Childrens opera for four voices and seven dwarves (2016)

Music by

Wolfgang Mitterer based on Engelbert Humperdinck

Text by

Gerhard Dienstbier based on Adelheid Wette

»Mirror, mirror on the wall«: The Grimm brothers’ best-known fairy tale about the evil stepmother, her jealousy of Snow White’s beauty, the seven dwarves and the poison apple, has been told in many adaptations. It is little known that Engelbert Humperdinck, the creator of the »Hänsel und Gretel« opera, also worked with this material.

In 1888, before he wrote his world-famous fairy tale opera, he worked on a Liederspiel about the tale of Snow White, for which – as with »Hänsel und Gretel« – his sister Adelheid Wette had written a libretto. Humperdinck did not get very far with the work, and there are only four surviving songs from it. In 2016, the Austrian composer Wolfgang Mitterer, whose Grimm brothers’ opera »Das tapfere Schneiderlein« had been performed at the Werkstatt im Schiller Theater in 2012, began to work on completing Humperdinck’s fragment according to the original libretto. For the missing sections, he drew on the music of Humperdinck’s other fairy tale operas, »Hänsel und Gretel«, »Dornröschen« and »Die Königskinder«. Mitterer juxtaposes the layer of original music by Humperdinck, scored for piano, contrabass and percussion, with an entirely different soundscape of electronic feeds. Along with the four singers, who take on shifting roles in the fairy tale, the seven dwarves are of course also present: they are played by children from the children’s choir of the Staatsoper, who give strong support to Snow White in her struggle against the evil queen.



programme book