Hansel and Gretel © Angela Sterling
A narrated, hour-long ballet, Hansel & Gretel was created for young audiences and is performed by the students of Pacific Northwest Ballet School. Based on the classic fairy tale of a brother and sister who become lost in the forest only to stumble upon a house made of delicious confections and a welcoming witch, the ballet is perfectly timed for children, and a wonderful introduction to dance and theater.
Music: Oskar Nedbal (excerpts from From Tale to Tale, 1907, and Princess Hyacinth, 1910)
Concept and Choreography: Bruce Wells
Scenic Design: Edith Whitsett
Costume Design: Pacific Northwest Ballet Costume Shop
Witch Costume Design: Victoria McFall
Lighting Design: Randall G. Chiarelli
Duration: 60 minutes
Premiere: March 18, 2007; Pacific Northwest Ballet School
I had long held the idea of creating a ballet to the classic fairy tale Hansel & Gretel. It seemed a perfect scenario, especially for a children’s ballet. With the beloved opera by Engelbert Humperdinck being the best-known score, it was with great joy that I discovered the ballets of Czechoslovakian composer Oskar Nedbal (1874-1930). His music clearly creates the right atmosphere for the ballet. I compiled my score for this production of Hansel & Gretel from two of his story ballets: From Tale to Tale, composed in 1907, and Princess Hyacinth, composed in 1910. They possess the right folk dance quality and have strong dramatic passages. Written in the style of the great ballets, with a combination of storytelling scenes and divertissement, I could hear, and then see, my vision of Hansel & Gretel come to life: first, the “March of the Ginger Bread Soldiers,” then the “Dance of the Moonbeams,” who protect Hansel and Gretel while they sleep through the night. When I heard “Nibble, nibble little mouse, who’s that nibbling on my house,” I knew I had found my score and the ballet Hansel & Gretel.
Notes by Bruce Wells.