Hänsel und Gretel

6 October - 3 December 2013
Tour 2013

‘Listen very carefully. Never forget what is coming next. Real witches dress in ordinary clothes and look very much like ordinary women. They live in ordinary houses and they work in ordinary jobs.’

This advice on witches from Roald Dahl might well be borne in mind by Hansel and Gretel in Glyndebourne’s production of the much-loved opera by Engelbert Humperdinck. The music may be familiar, the fairy tale may be universally known, but the story is open to many different interpretations.

Here, the two children are driven by hunger into the clutches of a terrifyingly vicious witch, who presides over an apparently free-for-all supermarket, shelves groaning with high-fat, high-sugar, highly coloured irresistible treats. Will they manage to outwit her, to escape her greedy malevolence?

Humperdinck’s music has a deceptive sweetness and simplicity. Its immediately appealing folk tunes are given an additional voluptuous richness, the atmosphere of the forest is conjured up in a darkly dramatic and resonant soundworld. And through this comes the limpid purity of the evening prayer which the children sing when they are lost and afraid, asking the angels to protect them as they lie down to sleep.

Let yourself be bewitched by the glorious music and the ghoulishly vivid imagination of director Laurent Pelly.

Hänsel und Gretel is the perfect introduction to opera. Why not visit our special website for young audiences, Operaland, to find out more or come to the family-friendly introduction before the Tour performance on 29 November.

"...anyone catching the show at the brief Glyndebourne run or the subsequent national tour is in for a real treat."
Rated 4* by What's On Stage 

"There are two outstanding performances in the title roles, delivered with a vigorous physicality that never gets in the way of the singing."
Rated 4* by the Daily Telegraph 

“Twenty-year-old Venezuelan conductor Ilyich Rivas ensures a glorious and moving account of this richly Wagnerian score.”
Rated 4* by the Daily Mail

“…this bold, clever and playful performance offers a masterful take on a classic fairytale.”

Brighton Argus

A revival of the 2008 Festival production
Sung in German with English supertitles

Act I
The broom-maker’s house
Hänsel and Gretel are doing chores. Both are bored and hungry, and to cheer themselves up they start to dance. Their games are interrupted by their Mother, who is angry to find them playing instead of working. In her anger she knocks over the milk jug, losing what was to have been supper. She sends them into the forest to gather strawberries instead. Wearied by their precarious existence, she sinks into a chair, only to be woken by the return of her husband. She is irritated to find him tipsy, but calms down when he produces a sack full of food. When he enquires after Hänsel and Gretel, he is alarmed to hear they are in the forest: he warns of the Witch who lives there, and both parents set out to look for the children.

Act II
The wood
Hansel and Gretel happily gather and eat strawberries. When night falls they realize they are lost, and are frightened by the mysterious shapes in the mist. But a Sandman appears and settles them. They say their evening prayers, and go to sleep. The mist around them turns to clouds from which angels appear, who guard the children from harm.

The Witch’s house
At dawn the Dew Fairy comes to wake Hänsel and Gretel.They are excited to see a house not far away, but when they begin to nibble at it, the Witch emerges and captures them, casting a spell. She puts Hänsel in a cage, telling Gretel that her brother needs fattening. She releases Gretel with a spell, in order that the girl may help her with the oven. But Gretel uses the spell to free Hänsel, and as the Witch demonstrates to Gretel how to check the oven, the children push her into it. As the Witch dies, the fence of people is transformed back into motionless children. Hänsel invokes the formula for breaking the spell, and the children jump up and thank Hänsel and Gretel for saving them. The Mother and Father appear, and the family is reunited. 

Creative Team 

Conductor Ilyich Rivas / Jeremy Bines (12, 14, 26, 29 Nov)
Director Laurent Pelly
Revival Director James Bonas
Designer Barbara de Limburg
Lighting Designer Joël Adam

The Glyndebourne Tour Orchestra
The Glyndebourne Chorus


Hänsel Victoria Yarovaya
Gretel Andriana Chuchman
Mother Anne Mason
Father Stephen Gadd
Witch Colin Judson
Sandman Lauren Easton
Dew Fairy Angharad Morgan

