University of Gothenburg
Hansel and Gretel sitting on red spiral stairs, in front of a door
Hansel (Anne Birgitte Bouwhuis Røkke) and Gretel (Amelie Flink).
Photo: Johan Wingborg

Final production opera: Hansel and Gretel

The final production of the 2022 Master's Programme in Opera was Hansel and Gretel (Hänsel und Gretel), an opera in two acts with music by Engelbert Humperdinck. This production was performed at the Academy of Music and Drama from 7-16 December 2022.

What if a whole life was contained in a single fairy tale?

A fairy tale that plays out over and over until it ends the way you want it to.
With each turn you get one step closer to what you think you want. But with each turn, what you want changes and leads you in new directions. To be thrown into the dark forest and lost, is the lot of every young man. But what you find out there, and how you deal with it, is the real adventure. The goal is not to find your way out of the forest, the goal is to find yourself, in the forest.

The performance is sung in German.

Witch (Katariina Poikela)
Witch (Katariina Poikela)
Photo: Johan Wingborg
Photo: Johan Wingborg
Photo: Johan Wingborg
Photo: Johan Wingborg
Photo: Johan Wingborg
Photo: Johan Wingborg

Hansel and Gretel

Music Engelbert Humperdinck
Libretto Adelheid Wette
Director Mira Bartov 
Scenography/costume Leif Persson 
Conductor Henrik Schaefer 
Orchestra University of Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra

Father (Marcus Bartoletti) and Mother (Katariina Poikela)
Father (Marcus Bartoletti) and Mother (Katariina Poikela)
Photo: Johan Wingborg

Synopsis (our version)

Hansel and Gretel are at home alone. They are cold and hungry. They try to keep fear and hunger away by fantasizing and playing. Mother comes home and is furious when she discovers that they have not done the work they should have and throws them out of the house after having broken a milk jar while chasing them. She falls asleep on the kitchen table and wakes up by father's drunken arrival. He has had a good day at work, sold lots of brooms and brings groceries for a feast. But when he finds out mother has thrown out the children and told them to go to Ilsenstein, he is horrified. That part of the forest is under the spell of dark magic and is inhabited by a witch. The parents leave in a hurry to find their children before it’s too late...

From the moment the children enter the forest, strange things start to happen. From here onwards no logical explanations can be made. All that is certain is that time seems to speed up. In fact, years pass by as Hansel and Gretel go from childhood to youth and young adulthood, before reaching the end of their adventure.

Gretel (Stephania Parlantza) and Hansel's feet
Gretel (Stephania Parlantza) and Hansel's feet
Photo: Johan Wingborg


Hansel Anne Birgitte Bouwhuis Røkke 
Gretel Amelie Flink/Stephania Parlantza 
Mother/Witch Katariina Poikela 
Father Marcus Bartoletti 
Sand/Taumännchen Stephania Parlantza/Amelie Flink 

Students from the bachelor's programme in Opera, year 1:
Annalouisa Magnusson
Linnea Nordström
Julia Nylander
Sally Sallingboe Jørgensen
Linnea Simon
Sandra Wettergren

University of Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra

First Violins
Joachim Busschere (leader)
Eleni Giovanis (leader)
Merlijn De Coorde
Tatu Järvilehto
Raven Mischke

Socond Violins
Esther Duerinck
Ekin Kuzukiran
Eva Presern
Beatriz Tomás Pereira
Liina Tamminen
Beatriz Manzanilla Saglimbeni

Andrea Oliva Blanco
Taslima Syed Bastin
Bengt Gilbert

Grace Coughlan
János Alexander Madaras
Elisabeth Nilsson
Ronja Schneider
Johanna Tärnrot
Axel Vilborg

Double Basses
David Levy
Petra Johansson

Reetta Hakala
Raquel Olmo Hernandez
Annie Tengstrand

Daniel Huertas Pavón
Laura Ribes Franco

Stefano Bianchetti
Francesca Salvestri

Francesco Storari
Samer Massaad

Joel Jaakkola
Weronika Pietrzak

Tadej Vujanic
Esten Sløgedal Sørhus
Frida Lygner
Albert Asp

Emilie Liknes
Ludvig Forslund

Simon Segura Arriola
David Westerbrand
Lydia Johansson
Andrea Radi
Torstein Åvar Sollien

Malin Kjellgren

Hansel (Anne Birgitte Bouwhuis Røkke) and Sand/Taumännchen (Stephania Parlantza)
Hansel (Anne Birgitte Bouwhuis Røkke) and Sand/Taumännchen (Stephania Parlantza)
Photo: Johan Wingborg


Set and costume design Leif Persson
Lighting design and projections Peter Wikström
Mask and wig design Lars Carlsson

Set design Mikael Eriksson, Leif Persson, Peter Holmgren
Costume studio Ina Nyholm, Jenny Beckman, Amanda Siljebratt
Orchestra producer David Glänneskog/David Westerbrand
Rehearsal coach Maria Ingemarsson Berg
Producer Hanne Wirde
Communication Tobias Egle
Programme Supervisor Opera Education Monica Danielson
Head of the Performing Arts Unit Catharina Bergil
Head of Classical Music Unit Anders Köllerström

Photo: Johan Wingborg

A few words from the director.

Growing up is the greatest adventure of our lives. ...but we don't know that until much later.

This is in fact what most fairytales are about. Getting lost in order to find ourselves. Which we do of course by fighting dragons and witches in order to win the prince, princess or first price. After having survived childhood, we find ourselves better or worse equipped with the characteristics that guide us in the fatal choices we make, that will eventually form our destinies. The ancient question of "How much are we determined by heritage or environment?" leaves out the most interesting factor. Namely: what is uniquely our own, the potential we are born with. Some call it “The Acorn Theory”.

The impressions we have as children, while still discovering what it means to be alive, are deeply rooted in us. They will become our encyclopedia of references and associations. The first rainy day, will forever represent rainy days.

We may not have the privilege to choose which part we play in our own lives at the outset, but it is never too late to remedy any wrong casting that may have been done along the way. Or as T. S. Eliot so eloquently said: "We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."

Mira Bartov, director and Leif Persson, scenography/costume
Mira Bartov, director and Leif Persson, scenography/costume
Photo: Johan Wingborg
Photo: Johan Wingborg
Photo: Johan Wingborg
Photo: Johan Wingborg
Photo: Johan Wingborg