Sir Andrew Davis conductor
Elizabeth DeShong – Hansel
Laura Wilde – Gretel
Topi Lehtipuu – Witch
Stacey Alleaume – Dew Fairy/Sandman
James Clayton – Father
Roxanne Hislop – Mother
National Boys Choir of Australia
Australian Girls Choir
Humperdinck Hänsel und Gretel
About the performance
Dark and delicious, Humperdinck’s telling of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale is bewitching, beguiling fun for all folk who wish to live happily ever after.
In one of his final performances as Chief Conductor, Sir Andrew Davis leads this magical concert, where the perilous lessons of growing up are learned through a captivating story that will enchant children and grown-ups alike.
The famous tale of a wicked witch who lives in an gingerbread house, designed to ensnare greedy children into becoming her latest meal, was set to music by German composer Engelbert Humperdinck (from whom the 70s crooner took his name). Humperdinck’s sister Adelheid Wette wrote the libretto, a version not quite as bleak as the original.
Humperdinck’s score contains both soaring, grand reflections of Richard Wagner and simple, folk-inspired melodies, resulting in a wondrous musical intermingling that has been a hit with audiences since its very first performance.
The premiere was conducted by a 29-year-old Richard Strauss in Weimar on 23 December, 1893 (the Hamburg premiere was conducted by Gustav Mahler) and the opera been associated with Christmas ever since.
Americans Elizabeth DeShong, mezzo-soprano and Laura Wilde, soprano, as well as Finnish tenor Topi Lehtipuu make their MSO debuts in this performance, joining Australians Stacey Alleaume, James Clayton and Roxanne Hislop. The National Boys Choir of Australia and Australian Girls Choir appear as the cursed children whose lives are saved when the witch’s spell is broken.
A delectable opera-in-concert where the innocence of childhood is explored with charming vocals and dazzling orchestral colours, these performances are a fitting farewell to Sir Andrew Davis’s fairy tale tenure as Chief Conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
Join artist manager, writer, producer, and friend of the MSO, Megan Steller, ahead of the performances for a special pre-concert conversation inside Hamer Hall.
Pre-concert talk times
Thursday 11 April: 6.15pm
Saturday 13 April: 12.45pm
This concert features surtitles.