Conductor: Christian Knapp
Vanya: Evelina Agabalaeva
Masha: Margarita Ivanova
The Father: Dmitry Fyodorov
The Mother: Olga Bobrovskaya
The Witch: Regina Rustamova
The Sandman: Emilia Ablaeva
The Good Fairy: Yekaterina Latysheva
Chorus of Angels – ensemble of soloists of the Mariinsky Academy of Young Opera Singers
The enchanting musical fairy-tale by Engelbert Humperdinck (1854 – 1921) is well known throughout Europe – it is a standard repertoire piece at Christmas-time. The idea of making a children’s production to be performed at home based on the horror fairy-tale by the Brothers Grimm belonged to the composer’s sister Adelheid Wette who also wrote the libretto. Having evolved into a full-scale adult romantic opera, Humperdinck’s spicy fairy-tale was popular not just in Germany (where it was premiered in 1893 in Weimar under the baton of Richard Strauss) but in Russia too.
In Russia Hänsel und Gretel was first staged in St Petersburg at the Panayev Theatre (1896) and later in Moscow, at the Bolshoi Theatre (under the title of The Gingerbread House) as well as at the Mamontov Opera. At the Mariinsky Theatre Hänsel und Gretel was first performed on 24 October 1897. Then the opera was performed in Russian albeit using the original title, the translation having been produced by Yekaterina Kletnova.
“The music of this opera is an unusual combination of colours – music intended for children together with a very late layering representing the quintessence of the Wagnerian style, assimilated by all German composers of the age”, noted the critic Mikhail Ivanov of The New Age. “As a brilliant theoretician and Wagnerian, Humperdinck created a complex polyphonic fabric, in particular when indicating the stage positions. But the demands of the plot forced him to turn to children’s songs (even including the famous Ach, du lieber Augustin), waltzes and so on, which imbued his opus with the character of a short operetta. For children and admirers who do not make any particular demands, this lightness of Humperdinck’s music, despite the heavy artillery he has developed, will guarantee success.”