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Hocus pocus! Hansel and Gretel in a fairy production by Johannes Felsenstein
Hansel and Gretel, two young children from a humble family living on the edge of the Ilsenstein forest are making brooms and stitching a stoking. But the idea of a rice cake for dinner diverts them from their domestic toils. The mother, Gertrud, comes in and scolds them for not working. Alas! The milk pot intended for the making of the cake is spilled over. The mother, both despaired and sorry for her hungry children, sends Hansel and Gretel into the wood to pick strawberries, unaware of the danger to which she exposes them. Peter, the father, comes back from a neighboring hamlet, the pockets full of victuals. Where are the children? Gone into the woods, replied the mother. The father is terrified. The woods are inhabited by a witch who eats lost children. Hansel and Gretel fight over the last strawberries, when suddenly a wonder appears before their eyes: a gingerbread house! Hansel and Gretel rush to the house, wolfing down windows, doors, walls, everything a house could be made of. Who's here? The witch appears, Hansel and Gretel are frozen to the spot. Hocus pocus! Hansel is stiff, ready to be put in the oven. Thankfully, Gretel grands the witch's wand. Hocus pocus! The witch is defeated. Gingerbread children have turned back into humans.
Hansel and Gretel is a fairy-tale opera (Märchenspiel) composed by Engelbert Humperdinck in 1891, who drew his inspiration from the well-known eponym tale collected by the Grimm Brothers. Much admired for its folk music-inspired themes, Hansel and Gretel is a classic of the operatic repertoire which has never ceased to be performed since its creation in 1893 in Weimar under Richard Strauss' baton. But besides this success, Hansel and Gretel plunges the audience into an enchanting world full of wonders, into childhood memories.