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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. Proofread by Claire Deakin.

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-derfed.
Who’ll give me fif-ty,
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 pretty fast

HANSEL
For weeks; dry bread without a break.
I can’t take more of this tummy 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, we 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 on 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.
Now let’s see you keep that smile,
Trying out a harder style.

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

GRETEL speaks
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 now, 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!

GRETEL
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.

GRETEL 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

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 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.

GRETEL 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 here…?
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 smelled of marzipan and nuts, and the sweetest raisins. And then – oh yes; of hot, yummy, gooey chocolate sauce. 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 … and 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 doorknob. 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!

THE 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 raisins 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!
Hehe, 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 I 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 oven, 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!

GRETEL
Hurrah, the witch is still!
Now 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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