Hansel and Gretel Overture to Act I (Hänsel und Gretel)

Humperdinck started writing Hänsel and Gretel in 1890 when his sister asked him to write four songs based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale for her kids to perform. Humperdinck developed the work from that collection of songs into a singspiel, and then a whole opera. In contrast to the Grimms’ original, which has Hänsel and Gretel’s mother sending them out to die, Humperdinck and Wette’s rendition of the tale has the mother just instructing the kids to go outside and gather strawberries to keep them from making problems within the home.

Late in 1893, a premiere was planned for Munich. The first performance was instead given by Richard Strauss, a friend of the composer who had originally intended to direct Hänsel and Gretel during a run during the Weimar Christmas season due to the sickness of a vocalist. The opera gained popularity right away. It was shown in dozens of German theaters alone in its first year. Play Hansel and Gretel Overture in full length on SoundCloud: