In this fairy tale, the villain is not a witch, but mankind. Engelbert Humperdinck’s Königskinder is a tragic story about a goose girl and a prince who fall in love. Together, they overcome magical obstacles and their own prejudices, but are misunderstood and rejected by the harsh society they live in.
A heartbreaking fairy-tale opera
Composer Engelbert Humperdinck is best known for his much-loved Hänsel und Gretel: a fairy-tale opera with a classic happily-ever-after ending, which stands in sharp contrast to Königskinder (1910). In Königskinder, the goose girl and the prince discover that a person’s true worth is measured by how they treat others and the world in general – that what truly matters is on the inside. This insight makes them ideal leaders, especially for one particular village that is desperately seeking a new ruler. The villagers, however, fail to see this potential in the young couple. Only in death do the two ‘royal children’ eventually find their kingdom.
Marc Albrecht returns to Dutch National Opera
This production sees Marc Albrecht, chief conductor of Dutch National Opera from 2011 to 2020 and winner of the Opera Award for ‘Best Conductor’ in 2019, return to Amsterdam. His past collaboration with the orchestra gave rise to countless legendary interpretations of operas by Wagner, Strauss, Zemlinsky and Schreker. Königskinder, a rich, multifaceted opera from the late Romantic era, gives both Albrecht and the orchestra an additional opportunity to showcase their wide-ranging grasp of this repertoire.
After collaborating on a highly acclaimed Tannhäuser at DNO, Albrecht once again joins forces with director Christof Loy. With his ability to dig deep and strong musical directing style, Loy is an audience favourite in Amsterdam – as well as a two-time winner of the Prix d’Amis, awarded by the Friends of Dutch National Opera. For this production, Loy draws inspiration from Michael Haneke’s film The White Ribbon, creating a dark and ominous setting for a story that never gets old: the inherent cruelty of mankind at the expense of the individual.
Fairy-tale opera in three acts - sung in German
Libretto Ernst Rosmer (Elsa Bernstein-Porges)
Musical direction Marc Albrecht
Stage direction Christof Loy
Set design Johannes Leiacker
Costume design Barbara Drosihn
Lighting design Olaf Winter
Dramaturgy Klaus Bertisch
Der Königssohn Daniel Behle
Die Gänsemagd Olga Kulchynska
Der Spielmann Josef Wagner
Die Hexe Doris Soffel
Der Holzhacker Sam Carl
Der Besenbinder Michael Pflumm
Der Ratsälteste Henk Poort
Der Wirt Roger Smeets
Der Wirtstochter Kai Rüütel
Der Schneider Lucas van Lierop
Die Stallmagd Eva Kroon
Orchestra Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra
Chorus Chorus of Dutch National Opera
Chorusmaster Edward Ananian-Cooper
Nieuw Amsterdams Kinderkoor (part of Nieuw Vocaal Amsterdam)
Rehearsals children’s chorus Anaïs de la Morandais