Julien Benhamou/OnP

Dates / Prix

Palais Garnier - First performance on 20 November 2014 - 7:30PM

Ticket rates : 25€, 45€, 70€, 120€, 190€, 210€
28 Nov 25€, 49€, 77€, 132€, 209€, 231€
1 Dec 25€, 40€, 63€, 108€, 171€, 189€

Running time : 2H18 with one interval

November 2014
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December 2014
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Fermer


Hänsel et Gretel
HUMPERDINCK
Presentation
Pre-performance reading
HÄNSEL UND GRETEL
Fairy tale opera in three scenes (1893)
MUSIC BY ENGELBERT HUMPERDINCK (1854-1921)
Libretto by ADELHEID WETTE after the Grimm brothers' fairy tale
Performed in german

In 1881, the twenty-seven-year-old Engelbert Humperdinck became Richard Wagner’s assistant in Bayreuth. Wagner had two more years to live. These two years of intense artistic collaboration on Parsifal indelibly marked the young composer’s life and style. In 1883, the Master died, leaving his disciple “incomplete”. He became a wanderer, travelling throughout Europe, eventually becoming a renowned teacher. Ten years later, in Weimar, Humperdinck completed his masterpiece, Hänsel und Gretel. His sister wrote the libretto, inspired by the Grimm brothers’ fairy tale.
The opera premiered at Christmas under the enthusiastic baton of Richard Strauss. Humperdinck had retained a Wagnerian taste for continuous melody and leitmotiv. However, his fairy-tale opera (Märchenoper) also drew on children’s songs and the sort of popular melodies whose origins tend to become lost in the mists of time.
The result is music that astounds, as deep as the lakes of Germanic legends but at the same time strangely familiar. It conjures up memories of our forgotten childhood as though once, long ago, we ourselves were that very brother and sister lost in the forest, trapped in the grasp of the witch with her gingerbread house.

Yves Abel Conductor
Mariame Clément Stage director
Julia Hansen Sets and costumes
Philippe Berthomé Lighting
Mathieu Guilhaumon Choreography
ArtisteNoteRôle
Jochen Schmeckenbecher
Peter
Irmgard Vilsmaier
Gertrud
Andrea Hill
Hänsel
Bernarda Bobro
Gretel
Doris Lamprecht
Die Knusperhexe
Elodie Hache
Sandmännchen
Olga Seliverstova
Taumännchen
Paris Opera Orchestra and Chorus

Maîtrise des Hauts-de-Seine⁄ Paris Opera children's Chorus

The composer

Engelbert Humperdinck was born in Siegburg (North Rhine-Westphalia) on September 1st 1854. He showed a gift for music at an early age and despite opposition from his father, who wanted him to become an architect, he entered the Cologne conservatory in 1872 where he studied under Ferdinand Hiller. In 1876 he was awarded a grant which allowed him to move to Munich where he was taught by Franz Lachner and Josef Rheinberger. In 1879 he was awarded the Mendelssohn Scholarship in Berlin which gave him the means to spend time in Italy. In 1880, in Naples, he met Richard Wagner, of whom he was a fervent admirer. Wagner immediately took him into his trust and invited him to work with him in Bayreuth on the production of Parsifal. Wagner’s death in 1883 profoundly affected him.
In 1889, he became the teacher of Siegfried Wagner, son of Richard and Cosima. After spending some time in France and Spain, he returned to Germany and in 1890 he became a teacher at the Frankfurt conservatory as well as a teacher of harmony at the Stockhausen singing school.
Engelbert Humperdinck devoted himself first and foremost to the voice. He composed several choral works, a Maurische Rhapsodie (Moorish Rhapsody) and a Humoreske for orchestra. Of his seven operas, only Hänsel und Gretel and to a lesser degree, Königskinder (King’s Children) have passed into posterity. In 1900, Humperdinck was made a member of the Academy of Arts and a professor of composition in Berlin. On several occasions, he collaborated with director Max Reinhardt who commissioned incidental music from him for several of Shakespeare’s plays. He travelled to New York in 1910 for the American premiere of his opera Königskinder where he befriended Puccini. Between 1914 and 1918, he composed several occasional works: Benedictus, Hymn for Wilhelm II, Song of the Black Eagle... In 1919, his final opera, Gaudeamus, scenes from the life of a German student, was first performed in Darmstadt under the direction of Erich Kleiber. Humperdinck died in Neustrelitz in 1921 following a heart attack.

The work

In 1890, Engelbert Humperdinck’s sister Adelheid Wette asked him to compose the music for a children’s performance based on a tale by the Grimm brothers (Jacob, (1785-1863) and Wilhelm (1786-1859)) which she hoped to organize for her husband’s birthday. The project quickly evolved and gave rise to the definitive libretto of the Märchenoper which was completed in December 1890. Compared to the Grimm tale, Adelheid Wette’s libretto was greatly simplified for reasons of dramatic effectiveness, but also to limit the length and even violence of the original. The work was enriched with children’s songs and popular melodies evoking Brahms‘ Volkslieder. Strongly influenced by Wagner, the composer drew inspiration from continuous melody and the notion of the leitmotiv with the use of recurrent themes. The work was an immediate success. Within months, Hänsel und Gretel had made a name for itself on stages throughout Germany. Gustav Mahler conducted the work in Hamburg in 1894. Hänsel & Gretel would become the first opera to be rebroadcast by radio in Europe (from Covent Garden on January 6th, 1923).

The first performance

Hänsel & Gretel was first performed at the Hoftheater in Weimar on December 23rd, 1893 under the baton of Richard Strauss.

The work at the Paris Opera

Hänsel & Gretel was first performed in Paris at the Opéra Comique on May 30th 1900 in a production by Albert Carré, conducted by André Messager, in a French version by Catulle Mendès. The work entered the Paris Opera’s repertoire in 2013.

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