The Metropolitan Opera HD Live (2006–…): Season 2, Episode 2 - Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel - full transcript

Set in the industrialized 1950s, Hansel and Gretel are latch-key kids to a depressed mother and overworked father. The witch runs a stainless-steel kitchen with modern gadgets and a glass-door oven. One hopes it's the self-cleaning kind.

Goosey goosey gander,
the mouse in the straw...

...put out his little head.
Can you guess what he saw?

The geese had no shoes
in the ice and the snow.

Cobbler, can't you make some?
The answer was --

Which is why they were barefoot.


I sit here half-dead.

Who will lend me money
to buy me some bread?

I'll sell my old mattress
and sleep where I please.

I'd rather have a bite
than be bitten by --

It's hunger that bites me!


How I wish Mother would hurry up home.

My stomach thinks it could eat a stone.

Crusts of bread,
that's all we've had.

Hunger keeps gnawing,
driving you mad.

Hush, Hansel,
think of our father's refrain...

...when Mother curses or complains.

"When in need or dark despair..."

"...God will always hear our prayer."

So nicely pat, so neat.

But such fancy words are no good to eat.

Gretel, I wonder how it would feel...

...if we'd just gorged
a scrumptious meal?

Strawberry pancakes
and beef with noodles....

When did Mum last make apple strudels?

Stop. What's that sulky glare!

What is it doing there,
that gruesome stare?

Its eyes are askew.
Phew, what a pout!

Watch how I'm chasing
that gremlin out!

Down with the dumps,
out with the grumps.

We'll do without you,
spite you and flout you.

Keep your nose out, you peddler of doubt, you.
Gremlin, grumpy old grout...

...griping and groaning and grousing about.
Pack your bag, ill-mannered lout!

Gremlin, gremlin, grumpy old grout...

...griping and groaning
and grousing about...

...pack your bag, on your nag,
ill-mannered lout!

I'll tell you on one condition...

...what I have found on my secret mission.

Oh, a secret.
Now I can hardly wait.

On one condition then...
no more complaints.

There's milk in that jug,
full to the brim.

The neighbors could see
we were looking thin!

When Mother comes, we'll both get our wish...
rice pudding, our favorite dish!

Pudding, brimming with cream!
I'm ready if it's not just a dream.

How thick is the cream on the top?
Let's try it.

- I'd like to guzzle all of it!
- Hansel, stop it. Thieving again....

Keep your hands off it
or I'll get the blame.

Now leave it and get back to work,
be quick.

If you get caught, we'll get the stick.

Mother is coming,
and nothing's been done.

Being spanked is not much fun.

Work again? I've had enough.
Why is work such boring stuff?

Hansel is lazy. Slacking again.

We should be playing our dancing game.

Dancing! And only we know the way.

The magic dance is our secret play.

Singing the song
that our granny sings us...

...grasping the magic power it brings us.

Little brother, dance with me.
Take my hand, advance with me.

One foot in, one foot out.
Bow your head and turn about.

Sister, I'm a sorry sight.
Which is left and which is right?

Show me once more how it goes,
then I might avoid your toes!

With your foot, go tap tap tap.
With your hands, go clap clap clap.

One foot in, one foot out.
Bow your head and turn about.

Brother, you have learned it well.
Dancing breaks the gremlin's spell.

Once the boy gets down to school,
maybe he's not such a fool.

With your head, go nick nick nick.
With your fingers, go click click click.

One foot in, one foot out.

Take a bow and turn about.

Dance it nimble, dance it neat.
Make it twinkle from your feet.

When two children join together,
they are more than twice as clever.

I love to dance and sing
and play my games...hate to be alone.

Let's dance away our hunger pains.
The dance is all we own.

Turn around again and do it faster.
Can't you make your legs do more than that?

Come over here, you lazy little rat!

Let go of me, I'm not your little brat.

A man has more important work
than dancing with a girl.