Audio files: 
Hänsel und Gretel, Mother (Anne Mason), Father (Stephen Gadd), Glyndebourne Tour 2013. Photo: Robbie Jack
Gretel (Andriana Chuchman) Glyndebourne Tour 2013. Photo: Robbie Jack
Hänsel (Victoria Yarovaya), Glyndebourne Tour 2013. Photo: Robbie Jack
Hänsel (Victoria Yarovaya) and Gretel (Andriana Chuchman), Glyndebourne Tour 2013. Photo: Robbie Jack
Dew Fairy (Angharad Morgan) in Hänsel und Gretel, Glyndebourne Tour 2013. Photo: Robbie Jack
Hänsel (Victoria Yarovaya), Witch (Colin Judson) and Gretel (Andriana Chuchman) Glyndebourne Tour 2013. Photo: Robbie Jack
Hänsel (Victoria Yarovaya) and Gretel (Andriana Chuchman) Glyndebourne Tour 2013. Photo: Robbie Jack
Hänsel und Gretel, Glyndebourne Tour 2013. Photo: Robbie Jack
Hänsel (Victoria Yarovaya) and Gretel (Andriana Chuchman) Glyndebourne Tour 2013. Photo: Robbie Jack
Hänsel (Victoria Yarovaya) and Gretel (Andriana Chuchman) Glyndebourne Tour 2013. Photo: Robbie Jack
Hänsel (Victoria Yarovaya), Witch (Colin Judson) and Gretel (Andriana Chuchman) Glyndebourne Tour 2013. Photo: Robbie Jack
Witch (Colin Judson), Hänsel und Gretel, Glyndebourne Tour 2013. Photo: Robbie Jack

"...anyone catching the show at the brief Glyndebourne run or the subsequent national tour is in for a real treat."
Rated 4* by What's On Stage 

"There are two outstanding performances in the title roles, delivered with a vigorous physicality that never gets in the way of the singing."
Rated 4* by the Daily Telegraph 

“Twenty-year-old Venezuelan conductor Ilyich Rivas ensures a glorious and moving account of this richly Wagnerian score.”
Rated 4* by the Daily Mail

“Glyndebourne’s own orchestra…provides top quality playing, while the young Venezuelan conductor Ilyich Rivas makes every note of the score tell.”
Reviewed by The Stage

“…this bold, clever and playful performance offers a masterful take on a classic fairytale.”
Brighton Argus


This was a very imaginative production and both the children's house and of course the witch's house were wonderfully designed. The witch's ride was hilarious and by far the best staging of it I have ever seen.

A delight for all adults young at heart and a great introduction to opera for those young everywhere.

Sitting just behind the conductor, we were instantly wowed from the off the the orchestra's power and agility. The production was a brilliant Roald-Dahl-esque mix that brings the Grim parts of the fairy tale to the fore and adds a layer of modern life. All the singers were great, but we loved the father and the purity of Gretel. And, of course, the brilliant supermarket update of the gingerbread house - when the fattened children appeared, saved from the witch, and Hansel and Gretel sung "who are they” ... The lady in the row behind whispered ”Americans!" We snorted, but it showed that the production worked. We related to this centuries old tale, even with our modern eyes. Such, perhaps, is the power of this excellent opera production.

Took my mum who has enjoyed other performances of Hansel and Gretel over the years. We were impressed with the modern concept ,yet still leaving the beautiful familiar music and song. Children of a young age would enjoy this just as they would a pantomime. Delightful.

For me, the modern setting spoiled the magic of the fairy tale. The destruction of the witch should have been the dramatic climax but it was rather underwhelming. As always, the musicianship was superb but for the first time ever, I was disappointed by a Glyndebourne production.

I disliked it intensely! It should have been a beautiful fairytale. The father and mother should have been caring parents, not drunk and coarse! Hansel and Gretel were children of about 8 and 10 but they behaved as though they were delinquents! The witch was someone out of Cinderella and the Ugly Sisters! She(or rather he) was grotesque and seemed like one of the ugly sisters! The forest scene which should have been magical with birds and animals surrounding the sleeping children, and angels watching after them (the song here depicted that watchful care), should have been magical. Instead, I saw ghostly forms that looked like mummified bodies from the dead! If I hadn't known the story I would have thought the dead had risen to take the children away - portraying death! I have attended many modern versions of opera but never one so grotesque and so debase! The producer turned opera to the level of a pantomime! If this is opera, and if this is introduced to non-opera goers as opera, it is sacrilege! The producer has lowered opera appreciation to the lowest level! Thank Heaven the music was beautiful (as it was composed) and the singing were superb! However, I was with a party and the company and food at the Nether Wallop saved the day!

