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Hansel and Gretel with Music from the Opera

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Hansel and Gretel with Music from the Opera and pictures by CaiJia Eng

This Christmas (2012), our extra-special production brings you a delightful introduction to opera. Our production of Hansel and Gretel is specially crafted for children but anyone who loves music will enjoy it.

The opera of Hansel and Gretel by the German composer, Englebert Humperdinck (1854 -1921) is traditionally performed at Christmas. The celebration of sweets and food makes a seasonal delight. Or course, if you know the story, you will realise that the section with the witch is spooky enough to listen to at Halloween too.

We have adapted Humperdinck’s opera to bring you the most charming and catchy tunes, with spoken narration and acting in between. But make no mistake, the singing is real opera – be prepared to be thrilled and amazed.

Cast:
Gretel : Danae Eleni
Hansel : Katie Slater
Witch / mother Elizabeth Donnelly
Narrator : Richard Scott

Music by Englebert Humperdinck, played arranged and produced for Storynory by Joe Davison of Auburn Jam. Additional instruments (flute, oboe, ukulele) by Nikki Davison.

Original libretto by Adelheid Wette (Humperdinck’s sister). Storynory would like to thank Lewis Reynolds for allowing us to use his translation of the words for the songs.
Dialogue by Bertie drawing freely from the verse translation of Constance Bache for the witch’s speeches.

The original story was of course written by the Brothers Grimm and you can hear it told by Natasha in one of our first story productions.

The original pictures for Stornory are by CaiJia Eng who illustrates Katie the Witch for us. More pictures for Hansel and Gretel will be coming very soon.

NARRATOR

Long ago, in a cottage on the edge of a dark wood, two children were busy doing boring jobs. Hansel was making a broom for their father to sell. Gretel was patching up the holes in some old socks. Both were hungry, but they tried not to think about their empty stomachs. As they worked, Gretel sang a simple song

GRETEL SINGS

Suzie pretty Suzie, what’s that in the straw?
The geese are running barefoot and they can’t find their shoes!
The cob-bler who made them can’t make any more
Has-n’t got the lea-ther that he needs to – use

Hansel
He-y diddle diddle I’m so un-der-fed
Who’ll give me fif-ty P
For some jam and some bread?
I could sell my bed and sleep on the straw
Oh the hun-ger is biting
Then I won’t be bitten by fleas a-ny more

If only our mother would come home at last

Gretel
Oh yes, I need to eat something pret-ty fast

Hansel
For weeks dry bread without a break
I can’t take more of this tum-my ache

Gretel

Shush Hansel, think about what Father says when Mother
blubbers and dis-mays
When there’s trouble to withstand
God will lend a hel—-ping hand

HANSEL Speaks
Oh Gretel I wish I had something to eat. Your song makes me feel all the more hungry. I can’t remember the last time we had anything but rough old bread.

GRETEL
Well I’ve got a secret. Tonight shall have rice pudding!

HANSEL
Rice Pudding! Don’t torture me with your fibs!. You know how I love Rice pudding!

GRETEL
It’s true, it’s true. A lady in the village took pity us. She filled mother’s empty jug with milk. Look up! There it is on the top shelf.

HANSEL
Wow ! Milk ! Has it got the cream on it? I’ll climb up and stick my thumb in.

GRETEL
You’ll do no such thing. But isn’t it wonderful! I can’t work any more. I’m dreaming of rice pudding.

HANSEL
Me too.

GRETEL
I’m so happy. Come on Brother dance with me !

HANSEL
I don’t dance with little soppy girls.

DANCING SONG

GRETEL
Little boy come dance with me
Put your hands where I can see
One by here, one by there
Round you go without a care

HANSEL
Little Girl I’m not so sure
I’ll just end up on the floor
Will you show me what to do
So that I can dance like you?

GRETEL
With your foot you tap tap tap
with your hand you clap clap clap
One by here, one by there
Round you go without a care

HANSEL
With my foot I tap tap tap
With my hand I clap clap clap
One by here
One by there
Round without a care

GRETEL
Hey no joking I’m impressed
That’s not something I’d have guessed
No let’s see you keep that smil
Trying out a harder style

With your head you nick nick nick
With your fingers you tick tick tick
One by here
One by there
Round you go without a care

HANSEL
With my head I nick nick nick
With my fingers I tick tick tick
One by here
One by there
Round without a care

GRETEL
SHHH ! Look busy. Here’s mother.

MOTHER
What’s all this horsing around? Stop it at once. Playing is for rich kids ! We’re too poor. There will be no supper until you finish your work.

