Hansel's and Gretel’s parents are in despair as they have no money for food. Hunger is the family’s constant companion, the two children are forced to work and their father drowns his distress in alcohol. It is no wonder that the children fall asleep after having been sent into the forest. In their dreams they come across an edible cottage all for themselves. But the cottage is unfit for consumption – on the contrary: Here the children themselves are meant to be eaten.
In the early 1890s, composer Engelbert Humperdinck and his librettist Adelheid Wette created an operatic fairy tale which clearly depicted the social deprivation and poverty of their times. With his staging concept, Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov locates that social plight exactly where our guilty conscience projects it these days: in Africa.