. She then sends Gretel off for more food to fatten him up and decides, in the meantime, to eat Gretel straight away. She stokes the re in the oven and celebrates in anticipation of her imminent roast dinner. Gretel, however, has paid attention to the Witch’s spells and when she has turned her back she releases Hänsel from his imprisonment. The Witch orders Gretel to check the oven but she pretends not to know how, and asks the Witch to show her what to do. As the Witch peers into the oven, the children creep up behind her and push her in. They dance around joyfully until they discover many other children, who have been held captive by the Witch. Hänsel and Gretel release them, their Mother and Father arrive and they all join together in celebration.