HANSEL
Oh mother is it true that there will be rice pudding tonight – I’m so hungry.”

MOTHER
Didn’t you hear what I said.? Give me that broom. It’s not half finished. What have you been doing all this time? Take that you lazy child.

SOUND FX
Bang!

HANSEL
AAAAGH ! Don’t hit me !

GRETEL
Oh No ! Look out !

SOUND FX
Crash! Smash !

MOTHER

Now see what you’ve done ! You wicked, wicked children !

GRETEL
Oh the milk is all over the floor

MOTHER
It’s spilt. All spilt. There is nothing for dinner nothing -nothing -. (bursts into tears)

GRETEL
Dear mother. Don’t be so upset !

MOTHER
Silence both of you ! Go out to the woods and find strawberries !

GRETAL
But mother. It’s getting late. It’s the wrong time of year for ….

MOTHER
Do as I say or you’ll be sorry! Out, out of my sight. Why did I ever have children? – just eat and sleep, sleep and eat, play around and break things, make noise, make trouble -that’s all you two are good for – get out ! And don’t come back until your basket is full of berries ! Or I’ll whip you both!

BRING UP SOME INCIDENTAL MUSIC

NARRATOR
Hansel and Gretel, both down at heart, left the cottage to look for strawberries. They did not hear their mother, inside, quietly praying to herself.

MOTHER
Dear God. Help me feed my children. I haven’t got a single crumb for them. They are naughty but I love them with all my heart. I feel so hopeless. Send us some relief from our suffering.

(FX Walking along a path)

HANSEL
This is silly. How shall we find strawberries. They are not out yet.

GRETEL
Perhaps the little man of the wood will help us.

HANSEL
The who?

GRETEL
The little man of the wood.

Sings
A little man stands silent in the wood
He wears a little cape with a velvet hood
Say what sort of man can be one who stand there
Like a tree in his little purple cape and hood?

The little man is balanced up on one leg
He wears a little bonnet up on his head
Say what sort of man can be
One who stand on just one knee
And a little bonnet on his head?
And a little bonnet on his head?

HANSEL
Hey look! I don’t know about your little man, but there’s a little strawberry,.

GRETEL
And where’s there’s one, there’s bound to be more

HANSEL
We’re in luck !

NARRATOR
And the children, in their excitement left the path and wandered through the bushes, filling their basket with strawberries as they went. There were pretty wild flowers too, which Gretel picked up when she saw them. As the sun was setting, they found themselves in a clearing, and they sat down beneath a fir tree. Gretel began to join the flowers together in a ring.

HANSEL
What’s that for?

GRETEL
You shall crown me the woodland queen.

HANSEL
All hail the Woodland Queen ! Let’s celebrate with strawberries !

GRETEL
Oh go on, just one.

HANSEL
Or two….

GRETEL
Cuckoo !

NARRATOR
Gretel takes a strawberry from the basket and pops it into her brother’s mouth. He sucks on it. It is the most delicious taste in the world and it is far too good to resist another one.
Of course it is not long before all the strawberries are all gone.

GRETEL
Whoops ! What naughty children we are ! Mother will whip us if we go back with an empty basket.

HANSEL
Go back? How shall we go back? It’s almost dark. We can’t see the path.

GRETEL
Oh ! Oh oh oh ! What shall we do?

HANSEL
What can we do? We must stay here the night. In the morning, we’ll pick more berries, and find the path home.

GRETEL
You’re right. I’m so tired I can feel the sandman closing my eyelids already. But we mustn’t forget our evening prayers.

Sings
When at night I go to bed
Fourteen Angels watch my head
Two are here beside me
When at night I go to bed
Fourteen angels watch my head
Two are here beside me
Two are here to guide me
Two are by my right hand
Two are by my left hand
Two are here to guide me
Two are by my right hand
Two are by my –
Two are there to lull me
Two are there to wake me
Two are there to guide me to my left hand
Two are there to lull me
Two are there to wake me
Two to guide to highest heaven paradise
heaven paradise

GRETEL
(yawns) Where am I? Is it still a dream? Is this the wood? Why am I hear….?
Hansel, Hansel, wake up you lazy bones.

HANSEL
Did you see them?

GRETEL
Who?

HANSEL
The fourteen angels ! They just went rushing by.

GRETEL
You were dreaming my silly brother.

HANSEL
Oh I must have been.. but hold on. Is that a dream?

GRETEL
What was that there last night?

