Humperdinck's 'Hansel and Gretel' is your Christmas Eve Broadcast

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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christine Schäfer as Hansel and Alice Coote as Gretel Christine Schäfer as Hansel and Alice Coote as Gretel (Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera)

At 1 pm on Saturday, Christmas Eve, be sure to tune in for a special rebroadcast of Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel.

The opera premiered on Dec. 23, 1893, and along with magical themes, childlike wonder and all that gingerbread, Humperdinck's opera has become associated with the holiday season. But some might be surprised to know that Humperdinck did not originally sit down with an opera in mind. His sister asked him to compose a few songs to accompany a play she wrote for her children. Humperdinck obliged, but continued to work on it over the years until it became a fully realized operatic masterpiece.

While the peril and coming of age themes may seem to err a bit dark for children, they are a perfect match for this musical work. Hansel and Gretel is already a familiar childrens' fairy tale and it is sung in English, perfect for young ears.

The opera also enjoys a special place in Met Opera history. On Christmas Day 1931, the Met’s presentation of Hansel and Gretel was the first opera to be broadcast live over radio. It’s only fitting that we get to hear it at the same time of the year once again. The performance you will hear on Saturday is from Jan. 1, 2008.

Click here to listen to the Hansel and Gretel episode of the He Sang, She Sang podcast.


Conductor: Vladimir Jurowski

Gretel: Alice Coote

Hansel: Christine Schäfer

Gertrud: Rosalind Plowright

Witch: Alan Held

Peter: Philip Langridge

Comments [6]

michael from Richmond, VA

More corrections: Alan Held sings the baritone role of Peter, and tenor Philip Langridge sings the Witch. It's so nice to hear Rosalind Plowright is still on the operatic stage.

Ira, Witch should have been one of your masterpieces!

Happy Holidays to all!

Dec. 24 2016 02:26 PM
Ajith from Gainesville, FL

One my favorites. Memorable music!

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season!

Dec. 24 2016 02:11 PM
Ellen L Lienhard from West Chester, PA

Yes, love this opera, but am happy to be able to ignore that particularly disgusting Met production. When I saw it in the house, the fourteen angels were floating chefs!! Well, I have memories of more naturalistic productions to call upon.

May your holidays be merry and bright!

Dec. 24 2016 12:45 PM
Nick from Tampa

We can enjoy the wonderful music without watching the bizarre Met staging with no flying witch (always an audience treat) and a dream sequence with fat headed giant cooks, not counting the huge toothy mouth.

Dec. 24 2016 12:18 PM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

This opera has some fine music. Looking forward to listening to this today.
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, Kwanza one and all.

Dec. 24 2016 06:36 AM
Les from Miami, Florida

Gretel, written for a soprano, is sung by Christine Scha"fer and Ha"nsel, written for a mezzo-soprano, is sung by Alice Coote, further proof of which is that Ms. Coote is scheduled to sing the Wood Dove, a mezzo-soprano role, in Schoenberg's "Gurre-Lieder" with the famed Halle' Orchestra on 4 June 2017 conducted by Sir Mark Elder with Brandon Jovanovich as Waldemar. My beloved father told me he heard the 1931 broadcast of"Ha"nsel und Gretel". I'm one who will be enjoying this 2008 re-broadcast by imagining the Grimm fairy tale version (with a female witch that Humperdinck wrote for a mezzo-soprano) and following the orchestra score. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanza to one and all, non-believers, too; and let's all hope for a better tomorrow.

Dec. 24 2016 05:34 AM

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