Königskinder (The King's Children) is a stage work by Engelbert Humperdinck that exists in two versions: as a melodrama and as an opera or more precisely a Märchenoper. The libretto was written by Ernst Rosmer (pen name of Else Bernstein-Porges), adapted from her play of the same name.
In 1894, Heinrich Porges asked Humperdinck to write incidental music for his daughter Else's play. Humperdinck was interested in making the story into an opera but since Else Bernstein-Porges initially refused he opted for the play to be staged as a melodrama - that is with spoken dialog taking place along with an instrumental backdrop. (The work also included operatic arias and choruses, as well as unaccompanied dialog.)
In the melodramatic passages, Humperdinck designed an innovative hybrid notation that called for a text delivery somewhere between singing and speech. With this notation, the singer was expected to deliver a substantial portion of the text with approximate pitched melodies.
This version was first staged at the Munich Hoftheater, with Hedwig Schako as the goose girl, on 23 January 1897 and enjoyed some success. However, Else Bernstein-Porges finally relented in 1907 and agreed that Humperdinck could transform the work into an opera.
Königskinder was first performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York on 28 December 1910, conducted by Alfred Hertz, with Geraldine Farrar as the Goose-Girl, Herman Jadlowker as the King's Son, Louise Homer as the Witch and Otto Goritz as the Fiddler. A Berlin premiere followed on 14 January 1911, conducted by Leo Blech with Lola Artôt de Padilla as the Goose-Girl and Walter Kirchhoff as the King's Son. Though the work lies in the shadow of Hänsel und Gretel, with which it shares a spirit, it is revived occasionally and has been recorded with strong casts several times. It was produced at the 1986 Wexford Festival, in 1997 at Sarasota Opera, in 2005 - 2007 at the Bayerische Staatsoper, and in 2007 at the Zurich Opera House. In 2010, Dell'arte Opera Ensemble gave a performance celebrating the hundredth anniversary of its premiere in New York City.
- 1952: Möller-Siepermann/Ihme-Säbich/Anders/Fischer-Dieskau, Orchester des Westdeutschen Rundfunks conducted by Richard Kraus, live in Cologne, Walhall
- 1976: Donath/Schwarz/Dallapozza/Prey, Münchner Rundfunkorchester conducted by Heinz Wallberg, EMI
- 1996: Schellenberger/Schmiege/Moser-T/Henschel, Münchner Rundfunkorchester conducted by Fabio Luisi, Calig
- 2005: Sala/Gubisch/Kaufmann/Roth, Orchestre National de Montpelier conducted by Armin Jordan, live in Montpellier, Accord
- 2007: Rey/Nikiteanu/Kaufmann/Widmer, Opernhaus Zürich conducted by Ingo Metzmacher, video from Zurich, Encore
- 2008: Banse/Schnaut/Vogt/Gerhaher, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester, Berlin conducted by Ingo Metzmacher, live in Berlin, Premiere Opera