But big boy, I'm too strong for you.
I'll make you join the whirl.

You naughty girl,
your stocking has a hole.

You stubborn boy,
you'll do as you are told.

A wicked child is not allowed
to share the dance with me.

Don't be cross, you bossy girl.

I'll catch you, you will see.

Spin until your head's askew,
dance until you drop.

And if you wear your stockings through...

...let Mother sew them up.

What do you think you are doing?

- Well, Hansel was feeling...
- Gretel was squealing.

Children, you'll bring this family to ruin.

You are both selfish. You should be working.
Instead, you've been shirking.

You never think how your parents suffer.

Each day for us,
the struggle gets tougher.

How much have you done?

Not one is finished!

And you, you waster,
you've had your warning.

"Work hard," I said
when I left you this morning.

You don't do a stroke, but you still want feeding.
You will learn when your backs are bleeding!

You've made me ruin the supper.

Now we are really scuppered.

Damn you, I saw you grin.
Wait till your father comes in.

Go at once, find me some

..little runts.

Come back with the basket
full to the brim.

Or you'll be torn limb from limb!

The jug all in bits,
and guess who broke you.

That's what happens
when children provoke you.

My God, we're desperate.

We've nothing to live on.

The children will starve,
there's nothing to give them.

No stock in the stock-pot... crust in the bin.

No wonder they're feeble and thin.

I'm exhausted.

Weary...I'm finished.

Dear God...give us...

Light the fire, your husband's here.

Full of luck and full of cheer!

Curse the poor, how much we suffer.

Work all day, and get no supper.

In your pocket, a burning hole.
In your stomach, a gnawing mole.

Hunger eats away your soul.

Scraps that fall from rich men's tables
form the feasts of poor men's fables.

We could live on what they threw.

We've a whole week long to chew.

Hunger eats what rich men spew.

Hunger cooks the finest dish...

...for all he does is wish and wish.

Who cares if he's a chef or not?

You can't cook much with an empty pot.

That's why I'm a drunken sot.

Mother, look what I have brought.

What is this bawling,
for goodness sake?

That caterwauling
that's made me awake?

It is a beast. A lion, at least...

...whose hungry yell demands his feast.

Hunger is a greedy beast.

Bites and fights to be released...

That rotten skunk
has come home drunk.

He's full of wine,
so let him pack his trunk!

It's been a wonderful day.
High time that you were cuddled.

It looks that way
because your brain's befuddled.

My wife is such a sweet.

Maybe she'll tell me what's to eat.

This menu is a simple matter.

A empty platter.

Empty cup, empty plate...

...and my purse in the self-same state.

Cheer up, Mother, salvation's here.
And you've every cause to cheer.

Look, Mother.
What do you think of this for supper?

What? I'm dreaming.

Lard and butter, flour and sausage...

...eggs and honey!
Where did you find the money?

Carrots, onions...and you found some tea...

...a quarter pound.

Funny how the thought of food...

...puts you in a better mood.

So here's my story then, from the top.

Back in 1843,
we achieved democracy.

So they've planned a grand celebration,
fanfares, flags and hymns to the nation.

Thus the brushes business is booming.
Every blade of grass needs grooming.

Even in the roughest quarter,
there's a run on soap and water.

Every street looks oh so quaint,
squeaky clean in fresh white paint.

Buy brushes!

I soon found that a boomtown
is a broom-town!

I could have sold them...

...ten times over.
And at sky-high prices, I'm in clover.

Grease the pans, mix the batter,
bring out every dish and platter.

Heat the stove...

...and boil the kettle.

But wait...where are Hansel and Gretel?

I've no idea.

But there's one thing I know for sure...

...our jug got smashed on the floor.

- They broke the brand-new jug?
- The milk went down the plug.

It's always the same.
While we're at work, they're misbehaving.

If you're nice with them, they abuse it.
If you give them work to do, they refuse it.

What noise they were making,
dancing so wildly the house was shaking.

