Hansel and Gretel – Synopsis


Setting: The woods of the Ilsenstein

Act I

Hänsel works on making a broom while Gretel knits a stocking. Both are starving, and they sing of their everlasting hunger. Gretel chides Hansel for his complaining. Putting their chores aside, they begin to dance, but their mother enters and scolds them for their dalliance. She breaks a jug of milk and is infuriated with her naughty children, sending them off to pick strawberries. Their father enters happily with unexpected provisions, having sold his brooms for a premium at a nearby fair. He is shocked to discover that the children are wandering near Ilsenstein, where the evil witch resides.

 

Act II

In the forest, Hansel praises himself for the number of strawberries he has picked while Gretel admires a wreath she’s made. Absentmindedly, they eat all the berries and then realize how this will anger their mother. Darkness and fog envelop the children. The Sandman appears and puts them to sleep. As they become drowsy, they say their evening prayers.

 

Act III

When morning breaks, the Dew Fairy awakens Hänsel and Gretel. They both discover that they have had the same dream about angels descending to earth. The two children find themselves in front of a house made of cakes, pastries and gingerbread. They begin to nibble on the sugary treats. The Witch sneaks up behind them and throws a rope around Hänsel’s neck. She offers her friendship, but both children are suspicious. The Witch casts a spell to immobilize them and puts Hänsel in a cage, while Gretel watches helplessly.

Once inside, the Witch stokes the stove’s fire, intending to cook both children. Gretel manages to unlock the cage, and she and Hänsel shove the Witch into the oven and slam the door shut. As soon as she is dead, a curse is lifted, and the gingerbread children resume human form. Hänsel and Gretel are reunited with their father while the others drag the Witch, now transformed into a gingerbread cake, out of the oven.