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Opera in three acts

Composer Franz Schreker · Libretto by Franz Schreker
In German language with English and German surtitles | New Production

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Cast for all dates

Musikalische Leitung
Markus Stenz
Inszenierung
Krzysztof Warlikowski
Bühne und Kostüme
Małgorzata Szczęśniak
Licht
Felice Ross
Choreographie
Claude Bardouil
Video
Denis Guéguin
Dramaturgie
Miron Hakenbeck
Chor
Sören Eckhoff
Kinderchor
Stellario Fagone

Herzog Antoniotto Adorno
Tomasz Konieczny
Graf Andrea Vitellozzo Tamare
Christopher Maltman
Lodovico Nardi
Alastair Miles
Carlotta Nardi
Catherine Naglestad
Alviano Salvago
John Daszak
Guidobaldo Usodimare
Manuel Günther
Menaldo Negroni
Kevin Conners
Michelotto Cibo
Sean Michael Plumb
Gonsalvo Fieschi
Andrea Borghini
Julian Pinelli
Peter Lobert
Paolo Calvi
Andreas Wolf
Capitano di giustizia
Tomasz Konieczny
Ginevra Scotti
Paula Iancic
Martuccia
Heike Grötzinger
Pietro
Dean Power
Ein Jüngling
Galeano Salas
Dessen Freund
Milan Siljanov
Ein Mädchen
Selene Zanetti
1. Senator
Ulrich Reß
2. Senator
Christian Rieger
3. Senator
Kristof Klorek
Diener
Milan Siljanov
Kind
Solist/en des Tölzer Knabenchors
Ein riesiger Bürger
Milan Siljanov
Dienerin
Niamh O’Sullivan
  • Bayerisches Staatsorchester
  • Chorus of the Bayerische Staatsoper
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Physically disfigured, Alviano Salvago appears condemned to a life without love and erotic fulfilment. He devotes all his energy to creating a perfect – if artificial – world, in accordance with his vision – the island of Elysium.

Yet, this beautiful utopia has a dark side. Inspired by Alviano's maxim, "Let beauty be the bounty of the strong," the city of Genua's male elite regularly abduct young women, take them to the island and rape them. Alviano seeks to bring an end to this and make his creation available to the whole world. When Carlotta, daughter of the city governor, invites Alviano to sit for a portrait, she reawakens in him the hope of personal happiness. The encounter, however, turns out to be just as catastrophic as the opening of Elysium. Against a backdrop of the Italian Renaissance, Franz Schreker attempts to localise his complex identity as an artist and human being; reflecting human nature as it reels between the intellectual search for absolutes and instinctive desire; between feelings of omnipotence and desolation.

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Alviano Salvago has created a place that expresses his yearning for beauty – “Elysium”. Here he has invited his friends, a group of young noblemen, to give free rein to their fantasies. They indulge themselves in uninhibited orgies in underground chambers. Although they encourage Alviano to take part in these, he stays away in the belief that he fills others with horror rather than desire – his appearance is monstrously deformed.

Act One
Alviano feels guilty as he has discovered through his friends that “Elysium” is being misused. For some time they have been abducting young women to take part in their orgies. In order to put an end to these crimes, Alviano decides to donate “Elysium” to the citizens as a gift and to open it to the public. The young men are perturbed by Alviano’s announcement: they feel they must prevent their actions from being discovered. They wait impatiently for Vitelozzo Tamare, who should persuade his friend, Duke Adorno, to intervene to stop the donation. Tamare, however, has other concerns: he is infatuated with an unknown woman he has only just met. Alviano meets prominent local citizens to discuss the practical details of the donation. Their leader, the Podestà Lodovico Nardi, is accompanied by his wife and his daughter Carlotta. Tamare recognizes Carlotta as the unknown woman he has fallen in love with. He attempts to woo her but she rejects him. She appears much more interested in Alviano. The donation is postponed as it requires approval by the Duke. Pietro, the lover of Alviano’s servant Martuccia, is pressuring her to help him. He wants her to hide a young woman who is following him. What Martuccia does not know is that Pietro is the one who has arranged the abductions for Alviano’s friends, though they now suspect him of taking these women for himself. Carlotta manages to speak to Alviano alone. She shows an interest in his art works and mentions that she is an artist herself and is trying to paint people’s souls. She would like to create one of these portraits of him and asks him to model for her. At first Alviano feels she is mocking him, but when he realises how serious Carlotta is, he promises to visit her in her studio.

Act Two
Count Adorno stalls Podestà and the senators by asking for time to reflect before approving the donation. After this, he receives his friend Tamare. Tamare is tormented and humiliated by the fact that his desire for Carlotta is not reciprocated. If she continues to reject him, he plans to take her by force. Tamare then turns to the true purpose of his visit: he reveals to the Duke the secret orgies that have been taking place in “Elysium”. The Duke is outraged at these crimes. He wishes to hold Alviano, whom he regards as the initiator, to account and forbid “Elysium” to be opened to the public. He also promises Tamare that he will put in a good word for him with Carlotta. Alviano visits Carlotta’s studio. In order to complete her painting, she is attempting to capture his expression. While she does so, she reveals her secret – albeit disguised as the story of a fictional friend, who is also a painter: due to a physical ailment, she is incapable of fulfilling her erotic desires. Her fear of the deadly dangers of arousal manifests itself in her paintings. Alviano understands that Carlotta is talking about herself. Her sudden confession strikes him like a bolt from the blue. However, he overcomes his deep mistrust about her feelings and declares his own. In his eyes she sees the expression of immeasurable happiness she was so keen to find for her art work. Once she has captured this moment, she collapses in exhaustion. Alviano is filled with affection for her. But he shrinks back from his desire to touch her.

Act Three
Disregarding Adorno's warning, Alviano has opened “Elysium” to everyone. The visitors enter it with awe and amazement. They struggle to find words for the many different impressions it makes on them. Martuccia is runs straight into Pietro who reproaches her because the woman he had hidden has managed to escape. When Martuccia tells Pietro that she has seen through his crimes, he gets rid of his lover. Alviano waits impatiently for Carlotta. She avoids meeting him and lets Duke Adorno know that her feelings have changed: her love for Alviano has very quickly passed. Here in the beautiful location he has created, she is suddenly repulsed by his deformity. Adorno tries to overcome her feelings of guilt: Alviano is by no means the sensitive soul she thinks he is. While this is going on, Alviano’s noble friends overpower more women, despite the risks of being discovered. Wearing a mask, Tamare is able to get close to Carlotta. She soon senses that this person declaring his love for her is not Alviano. She has already made up her mind: the chance tonight to abandon all restraint and give way to the lust that she has repressed for so long is one she is determined to take at all costs. She follows Tamare into the underground chambers. At the point when the festivities reach their height, the moral and legal authorities step in. In the name of the Duke they accuse Alviano of kidnapping and order the immediate closure of “Elysium”. As a witness against Alviano they present Ginevra Scotti, the woman who was hidden in his house. Alviano does not defend himself; all he is concerned about is where Carlotta might be. The local citizens do not believe Alviano is guilty and silence Adorno’s subordinates. Alviano thinks he knows where Carlotta has gone and promises to lead the citizens to the women who have been abducted. At the scene of the crime Alviano finds Carlotta and Tamare. Tamare tells Alviano a painful truth: he did not kidnap and rape Carlotta, instead she gave herself to him out of desire. Alviano stabs Tamare. He approaches Carlotta tenderly, but at the sight of him she is overcome with horror and disgust. She cries out for Tamare and dies. Alviano’s realization that all the hopes he may have of love are an illusion drives him insane.

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