I got so angry I thought I'd choke.

That was how the jug got broke.

Don't get so cross.
On a day like today, it's no loss.

You sent them to bed without food?

They went to the haunted wood.

You must be insane!

Don't hit me like that again.

At night, it's a gruesome
and sordid place.

And no child should be there alone.

Many a child has been lost
without trace...

...where evil itself has its home.

The guzzling witches!

What's that to do with a broomstick?

The know what it's for.

They ride on it, the witches.

But there's one, a crone,
who lives alone...

...with Satan's eyes
and a heart of stone.

At dead of night,
when no one's in sight...

...she rides out to vent
her hate and spite.

From forest to crag,
on her broomstick, the hag...

..with a fiendish spring,
makes the death-knell ring.

No children sing
in the shade of her wing...

...for she's riding for the devil...

...the black power of darkness!

Tell me everything.

By day, the louse
plays cat and mouse... her crispy, crunchy
chocolate house.

The unwary child is soon beguiled.

The dear old lady,
how sweetly she smiled!

Once the child is in,
her torments begin.

The helpless child, the plaything of sin.

She is stripped of her clothes.
In the oven she goes.

As the spit turns,
skin blisters and burns.

When she's tender, nicely toasted...

...your daughter is roasted!

- And when she's been roasted?
- The witch will devour her!

Every morsel?

My children, I'm coming!
I cannot hold on.

Woman, I will come as well... save our poor kids
from the jaws of hell!

A dwarf stood in the forest,
but never spoke.

He wrapped himself up tight
in his red cloak.

Little man, who can you be?
Are you just another tree?

Did you bring that crimson cloak
for me?

He balanced there on one leg
and took his nap...

...and hid his glassy eye
with his black cap.

If I woke you, tap tap tap,
would your little leg go snap...

...hiding there beneath your black cap?

Hiding there, beneath your black cap!

Just look at these berries.
The basket's groaning.

Let that put a stop
to my mother's moaning.

My flower's almost finished.

It's really quite the best I've made.

Boys don't wear
soppy things like that.

That is really a girl's sort of hat.

What a lady! You look good.

I shall make you
May Queen of the Wood.

If I am the May Queen for today,
my page presents the royal bouquet.

May Queen of the Wood,
I lie at your feet...

...this basket of berries to guard...

...not to eat!

Cuckoo, eggs are blue.

Cuckoo, berries, too!

I like that game. Look at me!

Watch how the baby cuckoo grows.

He steals the food
from under your nose.

Cuckoo jumps the queue.

Cuckoo gets his due.

Throw your babies out.
I'm first!

Let them starve or die of thirst.

If you've filled your basket full... the cuckoo steal them all.

Hansel, now look what you've done.

You have scoffed all the berries, you pig you.

Wait till Mother hears.

She'll beat you
and then there'll be tears.

Now, now, don't pull that one on me.

Gretel, you had your share,
I can see.

Come, we'd better find more quickly.

Now it's too dark,
and those brambles too are prickly.

Of course, you could look
for all you're worth...

...but now it's the darkest place
on earth.

Hansel, we must have been mad.

How could we have both been
so stupid and bad?

We wasted our time
so carelessly playing.

Hear what the pine trees are saying.

Listen to the whispering glade.

"Are you not afraid?"

I think we've lost our way.

We've lost our way!

I will look after you, my dear.
I am a boy, I know no fear.

We're bound to come to some harm.

Have courage. Come, don't be alarmed.

What are those shimmering
columns of light?

The silver birch
in their robes of white.

What's that... that grins
in the depths of the swamp?

That's just the moon
on a willow stump.

There is a face, so mean and sly.
I'm sure it winked its evil eye.

Mind you own business!
Do you hear? You spy!

Those lights coming nearer --
they'll burn in my hair!

Fire-flies are gathering in the air.

Don't let it panic you.
Look, it's clear what we have to do.

Who's there?

