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Hansel & Gretel


This deliciously dark interpretation of the well-loved fairy tale will be devoured by anyone with a wicked sense of fun and fantasy. Richard Jones revels in the nightmarish aspects of the story. His classic production dwells on the themes of hunger, gluttony and cannibalism which lie beneath the story's surface. Deep in the depths of the forest Hansel and Gretel must use all their guile and trickery to avoid a horrific fate.

Featuring a beautiful dream sequence involving a banquet served by a fish, this spellbinding production will intrigue those who wish to delve into the dark and comic side of opera.

  • Running time approximately two hours and 10 minutes including one interval
  • Sung in English with surtitles in English and Welsh
  • Co-production with Lyric Opera, Chicago
  • Suitable for ages 10 and over

Supported by the WNO Ildoes Owen Society.

Production note: This production is set both in the 1950s and in a timeless fairytale age.

Conductor Lothar Koenigs
Director Richard Jones
Revival Director Benjamin Davis
Designer John Macfarlane
Lighting Designer Jennifer Tipton 
Original Choreographer Linda Dobell
Revival Choreographer Anjali Mehra-Hughes
Staff Director Sarah Crisp

Gretel Ailish Tynan 
Hansel Jurgita Adamonyté
The Witch Adrian Thompson 
Peter Ashley Holland
The Mother Miriam Murphy
Sandman / Dew Fairy Meriel Andrew

All performances start at 7.15pm

Running time two hours and ten minutes including one interval

Sung in English with surtitles in English (and Welsh in Cardiff and Llandudno)

Act One
The broom- maker’s house
Hansel complains that he is hungry. Gretel shows him some milk that a neighbour has given for the family’s supper. The children dance. Their mother returns and wants to know why they have got so little work done. The milk is accidentally spilt and she chases the children out into the woods to pick berries.

Their father returns home drunk. He brings out the food he has brought, then asks his wife where the children have gone. She tells him that she has sent them into the woods. He tells her that there is a witch in the forest and that the children are in danger. They go out into the woods to look for them.

Act Two
The forest
The children pick berries. They hear a cuckoo singing and eat the berries until they are all gone. Hansel admits to Gretel that he has lost the way home. The children grow frightened. The Sandman comes to bring them sleep, sprinkling sand in their eyes. The children say their evening prayer and, falling asleep, dream of angels watching over them.

Act Three
The gingerbread house
The Dew Fairy comes to wake the children. They discover a gingerbread house and do not notice the Witch, who lures them both inside. She decides to fatten Hansel up for her own purposes and makes Gretel work for her, heating up the oven. Gretel manages to break the Witch’s spell and set Hansel free. When the Witch asks her to look inside the oven to see if it’s hot enough, she pretends not to know what to do. When the Witch shows her, the children push her into the oven and slam the door. The Witch’s previous victims come back to life. The children’s parents find them both safe and all express gratitude for their salvation.

Pre-performance Concert

This short concert is the perfect curtain raiser to the main performance.

Main Foyer, WMC, 27 February 6.15pm

Pre-performance Talks

Pre-performance talks are free and can be booked at the same time you book your opera tickets.

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff
Saturday 21, Wednesday 25 & Friday 27 February 6.15pm

Birmingham Hippodrome
Saturday 7 March 6.15pm

Venue Cymru, Llandudno
Saturday 14 March 3pm & 5.45pm

Milton Keynes Theatre
Saturday 21 March 5.45pm

Mayflower Theatre, Southampton
Saturday 28 March 5.45pm

Bristol Hippodrome
Saturday 11 April 5.45pm

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