Hansel and Gretel Background Image FINAL

Hansel and Gretel Background

Credits

Director and Choreographer: Christopher Hampson
Design: Gary Harris
Lighting: George Thompson
Music: Engelbert Humperdinck

Biographies

Chris Headshot-72Christopher Hampson - Director and Choreographer

Christopher Hampson joined Scottish Ballet as Artistic Director in August 2012.

Christopher trained at the Royal Ballet Schools. His choreographic work began there and continued at English National Ballet (ENB), where he danced until 1999 and for whom he subsequently created numerous award-winning works, including Double Concerto, Perpetuum Mobile, Country Garden, Concerto Grosso and The Nutcracker.

Christopher’s Romeo & Juliet, created for the Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB), was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award (Best New Production 2005) and his production of Giselle for the National Theatre in Prague has been performed every year since its premiere in 2004. Christopher created Sinfonietta Giocosa for the Atlanta Ballet (USA) in 2006 and after a New York tour it received its UK premiere with ENB in 2007.

He created Cinderella for RNZB in 2007, which was subsequently hailed as Best New Production by the New Zealand Herald and televised by TVNZ in 2009. His work has toured Australia, China, the USA and throughout Europe. His most recent commissions are Dear Norman (Royal Ballet, 2009); Sextet (Ballet Black/ROH2, 2010); Silhouette (RNZB, 2010), Rite of Spring (Atlanta Ballet, 2011) and Storyville (Ballet Black/ROH2, 2012), nominated for a National Dance Award 2012. He will be presenting his world premiere of Hansel & Gretel (2013) for Scottish Ballet this December.

Christopher is a co-founder of the International Ballet Masterclasses in Prague and has been a guest teacher for English National Ballet, Royal Swedish Ballet, Royal New Zealand Ballet, Hong Kong Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Bonachela Dance Company, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures and the Genée International Ballet Competition. Christopher’s work now forms part of the Solo Seal Award for the Royal Academy of Dance.

Engelbert Humperdinck HeadshotEngelbert Humperdinck

Engelbert Humperdinck was a German composer born at Siegburg in the Rhine Province in September 1854, best known for his opera Hänsel und Gretel.

After receiving piano lessons, Humperdinck produced his first composition when he was 7 years old. His first attempts at works for the stage were two Singspiele written at the age of 13. His parents disapproved of his plans for a career in music and encouraged him to study architecture, however he began taking music classes under Ferdinand Hiller and Isidor Seiss at the Cologne Conservatory in 1872. Two years later, he won a scholarship that enabled him to go to Munich, where he studied with Franz Lachner and later with Josef Rheinberger. In 1879, he won the first Mendelssohn Award given by the Mendelssohn Stiftung foundation in Berlin. He went to Italy and became acquainted with Richard Wagner in Naples, who then invited him to join him in Bayreuth and during 1880 and 1881 Humperdinck assisted in the production of Parsifal. He also acted as music tutor to Siegfried, Wagner's son.

His reputation rests highly on his opera Hänsel und Gretel, which he began work on in Frankfurt in 1890. It all started when he was accompanying a puppet show his nieces were giving at home. Then, using a libretto by his sister Adelheid Wette loosely based on the version of the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, he composed a Singspiel of 16 songs with piano accompaniment and connecting dialogue. By the start of 1891 he had begun working on a complete orchestration.

On 23 December 1893, the opera premiered in Weimar. Richard Strauss, conductor, called it "a masterpiece of the highest quality... all of it original, new, and so authentically German." With such original synthesis of Wagnerian techniques and traditional German folk songs, Hänsel und Gretel was an instant and overwhelming success.

Hänsel und Gretel has always been Humperdinck's most beloved work. In 1923 it was chosen by the Royal Opera House (London) to be their first complete radio opera broadcast and eight years later, it was the first opera transmitted live from the Metropolitan Opera (New York). To this day it remains a worldwide favourite.

Gary Harris Headshot-Web cropGary Harris - Set and Costume Design

Gary was born in London, and trained at the Arts Educational and the Royal Ballet Schools. He joined the London Festival Ballet (now English National Ballet) in 1978 and was one of the company’s leading solists until he left in 1985 to pursue a career as a freelance dancer, performing in West End shows, including On Your Toes, La Cage aux Folles and Phantom of the Opera. He has worked the world over as a dancer, teacher, repetiteur and designer. In 1991 he joined the Royal Ballet, London, as notator and repetiteur, working with choreographers such as William Forsythe and Kenneth MacMillan and re-staging the works of Fredrick Ashton. He assisted Kenneth MacMillan in the first staging Manon for the Paris Opera Ballet in 1990, and restaged Song of the Earth for the same company in 1996. He was Associate Artistic Director of the Hong Kong Ballet and choreographed a cast of 1,200 performers for the handover of Macau back to China in 1999. Gary was Artistic Director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet from September 2001 – December 2010. For the RNZB, he restaged Swan Lake, Paquita, Coppelia and Giselle. The company premiered his production of The Nutcracker in 2005 and Don Quixote in 2008. Notable design commissions include The Sleeping Beauty and Raymonda for the National Ballet of China, Christopher Hampson’s Double Concerto for English National Ballet and Saltarello, Esquisses and The Sleeping Beauty for the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Since returning from New Zealand, Gary has continued re-staging the works of Kenneth MacMillan.

 

What's On

Discover our upcoming performances

Find out more

Donate

Support Scottish Ballet

Find out more

Education

Why it is central to our work

Find out more