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Humperdinck: Hansel and Gretel [DVD] [2008] [2010]

Price: £24.75 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Directors: Sue Judd
  • Writers: Adelheid Wette
  • Producers: Flavia Rittner, James Whitbourn, Jonathan Haswell
  • Format: Box set, Classical, Colour, DVD-Video, PAL, Widescreen
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Opus Arte
  • DVD Release Date: 1 Jun 2009
  • Run Time: 138 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0028O34RW
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 107,522 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Diana Damrau and Angelika Kirchschlager star in the acclaimed 2008 production of Humperdinck's famous fairytale opera, in the company of two of Britain's most revered musical figures: Thomas Allen, playing the role of the Father, and the legendary conductor Colin Davis. Directors Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser combine their characteristic wit and a dash of deliciously dark comedy with the opera's fairytale charm. Humperdinck's music mixes catchy folk-like songs with sumptuous instrumental colour, making the result as tunefully approachable, musically memorable and visually delightful as opera gets. Filmed in High Definition and recorded in full Surround Sound.


'Angelika Kirchschlager's tousled, boyish Hänsel and Diana Damrau's Gretel are dramatically convincing and vocally superb, while their parents, excellently sung and played by Elizabeth Connell and Thomas Allen, earn our sympathy as well as our censure. Pumeza Matshikiza's goblin-like Sandman is truly magical and Anita Watson's feather-dusting Dew Fairy another amusing creation. Colin Davis, unafraid to relish the icing on the cake, draws a warm, effulgent sound from the orchestra.' --Evening Standard

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Leonardo on 3 Oct 2009
Format: DVD
My heart sank when I saw that the BBC had chosen this production for its Christmas Day dose of culture. I love the opera but this production had been indifferently reviewed and its directors, Patrice Caurier & Moshe Leiser, can produce cheap and nasty work.

Well they didn't break the bank in this production but, to my surprise it is very effective and imaginative. It helps to have it in German and it helps to have two excellent interpreters of the title roles. Angelica Kirchschlager and Diana Damrau are convincing as brother and sister and look the part with the willowy Kirchschlager, in particular looking very boyish. The scene with the parents can be a bit anticlimactic but not in this production with veterans Thomas Allen and Elizabeth Connell giving a master class in how to act in opera. I particularly liked Allen's drunken wooing of his wife. Anja Silja as the witch makes the action more dark and frightening than in the recent production that I saw from the Met with Philip Langridge in the role. Having a woman rather than a pantomime dame in the part makes everything more serious.

This is an opera all about food and hunger, (the recent Glyndebourne production was set in a supermarket). Pat and Mo imaginatively restage the dream banquet as a Christmas scene with the parents handing Hansel and Gretel two large, shiny presents. They open the boxes and remove layer upon layer of wrapping until they arrive at half a sandwich each. Far from being disappointed, they are delighted with their gifts and eat them slowly and with relish. Pat and Mo's cheapskate tendency is seen amusingly in the scene with the gingerbread house. Instead of a full-size house the children find a cake in the shape of a doll's house.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Satish Kamath on 4 July 2011
Format: Blu-ray
This production is the one of the two that rival the Gruberova/Solti one of the 1980s. True, Hansel and Gretel in this do not look like kids, which seems to be the only criticism that some people have recorded, but with the exception of the Zurich production with Malin Hartelius and Liliana Nikiteanu, no production that I know of has come up to that standard insofar as that kind of criticism goes. This Opera does require some serious singing skills, and I dont think any of the very young brats that are going around can do justice to a blu ray or dvd production of this.

I would also state that this production has been very well made, with no holds barred for visuals that stun and scare the target audience (mainly children, but enjoyed more by adults too), something that Humperdink himself avoided - no matter.
It does not make it yucky like some scenes from the recent MET production (Alice Coote, Christine Schäfer).

I would gladly recommend this as a companion to the Solti production (that was marred by pesky kids hamming it away in the audience being shown from time to time, distracting one from the fabulous film) insofar as the music and singing are concerned. Moreover, it is a Film and not performed on stage like this one..It also scores high above productions that are keen on ruining it be setting the scenes in places like malls and such and trying to modernize it. Singing is top quality and so is the conducting.

BUY IT is my recommendation.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By I. Zaneres on 9 Oct 2012
Format: Blu-ray
The set opens with Hansel, Kirchsclager, and Gretel, Damrau, in their attic bedroom, which is brilliantly proportioned. They are a delightful pair of naughty children. Characterisation is great and the voices all one could wish for.
Connell is appealing as the overtired, overworked and underfunded mother.
Thomas Allen is in his usual fine vocal form as father, he is poor but happy and lovingly torments his poor wife.
In act 2 the woodland setting is very well done. I love the sandman, the costume is a minor masterpiece, ably sung by Matshikiza. The animal angels watching over the childrens sleep, and the bringing on of the fire is inspirational, This is of course a fairy tale and a dream.
Act 3 opens with a pleasantly pink dew fairy, Anita Watson, who amongst her other good works keeps the forest clean, she has a pleasant voice.
The gingerbread house is a cake, subtly pushed on stage by the witch, who keeps a weather eye on the children before arriving on her zimmer frame. Makes a change from broomsticks. Unfortunately Anja Silva is a weak link vocally, with a long, slow and deep vibrato on sustained notes. The characterisation is OK.
The forest to cottage interior is rather good, full marks to the set designers.
The explosive end is quite a suprise. The children in the finale are in good voice.
Quite enjoyable but not traditional, recommended if you like updates.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David G. Davies on 9 Mar 2010
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
What a superb opera this is, so tuneful and yet with an almost Wagnerian orchestration at times. A superb performance under Colin Davis - it's hard to imagine how it could be better.

I was comparing the blue ray with the original broadcast and the blue ray is simply more involving. That's partly due to the extra picture detail but even more so, I think, to the superb 5.1 lossless sound which does full justice to Humperdink's thrilling orchestrations and such great performances. The heavy brass come across with all the immediacy of being there in the stalls, and the result is a thrilling experience.

The extras are taken from the BBC broadcast, and very good they are too. That's a practice that should be more common - many of the Covent Garden and Glyndebourne broadcasts had very good interval documentaries, rehearsal footage or interviews that got lost when they moved to disc. Blue Ray has the space for it - please, leave them in.

So, my unhesitating advice is - order it now. It's a perfect tonic for these days of recession and gloom.
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