The new production of Hänsel und Gretel – not only for children

The last premiere of 2017 at the Hungarian State Opera is a fairy-tale opera performed traditionally in the festive season. The new production directed by Rafael R. Villalobos, winner of Opera Europa’s directing competition in Graz, welcomes adults and children alike.*

 The Wagnerian Engelbert Humperdinck is one of the most important figures in German fairy-tale opera. The success of a shortish “Märchenoper” composed to a libretto by the composer’s own sister, Adelheid Wette, convinced him to write a full-evening children’s opera based on the famous Brothers Grimm story, with slight departures from the original plot.

The piece was immediately declared a masterpiece by Humperdinck’s contemporary Richard Strauss, who conducted the fairy-tale opera at its Weimar premiere. Greeted with instant and enormous acclaim, the work went on to conquer the world.

„Humperdinck’s opera deals with various themes, all of a markedly social nature. Standing out amongst them, due to the numerous references to it throughout the piece, is Work. Adults and children alike in this story, at once fable and drama, live under its yoke, forced to work until they drop, their effort largely unrewarded. The resulting frustration traps the characters in a gloomy and depressing spiral” said the director. „The difficult, but not impossible, task I set myself is therefore that of creating two parallel worlds in which adults and children can enjoy themselves while at the same time reflecting on the real world they live in.”

Conducted by acclaimed János Kovács the production features leading singers of the Hungarian State Opera like Judit Németh and Bernadett Wiedemann in the role of the witch, Atala Schöck and Lúcia Megyesi Schwartz as Gertrud, the mother, Csaba Szegedi and Zsolt Haja as Peter, the father. They are joined by young talents Gabriella Balga and Zsófia Kálnay as Hänsel and Nóra Ducza and Helga Nánási as Gretel.

Director / costume designer: Rafael R. Villalobos
Set designer: Emanuele Sinisi
Choreographer: Csaba Sebestyén
Dramaturg: Eszter Orbán
Head of the children’s chrous: Nikolett Hajzer


  • Venue: Erkel Theatre, Budapest
  • Premiere: 9 December 2017
  • Further dates: 10, 12, 14, 19 December 2019

*Not suitable for children under the age of 10.