As Christmas approaches “Trove Thursday” turns to that traditional seasonal offering, an opera that dwells on parental neglect and juvenile cannibalism: Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel in an unusual broadcast conducted by Herbert von Karajan featuring Sena Jurinac and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf as the mischievous pair—performing in Italian! 

Everyone will be familiar with the famous EMI studio recording of Hänsel with Karajan and Schwarzkopf, but it features Elisabeth Grümmer as Hansel and is of course in German.

RAI, particularly in the 1950s, broadcast many non-Italian operas in translation and this performance is just one of those. Any chance to hear Jurinac is reason enough to share this and though I doubt she wore pants for this concert Hansel joins her other classic trouser roles Cherubino, Octavian and the Komponist, all four soprano parts by the way.

Rita Streich as both the Dew Fairy and Sandman and the great Rolando Panerai (still with us at 94!) as Peter are further icing on this holiday treat.

Jurinac was married from 1953 to 1956 to Sesto Bruscantini which may help to explain how she came to do a number of these RAI broadcasts including Agathe in Weber’s Il Franco Cacciatoreco-starring Boris Christoff

and Achsah in Handel’s Joshua; both conducted by Vittoria Gui. I also understand that Jurinac sang Strauss’s Daphne for RAI but I’ve never read that that broadcast survived.

Live recordings also exist of a Jurinac La Dama di Picche from the Florence May Festival, an excerpt of which is available here, and a Carmen (in which she sings Micaela of course) from the Teatro San Carlo in Naples…

…where she also performed Pamina in Il Flauto Magico again opposite Christoff and led by Gui.

That complete Mozart opera was posted on “Trove Thursday” earlier this year,

Humperdinck: Hänsel und Gretel (in Italian)
RAI of Milan
10 December 1954

Gretel – Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
Hänsel – Sena Jurinac
Dew Fairy & Sandman – Rita Streich
Gertrude – Bruna Ronchini
Witch – Vittoria Palombini
Peter – Rolando Panerai

Conductor – Herbert von Karajan

Hansel can be downloaded by clicking on the icon of a square with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.

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