We don't know where we are.


Did you hear that?

They answered, "Far!"

Someone else understood.

I'm frightened. It scares me.
There is bad in the wood.

This is where children
get lost for good.

Don't say that.

Come here and hold me tight.

I'll keep you safe
throughout the night.

Now ghostly tongues of mist
are sneering.

How they're swirling all around us,

Don't touch me! Just leave me alone!

Look there!

Why is he in the wood at night?

I am the little sandman.

A friendly, helping hand man.

My dears, I've come to touch you.

To cuddle and to clutch you...

...and gently spread my merchandise...

...of sand into your weary eyes.

At once, those heavy eyelids close.

In seconds, you've begun to doze.

And when you're deep
and very fast asleep...

...light shimmers from the lodestar... show the angels where you are.

They will bring you safely
to the land of dreams.

My dreaming, dreaming children...

...such happy seeming children...

...linger in the land of dreams.

Sandman, goodbye.

Let's say our prayers before we sleep.

When each child lays down its head...

...fourteen angels guard the bed.

Two will stand above me... my feet, to love me.

Two upon my right hand...

...on my left, two more stand.

Two will give me warning.

Two announce the morning.

Two times seven...

...will show me God in heaven.

When dew drops on the daisy...

...the dawn is dim and hazy.

The early birds amaze me...

...but woe betide the lazy.

Each dawn, you yawn as my surprise...

...of sunlight fills your bleary eyes.

A gentle breeze is stirring.
The hum of life is purring.

Then up you spring,
reborn in the glory of the morning.

A golden day is dawning.

Wake up, you sleepers.
It's rise and shine.

Rise up and greet the sunshine.

So up, you sleepers, awake.

Where am I?

Sleeping...dreaming or dead?

I slept here?

In a pine-tree bed!

High in the branches...

...a blackbird is calling.

Down to my bedroom...

...sweet notes are falling.

Of course, you rose
at the break of day.

The sun is up, you're on your way.

You busy blackbird.

Good to hear you!

The lazy lump, I call him.

Wake up there.

Hansel's a fool.

He's late for school.

The lark is up and ready.

He's soaring high and heady.

I'm no fool.

And that's a rule.

How could I not know
that sunrise happened long ago?

I feel so good here in the wood.

I never slept so soundly before.

We both slept well, and what is more...

...I dreamt a very special dream.

But what did it mean?

I dreamt that distant bells
were ringing.

The stars resounded
and angels singing.

Clouds that were flooded
in rosy light...

...glowed as they floated
in banks through the night.

Suddenly, night is turned to day
before me.

Earth is blazing with heaven's glory.

There's a golden ladder.

Angels defend it.

Angels in pairs descend it.

They were so bold there
with shining wings of gold.

Yes, I counted them. Fourteen all told.

You also dreamt
there were angels here?

Right here, they gather round.

And that way, they disappear.

Keep still! Not a sound!

What is that?
Like magic and not a sound?

As if a spring of some magic unwound.

It smells so inviting,
a gem set in the wood.

Fancy a night
in a house made of food...

..with walls to be biting
and roofs to be chewed.

All over, the icing Mama used to make...

...beneath that marzipan
Battenburg cake.

And then, in a pen,
there are gingerbread men.

A prince's castle,
a gem beyond all price.

A magic parcel of sugar
and all things nice.

O prince, we are humble.
We ask for your advice.

With hunger, we grumble.

Your word would suffice.

Then the starving could stumble...

...towards a paradise.

Nobody answers.

The silence is ghoulish.

Why don't we taste it?

Don't be so foolish.

I'm sure it is meant to deceive.

This food...all for nothing?

Now don't be naive.

It has such a friendly face.

The angels meant us
to find this place.

Perhaps you are right.

That's why we both dreamt of them
last night.

The prospect is far too enticing.

Can't resist, it's not to be missed...

...the almond icing!

Greedy little mousey,
stop nibbling at my housey.

