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The Fairytale Opera: Hänsel Und Gretel


Illustration by Nereid

This is an opera in 3 acts that Humperdinck and his sister, Adelheid Wette,  adopted from the story of Brother Grimm, “Hänsel Und Gretel”, or “The Candy House”. Even though the content is slightly different from the original work, the opera had made this fairytale well known by the world.

© Michael Pöhn

The wicked witch in “Hänsel Und Gretel” is a sweet tooth; yet, she is not sweet by heart at all.


Monika Bohinec‘s witch is a successful performance. Although she is singing the comedic melodies, she spells a devilish atmosphere for me in front of the TV, which is not only because of the apron that is splashed with terrifying blood handprints of the children who are cooked and eaten.


Monika’s facial expression tells an obsessive witch.


Her performance reminds me of those creepy characters from some movies and series: characters with hidden mania pretend to be sweet and friendly with the smile or words. What’s even worse, is that they don’t even think that their behaviour is horrible and problematic.


© Michael Pöhn

Märchenoper, which means a fairytale opera, is what Humperdinck’s “Hänsel Und Gretel” is. It was initially composed to let children enjoy the beauty of the opera as the adults do; hence, the arias are easier to understand than the grand operas.

© Michael Pöhn

I especially admire the stage design by Anthony Ward. There weren’t many transitions in this opera; instead, they use different light colours and silhouettes to create various tones of voice. I feel like watching a wonderful popup illustration book.


Without any doubt, Wiener Staatsoper’s “Hänsel Und Gretel” is a magical piece of work.


Text: Nereid @bunheadodelette_nereid

(Full interview article on Nereid, Elle Rêve)

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