Adelheid Wette

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Adelheid Catharina Maria Humperdinck Wette (4 September 1858 – 9 August 1916)[1] was a German author, composer, and folklorist who is best remembered today as the librettist of her brother Engelbert Humperdinck's opera Hansel and Gretel.

Life and career[edit]

Wette was born in Siegburg, Germany, the youngest sister of the composer Engelbert Humperdinck.[2] Her parents were Gustav Humperdinck, a high school teacher, and Gertrud Hartmann Humperdinck, the daughter of a cantor.[3] Adelheid was very interested in reading folktales and writing poetry.[4] In 1881, she married Dr. Hermann Wette[5] who shared her interest in folktales and had himself written two libretti for the composer Arnold Mendelssohn.[6]

Every year, Adelheid Wette wrote a play for her children to perform at a family celebration.[7] In 1888, she wrote a version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, which Engelbert enhanced with some songs. In 1890, she wrote a version of Hansel and Gretel to be performed for her husband's birthday in May. In a letter to Engelbert in April, she asked him to compose music for five of her verses to use in the play: a cock-a-doodle-doo song (Lied); a dance song (Tanzlied); an echo song (Echolied); a forest song (Waldlied); and a lullaby (Schlummerlied). She included rhythmic suggestions for the dance song and suggested a melody of the lullaby.[8] Engelbert responded with an arrangement of songs for two voices and piano. Over the next two years, with Adelheid and Hermann Wette's assistance,[9] he expanded Hansel and Gretel into a fully-scored opera which premiered in Weimar, Germany,[10] on 23 December 1893,[11] and remains his best-known composition.

Wette's works include:

Stage works[edit]

  • Frog King (1896)[12]
  • Hansel and Gretel (libretto)
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (libretto)


  • "Abends will ich schlafen gehn" [In the Evening, I Will Go to Sleep][13]


  • Deutsches Kinderliederbuch [German Children's Songbook] (1903)[14]


  1. ^ "Adelheid Wette biography". Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  2. ^ "The Metropolitan Opera Guild" (PDF). Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  3. ^ Wette, Adelheid 1858-1916. Hänsel und Gretel Märchenspiel in drei Bildern. Guth, Karl-Maria (1. Auflage ed.). Berlin. ISBN 978-3-8430-2005-3. OCLC 968225582.
  4. ^ Fisher, Burton D. (2000-02-15). Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel. Opera Journeys Publishing. ISBN 978-1-102-00907-8.
  5. ^ "Adelheid Wette". IMDb. Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  6. ^ Glauert, Amanda (2002). "Wette [née Humperdinck], Adelheid". Grove Music Online. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.O003525. Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  7. ^ Grun, Bernard (1955). Private Lives of the Great Composers, Conductors and Musical Artistes of the World. Library Publishers.
  8. ^ "Hänsel und Gretel". Schott Music. Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  9. ^ "Adelheid Wette (Librettist)". StageAgent. Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  10. ^ "Hänsel und Gretel (Work – Engelbert Humperdinck/Adelheid Wette)". Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  11. ^ "Hansel and Gretel". University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  12. ^ Cohen, Aaron I. (1987). International Encyclopedia of Women Composers (Second edition, revised and enlarged ed.). New York. ISBN 0-9617485-2-4. OCLC 16714846.[page needed]
  13. ^ "Sammlung deutscher Gedichte 028". Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  14. ^ "Adelheid Wette — People — Royal Opera House". Retrieved 2020-09-18.