Based on a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, Engelbert Humperdinck's beloved opera is traditionally often performed at Christmastime as a treat for children. Humperdinck had originally planned to write a simple work with a spoken text and folksong-like melodies. It turned out to be a full-fledged, Wagnerian-style opera that was premiered in 1893 by no less a conductor than Richard Strauss, who termed the work "a masterpiece of the first rank." For this lavish production staged and directed by August Everding, a cast of top singers has been put together, including Brigitte Fassbaender, Edita Gruberova, Hermann Prey, Helga Dernesch and Sena Jurinac. Sir Georg Solti conducts the Vienna Philharmonic.