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Hansel and Gretel

Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse
9 Jun 2018 - 12 Jun 2018

Beware the witchy woods

Nibble, nibble, munch; a gingerbread house with plenty of crunch. Chocolates and treats to tempt every desire, but will the cost of indulging truly be dire?

Bring the whole family to experience the wonder and excitement of Engelbert Humperdinck’s opera of the timeless fairy tale Hansel and Gretel.

Staged with enchanting sets and costumes, Victorian Opera’s production brings this treasured story from the page to the stage in a beloved operatic rendition.

This 55-minute production will be sung in its original German, with English scene descriptors and a live orchestra.

The story

After misbehaving and breaking a precious jug of milk, Hansel and Gretel are sent into the woods by their Mother to look for strawberries for their supper. When Father returns with a basket of food, he is horrified. The gloomy woods are where The Evil One lives, a fearsome witch who turns children into gingerbread and eats them. The parents rush out to find their children.

Hansel and Gretel go deeper into the woods, looking for more strawberries. It gets dark and they realise they’re lost. The Sandman appears and helps them sleep with a sprinkle of magic sand. They dream of angels protecting them and in the morning, they’re awoken by The Dew Fairy. When the mist clears they see a marvellous house made of gingerbread, decorated with frosting and candy.

Hungry, the children can’t resist the temptation and begin to nibble on the house. The Witch comes out of her house and traps the poor children with a spell. She tries to lure Gretel into the oven but Gretel tricks her, pushing the evil Witch into the flaming oven instead. The Witch’s gingerbread victims turn back into children and Hansel and Gretel are reunited with their parents. Together they all celebrate the demise of the Witch.

The music

The story of the children’s adventure is told through charming music with immediacy and depth. Humperdinck blends folk music, Wagnerian influences and echoes of other German composers including Mendelssohn, Weber and Brahms. Simple harmonic structures underlie complex interactions between voices, demonstrating the technique of voice leading. The layered musical textures and Wagnerian moments (for example ‘The Witch’s Ride’) will captivate opera lovers, while the use of folk tunes makes it easy listening for children.

Have fun while learning more about Hansel and Gretel with our Education Resource.

Carlos E. Bárcenas and Cristina Russo in Victorian Opera’s production of Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. Photo by Hilary Walker


Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse

Saturday 9 June 11am, 2pm*, 5pm
Tuesday 12 June 1pm - Relaxed Performance^

The running time is approximately 55 minutes with no interval.

Sung in German with scene descriptors in English

Schools performances

Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse

Thursday 7 June 10:30am, 1pm
Friday 8 June 10:30am

Student tickets $15 each. One complimentary teacher ticket for every 10 students.

Cast & Crew

Composer Engelbert Humperdinck
Librettist Adelheid Wette

Creative team

Conductor Simon Bruckard
Director Elizabeth Hill
Set and Costume Design Ross Hall
Lighting Design Peter Darby


Hansel Shakira Dugan
Gretel Cleo Lee-McGowan
Mother/Angel/Child Kirilie Blythman
Father/Angel/Child Stephen Marsh
Angel/Child Matthew Thomas
Sandman Douglas Kelly
Dew Fairy Michelle McCarthy
The Witch Tomas Dalton


Victorian Opera Chamber Ensemble

Carlos E. Bárcenas, Cristina Russo and Emma Muir-Smith in Victorian Opera’s production of Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. Photo by Hilary Walker

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