The Royal Opera Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel

The Royal Opera Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel is this season’s new production . Based on the Grimm brother’s fairytale of two children lost in the woods and an evil witch who wants to turn children in to gingerbread.

The utterly charming and beautifully sung classic christmas adaptation of this fairytale is the perfect introduction for children into the world of opera.

Hansel und Gretel by Humperdinck; Royal Opera House; Covent Garden; London, UK; 8 December 2018; Hanna Hipp as Hansel; Jennifer Davis as Gretel (left); Sebastian Weigle – conductor; Antony McDonald – Director/Designer; Lucy Carter – Lighting designer; Lucy Burge – Movement director; Photo: © ROH Photographer: CLIVE BARDA;

Engaging sets and enticing music

The Royal Opera’s new production marks 125 years since Hansel and Gretel’s premiere on 23 December 1893, where Richard Strauss conducted the opera’s first performance in Weimar. The Opera was a great success and it reached Londons Covent Garden in 1894. Humperdinck’s score is a combination of upbeat folksongs, with orchestral melodies to whisk you away to another world.

This Opera is Sung in German with surtitles in English displayed just above the stage. I did not find this distracting and it was quite nice to really get a feel for the lyrics, however you did not need to read this as it was easy to follow what was going on by their actions on stage.

 The whole production has fantastic engaging sets and all the while a giant beetle and a fly silently glide around the stage with a giant Bavarian cuckoo clock silently ticking.

Act I A humble wooden shack

The first act is set in Bavaria in a humble wooden shack where Hansel and Gretel live with thier parents. When their parents are out during the day the childrens job is to to make brooms for their father to sell in market. When Hansel and gretels mother Gertrud returns home the children have been playing and she is angry and knocks over a jug of cream that was for thier supper. Gertrud sends them out to find strawberries for tea and they become lost in the woods. The act was joyous and the music frivolous and it was quite funny to see Hansel and Gretel behaving badly!

Hansel und Gretel by Humperdinck; Royal Opera House; Covent Garden; London, UK; 8 December 2018; Left to right: Michaela Schuster as Gertrud; Hanna Hipp as Hansel; Jennifer Davis as Gretel; James Rutherford as Peter; Sebastian Weigle – conductor; Antony McDonald – Director/Designer; Lucy Carter – Lighting designer; Lucy Burge – Movement director; Photo: © ROH Photographer: CLIVE BARDA;
Hansel und Gretel by Humperdinck; Royal Opera House; Covent Garden; London, UK; 8 December 2018; Hanna Hipp as Hansel; Jennifer Davis as Gretel (left); Sebastian Weigle – conductor; Antony McDonald – Director/Designer; Lucy Carter – Lighting designer; Lucy Burge – Movement director; Photo: © ROH Photographer: CLIVE BARDA;

Act II Snippets of humorous touches

The second act is really where the magic happens, the scene of the woods is dark and scary and the children hunt for strawberries and make flower garlands. Before long the cuckoo warns that dusk is fast approaching and they realise it is too late to find their way home in the dark.  The sand man appears to lull the children in to sleep and sing them a song. Hansel and Gretel drift away and are joined by more Grimm fairytale creatures who watch over them. The Dramatic set of twisted trees is suddenly lit with characters such as a dancing Wilo the wisp, Snow White and even Rapunzel. Prince Charming parades through the woods with his glass slipper, Who will it fit? will he find his princess?

Snippets of the show were lit with humorous touches throughout such as when the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood adorned with grandmas bonnet tried the glass slipper!

Hansel und Gretel by Humperdinck; Royal Opera House; Covent Garden; London, UK; 8 December 2018; Hanna Hipp as Hansel (rt); Jennifer Davis as Gretel; Haegee Lee as Sandman; Sebastian Weigle – conductor; Antony McDonald – Director/Designer; Lucy Carter – Lighting designer; Lucy Burge – Movement director; Photo: © ROH Photographer: CLIVE BARDA;
Hansel und Gretel by Humperdinck; Royal Opera House; Covent Garden; London, UK; 8 December 2018; Hanna Hipp as Hansel; Jennifer Davis as Gretel; Gerhard Siegel as Witch; Michaela Schuster as Gertrud; James Rutherford as Peter; Haegee Lee as Sandman; Anita Watson as Dew Fairy; Sebastian Weigle – conductor; Antony McDonald – Director/Designer; Lucy Carter – Lighting designer; Lucy Burge – Movement director; Photo: © ROH Photographer: CLIVE BARDA;

Act III Pure magic with a dark twist!

In the the third scene the Dew fairy awakens the children from their slumber. They soon realise they are still in the woods and set about finding their way home only to stumble across a house made entirely of cake. The huge house has a similar resemblance to that of the Bates Motel house found in the film Physco. Not the cute gingerbread house I imagined but rather a more macabre version of the witches house with a huge cherry on top and large knife slicing through it. The house was more in keeping with the dark side of Grimm’s Fairytales and perfect for the pantomime dame of a witch that lived inside.

Of course we all know the witch falls in to the cooking pot to meet her fate but I was pleasantly surprised to see the children of the ROH youth Opera company appear as enchanted gingerbread children who are finally freed. Overall the Singing was superb particularly that of Hansel ( Hannah Hipp ) and Gretel ( Jennifer Davis ) who had me mesmerised from the start. The costumes were delightful along with the sets. Pure magic with a dark twist!

Hansel und Gretel by Humperdinck; Royal Opera House; Covent Garden; London, UK; 8 December 2018; Hanna Hipp as Hansel (left); Jennifer Davis as Gretel; Gerhard Siegel as Witch; Sebastian Weigle – conductor; Antony McDonald – Director/Designer; Lucy Carter – Lighting designer; Lucy Burge – Movement director; Photo: © ROH Photographer: CLIVE BARDA;
Hansel und Gretel by Humperdinck; Royal Opera House; Covent Garden; London, UK; 8 December 2018; Hanna Hipp as Hansel; Jennifer Davis as Gretel; Children’s chorus; Sebastian Weigle – conductor; Antony McDonald – Director/Designer; Lucy Carter – Lighting designer; Lucy Burge – Movement director; Photo: © ROH Photographer: CLIVE BARDA;

The Royal Opera House has been transformed for Christmas

The Opera House has not long undergone some renovations and the new main foyer is large and contemporary. This year the christmas decorations focus on Hansel and Gretel with a huge cherry in the foyer and a christmas tree to match. Full of flora and gingerbread men, be sure not to miss them.

Did you know the Royal Opera offer Friday Rush Tickets?

Hansel and Gretel has performances on 21, 27 and 29 December 2018.

You can also look out for Friday rush tickets for the Royal opera house for all of their performances last minute. These are offered every friday from 1pm and is a great way to get last minute tickets for sold out shows. You may purchase two tickets per person.

The perfect way to spend christmas

The Royal Opera Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel was magical in everyday and so unbelievably artistic. I felt like a child once more remembering all of the characters and being whisked away in to a dreamy world. This I have to say was my first visit to the Royal Opera and it will definitely not be my last . I can not believe it has taken me so long to attend an opera! I have always been a great lover of the theatre and this is just one step beyond. This great christmas production is perfect for a festive treat for adults and children alike I can not think of a better way to spend an afternoon or evening with the family.

The Royal Opera house is truly iconic in itself, why not stop by and visit the new Foyer and also have a tipple? it it really impressive.

D x

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