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Fri, Mar 15


McConnell Arts Center

Open Dress Rehearsal WCO/The Ohio State University Opera Theatre, Mar 15, 7:30 pm

WCO joins forces with The Ohio State University Opera Theatre program for a production of Engelbert Humperdinck's timeless opera, Hansel and Gretel, taking the stage at the MAC.

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Open Dress Rehearsal WCO/The Ohio State University Opera Theatre, Mar 15, 7:30 pm
Open Dress Rehearsal WCO/The Ohio State University Opera Theatre, Mar 15, 7:30 pm

Time & Location

Mar 15, 2024, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM EDT

McConnell Arts Center, 777 Evening St, Worthington, OH 43085, USA

About the event

Antoine T. Clark, conductor

Eric Gibson, opera stage director


Engelbert Humperdinck: Hansel and Gretel

Engelbert Humperdinck’s beloved opera Hansel and Gretel was born from simple circumstances, starting out as a modest request from his sister Adelheid Wette. Wette often prepared plays for her children to perform and had decided to put on a puppet show for Christmas of 1889 based on the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel from the Brothers Grimm. She prepared the text herself, but wanted four special songs for the performance and naturally appealed to her composer brother for help. The resulting pieces turned out so well that Humperdinck expanded the music into a singspiel (a play with both spoken dialogue and musical numbers) and eventually converted Hansel and Gretel into a full-length opera using his sister’s text as the libretto. The opera was composed and orchestrated in Frankfurt between 1891 and 1892 and had its premiere in Weimar at the Hoftheater on December 23, 1893, with Richard Strauss conducting. It met with great enthusiasm from audiences and critics alike, and Strauss lauded it as “a masterpiece of the highest quality…all of it original, new, and so authentically German.”

It was in Hansel and Gretel that Humperdinck finally found his own voice as a composer in his skillful interweaving of folk-music elements and Wagnerian sophistication. He had worked closely with Wagner on the elder composer’s opera Parsifal, and Hansel and Gretel is clearly influenced by Wagner’s visionary musical ideas. This inspiration is most obvious in Humperdinck’s use of leitmotif, where short melodic phrases represent ideas and characters such as the ominous music of the Witch, the serenity of the act of prayer, and the Father’s care-free “Ra-la-la-la.” At the same time, the opera remains singable and concise with quotations from famous folk tunes and a fast-moving storyline that keeps audiences engaged. This combination of refined construction and tuneful accessibility has allowed Hansel and Gretel to flourish into the present day as Humperdinck’s best-known and most-cherished work.

Since it was meant for a children’s Christmas play, Wette’s libretto softens the scariest and most violent elements of the original fairy tale. She has added two magical characters – Sandman and Dew Fairy – to act as the children’s protectors, but hardships still remain for young Hansel and Gretel as they endure poverty, starvation, and parental abuse.


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