A mysterious forest. A tempting gingerbread house. Two imaginative siblings embark on a precarious adventure to find something to eat when their fortunes turn for the worse. This enduring fairy tale of lost children, candy sweets and an evil witch comes to life in an enchanting holiday production of Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel – a 19th-century opera admired for its fun and folk-music-inspired themes, including the famous “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.”
Sung in English with English supertitles.
Run-time approx. 3 hours.
Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel is the perfect work to introduce little ones to opera because the rich score inspired by Wagner orchestrations is also satisfying for adult palates. A not-very-scary tale of two children overcoming a bumbling witch and freeing all the gingerbread children from her fearful spell is captivating, and young ones will be especially attentive as they see other children on stage as angels and gingerbread cookies. Of course, the singing will be captivating for everyone.
Synopsis: Hansel and Gretel
Act I, Scene 1
In Hansel and Gretel’s house
Hansel complains he is hungry. Gretel shows him some milk that a neighbor has given for the family’s supper. The children dance. Their mother returns and wants to know why they have gotten so little work done. She accidentally breaks the jug of milk and sends the children out into the woods to pick strawberries. Their father, a broom-maker, returns home very happy and quite tipsy. He brings out the food he has bought, then asks where the children have gone. The mother tells him that she has sent them into the woods. He tells her about the Witch who lives there and says that the children are in danger. They go out into the woods to look for them.
Act I, Scene 2
Hansel picks strawberries. The children hear a cuckoo singing and eat the strawberries. Soon they have eaten every one. In the sudden silence of the wood, Hansel admits to Gretel that he has lost the way. The children grow frightened. The Sandman comes to bring them sleep, sprinkling sand over their eyes. The children say their evening prayer. In a dream, they see 14 angels.
The Dew Fairy comes to waken the children. Gretel wakes Hansel, and they see the gingerbread house. They end up meeting the Witch in person and she decides to fatten Hansel up and casts a spell on him. The Witch asks Gretel to look in the oven and she pretends she doesn’t know how: the Witch must show her. When the Witch peers into the oven Hansel and Gretel shove her inside and shut the door. The gingerbread children come back to life. The mother and father find their children, and all express gratitude for their salvation.
Introduction to Opera
At 6:30 before evening performances and at 1:30 before matinees, a free talk will be presented in the California Theatre that will acquaint you with the composer’s life, his place in the history of opera, the story and its characters. If you are attending the 1:30 or 6:30 Introduction, you must be ticketed for that day’s performance; and your ticket must be torn as you enter the building.
A one-hour preview for each 2019-20 production is presented free of charge in the third floor rehearsal hall of the California Theatre, located at 345 S. First Street. Please enter via Market Street entrance and take elevator to third floor. Moderated by GD Larry Hancock, the previews includes a lecture and performances by OSJ artists. Dates for previews are as follows:
- Die Fledermaus: September 3, 2019
- Hansel and Gretel: November 5, 2019
- Il trovatore: February 4, 2020
- The Magic Flute: April 7, 2020
All previews begin at 12 noon.
Opera at Your Doorstep Lecture Series
Increase your understanding of opera and enjoy upcoming Opera San José performances all the more by attending one of longtime OSJ subscriber Bradford Wade’s FREE previews. Dates for Die Fledermaus lecture talks will be announced in August 2019. For more information about the Opera at Your Doorstep Lecture Series and/or to RSVP, email OperaAtYourDoorstep@gmail.com.
Performances of Die Fledermaus are made possible by a Cultural Affairs grant from the the City of San Jose.