I went to see Hansel und Gretel on 24th October and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. The production was brilliant, as usual, and the singing superb. A really lovely evening which left the audience smiling. The conductor was amazing - I look forward to seeing him again.

The production was exceptionally creative, especially the witch's house. The only negative side was the English translation which did not have the poetic rhythm of the version I know from the 1960s.

Brilliant! Wonderful, in every way. Beautifully sung, great orchestrally, and superb set design. Simply magical.

My wife and I both loved it, casting and singing were excellent as was the conducting. Most enjoyable, have already recommended it to friends who live in one of the stops on the tour.

An excellent performance under a very promising young conductor, who drew beautiful playing from the orchestra. The cast was first rate, particularly Victoria Yarovaya and Andriana Chuchman in the name parts. On the whole we preferred this production to the one we have seen at Covent Garden.

Thoroughly enjoyed by all 4 of our party. Our first ever visit to a Glyndebourne Opera performance, although we live not far away in Rottingdean. Excellent performances from the entire cast, beautifully produced with an exceptional orchestra and conductor.
We can't wait to come again now we have broken the ice and enjoy the gardens and splendid surroundings. Thank you Glyndebourne and all involved.

A wonderful evening! Glyndebourne Tour has to be the best value for money opera absolutely anywhere.

My first ever visit to Glyndebourne and the venue fully lived up to expectations. It's a wonderful opera, and I thought the playing and singing were excellent.
However, unlike the great majority of views expressed here, I was a bit disappointed with the light-hearted jokey approach. It's a fairy tale, and for me that means it needs taking seriously. The mother should have been angrier, the angels holier (no branches of MacDonald in heaven), and the witch much much scarier.
The quasi-pantomime approach made for an easy experience, and most people seems very happy with it, but I can't help feeling that justice was not done to the depth of this great work.

A truly magical evening - our first visit but not our last!

Absolute perfection - was entranced by the body language og Gretel - so convincing. What can one say about the witch! Would love to go again,

The music was amazing and the updated version very entertaining. A bit slow at the start, but that's how it is.

Once again Glyndebourne Touring Opera has found some wonderful singers, vocally - and physically - well suited to their roles. And a conductor to look out for! A shame the witches demise is a little too perfunctory ... there's a missed chance to bring her back - on the check-out conveyor belt, perhaps? I needed closure! Great fun.

Delicious! Perhaps it was as well Wagner never heard this opera. I am sure his reaction would have been similar to Brahms view of Blue Danube. Especially if he had heard tonight's performance. They are now right 'in the groove'. The tour venues are in for a treat.

Absolutely loved it. Hansel & Gretel was breathtaking: funny, beautiful, witty, moving. The Glyndebourne experience is always one worth cherishing and I feel very lucky every time I have an opportunity to visit, whatever production is on offer.

Jacqui Freeman

So enthralled by the hansel and gretel last night. Sets, orchestra, conductor and the cast were terrific. A delightful evening. many thanks to all who made it.

I brought my 8 year old daughter to the first night. It was her first opera and her first visit to Glyndebourne. She fell in love with both and is already asking when can she come again. This production is the best introduction to opera with its fabulous sets, wonderfully engaging orchestration and, of course, overfed children! If you only go to the opera once in your life make it this one. Fantastic. Thank you Glyndebourne.

We have seen this opera several times at Glyndebourne but was once again most enoyable .Besides H and G, the father was truly superb The witch's demise was a bit perfunctory though

Wonderful! What a fun evening, everything was top class from the sensitive orchestral playing to the engaging 'children' the highly original 'witch 'and the colourful and again unusual take on the gingerbread house. We took friends who did not know the opera and they were delighted. My only slight criticism is that the witch's demise came rather suddenly and rather awkwardly.

Fabulous performance - loved the sets - they were really inspired! Thank you for a wonderful evening (the mulled wine was good too!) We loved it all! Look forward to the next visit.

A magical evening enjoyed it from beginning to end. Loved every minute.