NARRATOR
For now, in the clearing, in a spot that was empty the evening before, stood a cottage. It was no ordinary house, for it was not built of wood or bricks. It was all made of the sweetest most delicious things ! The hedge was gingerbread. The windows glistened with sugar. The roof was Turkish Delight ! At first it smelt of marzipan and nuts and sweetest raisons. And then – oh yes of hot yummy gooey chocolate source. You could breath it in and it made you feel all warm and happy. But as you can imagine, something that looked so tasty had a magical attraction. You just felt like you were being pulled towards it, that you had to reach out and touch it, taste it, devour it … but you knew that you shouldn’t.. you knew that you should keep back… but you just couldn’t help yourself.

HANSEL
Oh Gretel, , let’s nibble the garden gate a bit. I’m sure it tastes delicious.

GRETEL.
I don’t think we should. A house like that must belong to a princess.

HANSEL
Then she can afford a few crumbs. Hmmm. Yes, the gate does taste SO good. Even better than it looks. I’m going to try the door nob. It’s made of marzipan. Come on sister. Tuck in. When are you going to get a chance to feast like this again. Uh-oh. Hold on.

(HOCUS POCUS MUSIC)

Who’s that? The princess’s grandma? She looks like a bit of an old hag.

GRETEL
Hansel. Don’t be so rude !

WITCH
Nibble nibble mousekin
Who’s nibbling at my housekin?

HANSEL
Who are you ,ugly face?

GRETEL
HANSEL!!!

THE WITCH
Now darling, that’s not nice. I’m Rosina Dainty-Mouth. Children are dear to me. I so love to eat … I mean – meet them.

HANSEL
Get back ! Don’t come near us !

THE WITCH
Come little mouse, come into my house. If you think my garden gate tastes nice, wait until you try my cooking. Oh deary-dear aren’t you hungry?

GRETEL
Well yes we are. Could we take something back for our mother and father?

THE WITCH
Of course. Come inside. I have rice pudding !

GRETEL
Rice Pudding ! I’d love to try some.

HANSEL
Gretel, don’t go inside.. Let’s run.

THE WITCH

Hold !
Hocus pocus, witch’s charm !
Move not as you fear my arm !
Back or forward do not try
Fixed you are by the evil eye !
Children watch the magic head
eyes are staring dull as lead
Now you kids, off to bed !

GRETEL
I suppose I had better do as she says… it’s not good for children to disobey grown-ups

THE WITCH (whispering to herself)
Yes, Gretel mine
How well off you I’ll dine!
But Hansel my boy so young,
Let me try your thumb.
Urchin you’re a scraggy one
No more meat than a skeleton..

Maiden Gretel !
Bring some raisons and almonds sweet
Hansel wants some more to eat !

Yes we’ll soon fatten him up…

GRETEL
But he can’t move his mouth because of the spell you put on him

THE WITCH
Oh yes,
Hocus pocus elder bush
Stiffen body, loosen Whoosh!
He-he my my little miss
Give your brother this
Don’t cry, there’s no matter
Cakes will only make him fatter.

HANSEL
Sister dear beware !

THE WITCH
She makes my mouth water
This pretty little daughter
Come Gretel fine
Sugar maiden mine
Open up the oven door
Should we bake the cake some more?
Carefully look, my little pet
is it ready yet?

Whispers
When in the oven she’s peeping
I’ll be behind her creeping
One little push, bang
the door goes clang !
Then soon will Gretel be
Just done to a T !

GRETEL
Uh, I don’t understand what have to do

WITCH
Just stand on tip-toe
Head bending forward,
Try it I pray
It’s merely play

HANSEL
Sister take care

GRETEL
I’m such a goose, I don’t understand. Please show me what to do

WITCH

Like this you see,
Open the over, it’s easy

HANSEL
Come on sister, now !

HANSEL AND GRETEL

Then one little push, bang
Goes the door, clang !
You, not Gretel, then will be
Just done to a T!

HANSEL

Hurrah now sing the witch is dead, no more to dread

GRETAL

Hurrah the witch is still !
we can eat our fill !

SHORT SONG

Yes, let us happy be
dancing so merrily
now the old witch is gone
we’ll have no end of fun !
Hey ! Hurrah, hurrah
Hip hurrah, Hip Hurrah
Hurrah !

SONG
The spell is broke and we are free
We’ll sing and we’ll dance and we’ll shout for glee
Come children all and form a ring
Join hands together while we sing
Then sing and spring
then dance and sing
for cakes and all good things we bring

HANSEL
Mother !

Mother
Oh come to me my naughty, darling children

SING
When past bearing is our grief
then tis heaven will send relief

Music – lively dance

End.

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