Did you hear that?

The breeze....

Just wind in the trees.

Do you like it?

Come on, it's your turn.

It tastes so delicious
you have to have some more.

For we've never tasted
such heaven before.

- It's divine!
- Like brandy butter!

So sweet!

So crunchy!

Rich and crunchy.

And round the roof
is a chocolate gutter.

Master baker,
look out for your roof!

This mouse has got a such a
sweet little tooth!

Greedy little mousey...

...stop nibbling at my housey.

There goes the breeze...

...the wind in the trees.

Hansel, don't be so greedy.
Remember the poor and the needy.

You be the prig.
I'll be a pig!

You should say, "please."
The wind agrees.

Don't be a tease!
I eat what I please!

Who are you? Let me go!

Scrumptious child!

And you, my bumptious child!

You've come on a visit.
Fancy that.

I love little children,
so soft and fat!

Who are you? Go away!
You're a freak!

Now, darling, that's no way to speak.

Children, I want you
to like me a little.

My name's Rosina Lickspittle.

When you're with me,
there's nothing to fear.

Quite harmless, just a poor old dear.

I'm fond of children, as you will see.

That's why I love... have them for tea!

Go, ugly mug, go on your way.

Leave us...

...d'you hear what I say?

I love to see children
all cross and forceful.

Especially you, the daintiest morsel.

Come, little mousey,
come into my housey.

Into the cave of Aladdin...
a place a child could go mad in.

There are apple tarts
and meringues like snow.

Chocolate mousse, black forest gateau.

There's butter, milk and the cream
that's so good in your favorite...

Yes I know, it's rice pudding!

There's creamy Swiss-roll here.
And mountains of profiterole here.

And all as a treat for you to eat!

I won't stay here. It's all just a lie.

Just say no to strangers.

How sly!

I'm trying so hard to be nice.

You'll find that my house
is a paradise.

Come, little mousey.
Come into my housey.

You'll be petted and pampered.
None of your games will be hampered.

What will my brother have to do?

We two will feed him and fatten him.

His scrawny limbs,
we'll tenderly nourish.

His milk-fed body will flourish.

And when he's plump
and fast asleep...

...and docile and obedient,
like a sheep...

...then, Hansel, let me speak in your ear.

Your moment of greatest glory... here.

Speak out loud and not in my ear.

How does this so-called glory appear?

Just remember...

...when it is near, you shut your eyes
and forget what you hear.

I use both my ears and my eyes...
then I can tell that you're telling lies.

All that she says is a trick.
Now, run away! For God's sake, be quick!


Hocus-pocus, witch's ground...

...makes the victim muscle-bound.

Stand stock still. Obey the witch...

...when she points her hazel switch.

Like a stone, don't even twitch!

Child, obey, or you are dead.

Face the front, march straight ahead... the plate where you'll be fed.

You're the sensible one.

Hansel has some weight to put on.

We'll feed him up. I know the diet.

All cream and sugar.
That should keep him quiet.

I'll need some herbs.
I know where they grow.

You can't move at you know.

When she speaks,
my blood turns to ice.

Gretel, don't raise your voice.

Be on your guard and try to see
exactly what her plan seems to be.

Pretend to help her with a will.

I think she's coming back!


Look here, you dunce,
and show me your tongue at once.

Eat, birdie, or you'll die... a gristly meat pie.

Hocus-pocus elder bush!

Free those toes I've frozen, hush!

My precious, dainty beauty,
high time you did your domestic duty.

Off you go then, nimble maid.

Let us see that table laid.

Cutlery, crockery, cruet, carving knife...

...and a napkin for a starving wife...

I like things in my kitchen just so.

If not, on the plate
with your brother you go!

The helpless booby sleeps like a lamb.

He sleeps as only children can.

When you've grown plump
as lambkins should...

...then you'll be put to sleep for good!

In the meantime, you're too thin.
With you, my precious, I'll begin.

