Wagnerian Influences in Humperdinck’s ‘Hansel and Gretel’


On the 23rd of December 1893, Hansel and Gretel, an opera by Engelbert Humperdinck, premiered in Weimar, under the baton of Richard Strauss. Humperdinck composed nine works  in total for the stage. But Hansel and Gretel brought him the biggest critical acclaim. The libretto, written by Humperdinck’s sister, Adelheid Wette, was loosely based on the Brothers Grimm fairytale with the same title.

The Grimms travelled all around Germany collecting allegedly authentic folk stories. Their collection of tales “reflected the ideology of 19th century German Romanticists: the stories were intended to infuse national pride and awaken the consciousness of the German peoples who were politically alienated but united by culture and language… These Romantics were seeking a spiritual renaissance: they found their cultural soul in their ancient myths, legends, and epics, a vast legacy that they believed possessed powerful universal truths that were waiting to be…

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