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Thread: Humperdinck: Hänsel und Gretel

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Default Humperdinck: Hänsel und Gretel

    I find this opera absolutely delightful. It fulfils the maxim that a good children's story is one that can be enjoyed by adults. Sadly, misguided producers have sometimes turned it into what it was never intended to be - an exploration of child abuse or the psychological reasons behind two disturbed children pushing an old lady into an oven. No, I believe it is to be enjoyed on its own terms as the composer and his sister intended - a fairy story.
    So what recordings on CD or DVD take your fancy?

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    Senior Member Jacck's Avatar
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    it is a well-known fairy tale. When I was a kid of 3-6 years old, my mother used to tell me this fairy-tale before sleep. How the father brings the children to the wood and they get lost in the dark wood, how the old witch tries to bake them and they trick and bake her instead. It has horror elements, but I was not traumatized. Another such fairy tale is the Red Hood, where the wolf eats the grand-mother. Or some Russian fairy tales about Baba Yaga.

    the opera is of course great. I listened to it not so long ago in the Otmar Suitner recording.
    https://www.amazon.com/Humperdinck-S.../dp/B00A46GB5S

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    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    My favourite is the Karajan/Schwarzkopf/Grümmer
    Last edited by Barbebleu; Mar-25-2019 at 10:09.
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    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    Delightful opera with E. Gruberova, B. Fassbaender, & Georg Solti:



    "The opera premiered in Weimar on 23 December 1893, under the baton of Richard Strauss. With its highly original synthesis of Wagnerian techniques and traditional German folk songs, Hansel and Gretel was an instant and overwhelming success."
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Mar-25-2019 at 11:34.
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    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    I had the Cotrubas/von Stade/Pritchard on vinyl but now my CD choice is...
    51eH8EbW7oL.jpg

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    Senior Member Belowpar's Avatar
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    I can also recommend the Karajan version.

    However I googled to see if I could find a Met Broadcast I once heard and found I wrote this on here in 2016.
    Perhaps I dreamt it?

    "I also have vivid memories of a performance maybe 30 Christmasses ago, broadcast as a Texaco Matinee from the Met. Conducted by Jeffrey Tate and sung by Dawn Upshaw and (I think) Jennifer Larmore. Did the Met really do productions in English then, because that's how I recall it? It brings to mind the saying that the best pictures are generated on the Radio."

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    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    They did what I remember as a slightly abbreviated holiday version targeted to families.

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    The classic Karajan is delightful:
    Gretel.jpg

    Schwarzkopf and Grummer bring their superb voices and intelligent artistry to the two main roles and the rest of the cast is very strong. You will not miss a single word of the text with this mostly German cast who feel the idiom of this German tradition under their skin.

    Some may find the Karajan old fashioned or want a recording in modern sound and I am a fan of the Davis (who really makes the most of this score):
    Hansel.jpg

    Ludwig is the most characterful witch I have heard and Gruberova and Murray blend wonderfully in the duets for the two children. This is probably a recording of big names that you wouldn't expect in their roles (Jones as the mother was risky, but it works) and you even have Bonney and Oelze in the comprimario roles where they are perfection itself. I wouldn't be without either recording, but the Davis has the slight edge for me as I prefer his approach to the score, he really brings it alive.

    N.

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larkenfield View Post
    Delightful opera with E. Gruberova, B. Fassbaender, & Georg Solti:



    "The opera premiered in Weimar on 23 December 1893, under the baton of Richard Strauss. With its highly original synthesis of Wagnerian techniques and traditional German folk songs, Hansel and Gretel was an instant and overwhelming success."
    Thanks for posting this. The performance is fine apart from the fact the lip-synch is not well done. The children do look rather mature too.

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    I have this version from the Met and is sung in English. The kids absolutely charming and almost look the part even in HD. The production is highly traditional a glitzy but great for kids.

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Three really good recordings I have:

    image.jpeg

    image.jpeg

    image.jpeg
    Last edited by DavidA; Mar-28-2019 at 09:19.

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    There seem to be a lot of good recordings of this opera out there, all with great casts.

    What about the DVD versions, which is the best?

    N.

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Something to avoid - the modern Met production totally devoid of charm with an overweight Hansel - come on, the kids are supposed to be starving! The witch actually puts Hansel in a cage to fatten him up. She'd have gobbled up this one straight away! Updating also means we lose the essential rustic charm and fairy tale nature of the piece. Hopeless!

    Last edited by DavidA; Mar-28-2019 at 21:57.

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Listening to the Eichhorn version. It really is good all round with a superb witch in Christa Ludwig and no-one letting the side down.

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    Senior Member Fritz Kobus's Avatar
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    Well, I will be seeing it live next month. For those in SE Michigan, there probably are still tickets. Performances April 6, 10, 12 and 14.
    "All of Italian opera can be heard in [Bellini's] "Ah! non creda [mirarti]."
    --Renata Scotto in "Scotto, More Than a DIva."

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