I went to see this opera with a friend and we loved every minute. We were right at the front and didn't know what to look at first the singers or the orchestra! A magical evening.

Wonderful voices of all the players from the moment they started singing through to the last note. A whacky adaptation which all ages will enjoy.

A lively, engaging production. We loved the supermarket house
The Dew Fairy was great too-original and funny. The singing was universally good but we particularly liked the children. The acting and light movements of Gretel in particular were really impressive. Altogether great fun and left us looking forward to next year as we always enjoy our Autumn visits to Glyndebourne

A very enjoyable performance on 15th October; the orchestra was great and Gretal's singing superb but the witch's voice wasn't strong enough for the part.

Beautiful, sensitive orchestral playing, the scenery and lighting very atmospheric and the update from the gingerbread house of the original story to stacked supermarket shelves worked well. Every movement and gesture of Hansel and Gretel brilliantly reflected the children's age and their singing was outstanding. A most enjoyable performance!

It was a very creative production, superbly sung and was visually witty and entertaining. The whole day was rounded off by a spectacular sunset as we set off My recent visit to see Hansel und Grethel was certainly a cultural highlight for me.
over the Downs at dusk. The staff were all very warm and friendly not to mention helpful. An event to remember for many years to come

Truly brilliant.
Loved music and choreography.
Choice of 'children' a stroke of genius

Joyous production loved by adults and our four 10 to 15 year olds

Hansel and Gretel both sang and acted beautifully

Did something go wrong with the demise of The Witch ? very sudden and a little undramatic (12th October)

Thank you for a special day

We loved every minute of this production. Absolutely loved the sets and thank you for the spoiler alert in the programme - preferred to have the surprise in Act 3!

Wonderful cast and set design. A triumph!

I loved this performance - edgy and funny. As an
orchestral player, I relished the large orchestra's sensitive and supportive playing. I am still humming "when my feet go tap tap tap!"

Original, funny and exquisite. We loved it thank you.

This was my first trip to Glyndebourne. I'm relatively new to operas but thought it was a great venue and preferred it to Covent Garden or ENO. The performance was thoroughly entertaining and I would recommend it to all ages.

I saw this last year so was not sure I'd appreciate it again so soon - but thank goodness I chanced it. It was even more enjoyable on a 2nd viewing - and a "1st-timer" also enjoyed it too, much to his surprise!

An enjoyable evening, lovely music and the gardens are looking good, but I wish that the set for the wood had not been not so dismal and ugly. A switch between the 'disadvantaged background' of the children and the beauties of nature (which would have matched the music better) and then going back to the ugly materialism and unhealthy food of the supermarket would have been a poignant contrast. The concept of 'let's be orginal and make it all ugly' is a rather outdated one now - not original at all.

A brilliant performance on Sunday. Even thought we have seen this production twice before, it was easily equal to those. Hansel and Gretel were particularly good.


We took our three children, 14, 12 and 8 to see Hansel and Gretel - their first opera. It was fantastic - it pushed the boundaries to the edge of what is acceptable but never went too far and never lost the connection with the childlike simplicity of the story. The set was brilliant and the production entirely accessible, the performance of the highest standard as ever. If there is one tiny complaint it is that the witch reached the oven much sooner than we all expected! I have been looking every year for a pantomime that has "proper" music and a sensitive production but never thought that Glyndebourne would be where we would find it! Thank you!

It was one of the great Glyndebourne evenings. By any standards and I was not expecting this. The conductor had a complete understanding of the music, holding the orchestra back as the music built to the climaxes, allowing it to breath and never forcing it and yet achieving the most thrilling yet mature sound. Amazing in such a young conductor. Wow! he will go far. The singers were mostly outstanding and there were some spine tingling moments. They clearly enjoyed it. Congratulations to all. I think we may try and go again!!

A wonderful modern adaptation of an old childhood favourite. Would certainly recommend it

It was really amazing how it looked and sounded. Ashley 9.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

We welcome your comments on our site. Please note that Glyndebourne reserves the right to remove comments which are deemed inappropriate.

This question is to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

Why is there a time limit?

Due to demand from other customers seats are reserved for a maximum of 20 minutes in order to allow you to complete your purchase. If the order has not been completed within this time, all seats will be removed from your basket.