Kirill Petrenko conducts DIE TOTE STADT

The first opera premiere of the season, Erich Wolfgang Korngold's Die tote Stadt, is under the musical direction of General Music Director Kirill Petrenko. At the premiere on 18 November, Jonas Kaufmann will make his role debut as Paul, a widower who, lost in mourning for his deceased wife, loses his footing in life and drifts back and forth between delusion and reality. At his side Marlis Petersen and Andrzej  Filończyk will sing the main parts.

Die tote Stadt: Jonas Kaufmann (Paul), Marlis Petersen (Marietta)
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Audio live stream

The premiere on 18 November will be live broadcast via BR-Klassik. The transmission starts at 18:30 with interviews.

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"The greatest hope of new German music"

Torn between memories, delusion and reality, the main character, Paul, wanders as if haunted in his inner sanctum, a prisoner in his "Temple of Memories”. The "dead city" of Bruges functions as a portrait for the site of his cult of the dead, which Paul practices as a widower compulsively in love with his deceased wife Marie. Until he suddenly meets the dancer Marietta, who resembles Marie in an astonishing way. The opera in three pictures is based on Georges Rodenbach's symbolist novel Bruges-la-Morte. Korngold wrote the libretto together with his father under the pseudonym Paul Schott. Die tote Stadt is Erich Wolfgang Korngold's most successful opera, which he began composing at the age of 20. Korngold, born 1897 in Brno, Czech Republic, was considered a child prodigy. "The greatest hope of new German music" was how Giacomo Puccini characterized the young composer a few weeks before the premiere of Die tote Stadt on December 4, 1920. As a composer of Jewish origin, Korngold had to emigrate from Vienna to Hollywood in 1934 – the place where he composed the music for more than 20 films. As one of the few opera artists he was awarded two Oscars (Anthony Adverse, 1937 and The Adventures of Robin Hood, 1939).

Between Delusion and Reality

Director Simon Stone achieved international fame as a theatre director and with opera productions of Aribert Reimann's Lear and Luigi Cherubini's Médée at the Salzburg Festival. With Die tote Stadt he realized his first opera production at the Theater Basel in 2016, which he is now revising for the Bayerische Staatsoper. The stage design, developed by Ralph Myers, reflects Paul's inner life, which has begun to falter, in the form of his apartment. Rooms shift, collapse and rearrange themselves. "For the main character, the whole piece is a confrontation with his feelings of guilt," explains Simon Stone in the portrait from the new MAX JOSEPH. "He says goodbye to his dead wife, but also to the woman he has fallen in love with. He is prepared to live alone, to really grieve."