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Opera In English - Humperdinck: Hansel & Gretel / Mackerras


Release Date: 07/31/2007 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 3143   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Engelbert Humperdinck
Performer:  Robert HaywardRosalind PlowrightSarah TynanDiana Montague,   ... 
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia OrchestraNew London Children's Choir
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 41 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



Simply unmissable for any fans of this opera, Anglophone or not, Mackerras balances the songful and the sinister with absolute sureness. There is not a weak link in the cast, with Rebecca Evans in particular showing how her voice has bloomed in recent years. Jane Henschel is a frighteningly credible witch: she could be your smiling next-door neighbour.

-- Gramophone [9/2007]


This new Opera-in-English set of Engelbert Humperdinck's wonderful Hansel and Gretel goes straight to the top of the list of recorded performances, along with the Schwarzkopf/Karajan. Charles Mackerras leads a most beautiful reading,
Read more fully aware of Humperdinck's debt to and love for Wagner but with a warmth that makes the glorious orchestrations and easy, lovely, folksy melodies flow naturally and gracefully. This is not to say that there isn't excitement--the "Witch's Ride" is thrillingly lumpy and aggressive. Mackerras offers a terrific piece of storytelling in music, and the big burst when the Witch is pushed into the oven is a fine cataclysm, handsomely captured by Chandos' engineers.

David Pountney's translation is always comfortable and mostly understandable, and the cast is blessed with natural actors. Jennifer Larmore at times has been faulted for her hard-edged tone; here, as Hansel--sure of himself, boyish, and charming--she's just right. Rebecca Evans sounds nothing like Larmore and portrays a Gretel both spunky and spooked out. If the children's Evening Prayer ever has been sung more beautifully I certainly don't remember it; absolute obedience to dynamics and an ideal blend of voices make it a few moments of sheer bliss. Jane Henschel's Witch is the tour de force this role had better be, and while she may not be the absolute best on CD (that honor goes to Christa Ludwig on an old RCA recording, a set marred only by Anna Moffo's weird Hansel), she's a master of altering her tone, from cajoling to menacing to utter loathing.

I prefer a lighter-toned Sandman, but Diana Montague cannot be faulted vocally or for her gentle singing, and Sarah Tynan's Dew Fairy is lovely. Rosalind Plowright's Mother is strong (she might have made a good Witch) and Robert Hayward sings the Father's music brightly (Mackerras leads his entrance "Tra-la-la-las" nice and quickly). Orchestra and chorus are superb. This set is a pleasure--the ideal Hansel in English, and perhaps in any language.

--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1. Hänsel und Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck
Performer:  Robert Hayward (Baritone), Rosalind Plowright (Mezzo Soprano), Sarah Tynan (Soprano),
Diana Montague (Mezzo Soprano), Sarah Coppen (Voice), Jane Henschel (Mezzo Soprano),
Jennifer Larmore (Mezzo Soprano), Rebecca Evans (Soprano)
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  New London Children's Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Germany 
Venue:  Blackheath Halls, London, England 
Length: 101 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Blackheath Halls, London, England (11/22/2006 - 11/27/2006) 

Sound Samples

Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Overture
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act I: Goosey goosey gander, the mouse in the straw (Gretel, Hansel)
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act I: Down with the dumps, out with the grumps (Gretel, Hansel)
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act I: Little brother dance with me (Gretel, Hansel)
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act I: Hansel! (Mother, Gretel, Hansel)
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act I: My Jug all in bits (Mother)
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act I: Ral-la-la-la, ral-la-la-la, light the fire (Father, Mother)
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act I: But wait, say where are the children? (Father, Mother)
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act I: But there's one, a crone, who lives alone (Father, Mother)
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act I: Prelude to Act II: the Wiches' Ride
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act II: A dwarf stood in the forest (Gretel, Hansel)
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act II: Cuckoo, cuckoo (Cuckoo, Gretel, Hansel)
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act II: Gretel, I think we've lost the way (Gretel, Hansel, voices)
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act II: I am the little sandman (Sandman, Gretel, Hansel)
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act II: Where each child lays down its head (Gretel, Hansel)
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act II: Pantomime
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act III: Introduction
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act III: When dew drops on the daisy (Dew fairy, Gretel)
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act III: I slept here? On a pine-tree bed! (Gretel, Hansel)
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act III: Keep still! No sound! (Gretel, Hansel)
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act III: Greedy little mousy, who's nibbling at my housey? (Witch, Gretel, Hansel)
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act III: Hansel, don't be so greedy (Witch, Gretel, Hansel)
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act III: Stop! Hocus pocus, witch's ground (Witch)
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act III: Now Gretel, you're the sensible one (Witch, Gretel, Hansel)
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act III: So hopp hopp hopp, galopp lopp lopp (Witch)
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act III: Now wake up, it's time to eat (Witch, Gretel, Hansel)
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act III: Horrah! Now that the witch is dead (Gretel, Hansel)
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act III: The dead arise, but cannot see (Gingerbread Children, Gretel, Hansel, Father)
Hansel und Gretel (Sung in English): Act III: Father! Mother! (Gretel, Hansel, Mother, Father, Gingerbread Children)

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