Girls are sweeter, eaten young... to melt a witch's tongue.

The dough is made.

It's time to set her braising.
Quick, while the coals in the fire are blazing!

Gretel dear,
you'll fit the fish-kettle, dear.

My, how sly!

Darling, you've not had your bun yet.

Look in and see if it's done yet.

When she bends down, wham!
Shut the door....

Then when I've basted her
and tasted her...!

The rump and the ribs and the brisket
emerge as a gingerbread biscuit.

My magic oven makes flesh
into gingerbread cakes.

You lazy oaf. Be off, you sloth.

When up I spring, the bat takes wing.
The hell-cat sings, the death-knell rings.

My tongue's on heat to taste the sweet
and melting treat of children's meat.

With five and six, the witch will mix.
With seven and eight, you lick the plate.

Nine is one and ten is none.

So much is nil by witch's will.

She'll dance until the night is through.

Now wake up, it's time to eat.
Show me your tongue, my sweet.

Stuff your tummy!

Now my poor little booby-head,
show me your finger instead.

Look at that! A pin!

Like a matchstick, so thin!

Booby, you're all flesh and bone.
Why don't you get fed at home?

Hansel simply must eat some more.

Bring some nuts, they're in the store.

Here are some almonds.

Hocus-pocus, elder bush... those toes she's frozen, hush!

What did you say, my little goose?

I said, "Eat up now,
there's no excuse."

Oh, what a darling!
You have some, too, my starling.

Eat, birdie, or you'll die... a gristly meat pie.

Spin a line. Play for time!

My precious little daughter,
my mouth begins to water!

Come, Gretel dear, little petal dear.

Goodness, you've not had your bun yet.
Look in and see if it's done yet.

You just bend down, pet.
See if they're brown yet.

Have a good long look.
See if they're cooked.

Don't succumb. Act you're dumb!

Don't know how to cook,
don't know where to look.

Open that door there,
down by the floor there.

Bend down and try, easy as pie.

Suck your thumb...

...brain's gone numb!

Please don't be cross, I'm at a loss.
You'll have to show me.

I always learn very slowly.

Bend down and try,
easy as pie!

When she bends down, wham!
Shut the door, slam!

Then when I've basted her
and tasted her....

The witch will soon be dead,
burned to bread.

We're out of dread.

Teach her to boast and brag!

Roast the hag! Toast the scrawny scrag.

We foiled her on our own.

Broil the crone! Boil her down to bone!

Let us dance to see
flames leap in ecstasy.

Lick round the spittle witch!
Quick brown the victual witch!

The dead arise...

...but cannot see.

They live again, but with blinded eyes.

Can we help you?

We long to set you free.

One tender touch...

...will give us back our sight.

It scares me too much...

...the helpless mites.

One touch will fill
their eyes with delight.

Oh, set me free.

I long for eyes that see.

Hocus-pocus elder bush!
Free those toes she's frozen, hush!

The light! The light!

Give thanks for sight!

The witch is dead! The witch who fed
on noses and toes she had baked into bread!

Safe from harm, join arm in arm
and dance away her evil charm.

So dance and swing
the prancing ring...

...till every living thing
shall spring for joy... greet each rescued girl and boy.

The angels showed in a dream
they'd look after us.

Let their reward be a stream
of children's laughter.

You angels who guard us
with all your might by day and night...

...let us give you thanks for strength to fight...

...for light and the glorious gift of sight.

Would that we knew
where our children were.

Look, they are over there!

They're both safe and sound,
despite our fears.

See the witch bewitched for good,
burnt to crisp, she's ditched for good!

Now she's dead! Where's her head?

Baked into a loaf of bread.

Life is hard, but not all black.
God will pay the wicked back.

When a child cries out in fear,
someone, somewhere surely has got to hear.

For when in need or dark despair...

...surely God will hear your prayer.

When in need or dark despair...

...surely God will hear your prayer.