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Opera in English - Humperdinck: Hansel & Gretel / Mackerras

Album Summary

>Humperdinck, Engelbert : Hänsel und Gretel
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & 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 (Editor's Choice)

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
When a perfectly serviceable version of Hanseland Gretel in English already exists on CfP, it is generous as well as bold for the Peter Moores Foundation to sponsor this new one. In every way it replaces the old. That was an EMI effort in 1964 using multichannels - the result: unnecessarily close voices and a dim orchestra. On Chandos the recording is clear and beautifully separated yet with an agreeable bloom on voices and instruments.

The Canadian Mario Bernadi, then briefly the Sadler's Wells company's music director, conducts a lively performance but Sir Charles Mackerras is altogether more inspired and imaginative, with pointing and phrasing that readily match Karajan's masterly conducting on the classic mono EMI set.

Though the CfP singers, from the old Sadler's Wells company, are good with clear, firm voices, their 'prunes and prisms' enunciation of words harks back to a pre-war tradition, dating the performance. This time, following the practice at English National Opera, the David Pountney Opera Humperdinck 602 translation is used, fresher and more idiomatic, helping the starry cast of soloists, led by Jennifer Larmore and Rebecca Evans, both superb in the title-roles, nicely contrasted while blending well together.

There is strong casting, too, for the Witch, with Jane Henschel refusing to caricature the role in 'funny-voice' singing; Rosalind Plowright, gravitating down to mature mezzo, as the Mother, and Robert Hayward as the Father, don't guy their characterisations, either; while there are good contrasts between the bright Dew Fairy of Sarah Tynan and the warm Sandman of Diana Montague.

All told, this set will clearly stand the test of time as an English version, rivalling even the best of versions in the original German. The exhilaration of the final scene in particular is irresistible, with Mackerras drawing a genuinely Viennese-sounding lilt in the waltz rhythms of the 'Witch is dead' duet, the destruction of the Witch's House powerfully conveyed and the revival of the gingerbread children movingly done. The fresh young voices of the New London Children's Choir are beautifully caught.


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Works Details

>Humperdinck, Engelbert : Hänsel und Gretel
  • Performers: Sarah Coppen (Voice); Rebecca Evans (Soprano); Robert Hayward (Bass); Jane Henschel (Alto); Jennifer Larmore (Mezzo Soprano); Diana Montague (Mezzo Soprano); Rosalind Plowright (Soprano); Sarah Vocal] (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Charles Mackerras
  • Ensemble: New London Children's Choir
  • Notes: Blackheath Halls, London, England (11/22/2006-11/27/2006)
  • Running Time: 64 min. 1 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1893