Opera in four acts

Composer Bernd Alois Zimmermann · Libretto by the Composer after the drama by Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz
In German with German surtitles

Wednesday, 28. May 2014
07:00 pm – 09:35 pm

Duration est. 2 hours 35 minutes · 1 Interval between and (est. 08:03 pm - 08:33 pm )

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Musikalische Leitung
Kirill Petrenko
Andreas Kriegenburg
Harald B. Thor
Andrea Schraad
Stefan Bolliger
Wolfram Nehls
Zenta Haerter
Sophie Leypold
Thomas Bruner
Malte Krasting

Christoph Stephinger
Barbara Hannigan
Okka von der Damerau
Wesners alte Mutter
Hanna Schwarz
Michael Nagy
Stolzius´ Mutter
Heike Grötzinger
Tareq Nazmi
Daniel Brenna
Ein junger Jäger
Steve Pucker
Kevin Conners
Christian Rieger
Tim Kuypers
Wolfgang Newerla
1. Offizier
Peter Tantsits
2. Offizier
David Sitka
3. Offizier
Dean Power
Die Gräfin de la Roche
Nicola Beller Carbone
Der junge Graf
Alexander Kaimbacher
Makoto Sakurai
1. Fähnrich
Daryl Jackson
2. Fähnrich
Steve Pucker
3. Fähnrich
Christian Prager
Madame Roux
Karin Kreitner
Der Bediente
Johannes Terne
Der junge Fähnrich
Matthias Bein
Der betrunkene Offizier
Manuel Adt
1. Hauptmann
Eric Price
2. Hauptmann
Frederic Jost
3. Hauptmann
Niklas Mallmann
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"Yesterday, today and tomorrow" is how Bernd Alois Zimmermann defined the period of activity of his opera, first performed in Cologne in 1965, based on the drama by the 'Sturm und Drang' poet Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz. Even Lenz was way ahead of the theatrical aesthetics of his time and proposed, in his theoretical essays, the dissolution of the unity of time, place and action. Zimmermann created a multimedia musical theatre in which, through the juxtaposition and interplay of a huge orchestra, stage music, jazz combo, electronics, tape deck and loudspeakers and using the media of film projection and simultaneous stages, levels of action overlap and individual fates are reflected in a broader panorama of destruction, violation, suicide and murder.

The bourgeois girl Marie Wesener moves from admirer to admirer, all from the ranks of the officers and soldiers until she gains a reputation for flightiness and becomes fair game for male lust. She ends as a whore and beggar. Her decline culminates in horrific visions of a brutalisation of mankind that spans centuries, in the apocalyptic picture of an endless spiral of constantly repeated compulsions and acts of violence by mankind against others and itself.


The story
In the words of the composer

Marie, the daughter of the luxury goods merchant, Wesener, is engaged to be married to the cloth merchant, Stolzius. Baron Desportes, a young officer in the service of the French, courts this girl of the middle-classes and succeeds in winning Marie’s favour.  Wesener’s  hopes for social advancement are near to his daughter’s heart, yet she is nonetheless overcome by worrying premonitions of what lies ahead of her. The officers – friends of Desportes – invite Stolzius, who supplies the regiment with cloth, to their coffee-house where, in a rude and offensive manner, they enlighten Stolzius as to the existing relationship between Desportes and Marie.  The disappointed Stolzius writes a letter to Marie, who is in turn also disappointed, thus prompting her to open her heart to Desportes’ approaches.  Meanwhile, the officers continue to amuse themselves in their own way, while the Army Chaplain Eisenhardt and Captain Pirzel – who, due to the dullness of military service, has become somehow strange and is thus the target of much mockery from his comrades - unsuccessfully attempt to lead the unscrupulous, corrupt and boundlessly hedonistic regiment.  When Desportes tires of Marie, he passes on the abandoned woman to his friends. Stolzius enters the regiment so that he may observe what has happened to Marie. He becomes the serving boy of Desportes’ friend. Horror-stricken and saddened, he must watch Marie as she gradually becomes, in the words of his outraged mother, a so-called “soldier’s whore”. When the son of the Countess de la Roche also falls in love with Marie, the Countess takes the girl into her home so as to save her from the unwanted attentions of the officers and, at the same time, to protect her son from foolishness. Yet Marie tries again and again to contact Desportes. He finally succeeds in getting rid of her by luring her, at an agreed meeting place, into the hands of his hunter. Disgraced and broken, she takes to the street, while the Countess, her father and her family search for her in vain. Stolzius wreaks revenge for his fiancée by poisoning Desportes – and he himself dies of the poison. One day, a beggar girl approaches Wesener. Wesener does not recognize his daughter.

Bernd Alois Zimmermann

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Kirill Petrenko was born in Omsk in 1972 where he studied piano at the College of Music. At the age of eleven he gave his first public performance as a pianist with the Omsk Symphony Orchestra. In 1990 his family (his father a violinist and his mother a musicologist) relocated to Vorarlberg where his father worked as an orchestra musician and music teacher. Petrenko first continued his studies in Feldkirch before moving to Vienna to study conducting at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts. 

His first job after graduation took him directly to the Vienna Volksoper where he was hired by Nikolaus Bachler as Kapellmeister. From 1999 until 2002 Kirill Petrenko was General Music Director at the Meininger Theater. It was in 2001 in his role as conductor of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, in the production by Christine Mielitz and with scenery by Alfred Hrdlicka, that he first achieved international acclaim. In 2002 Kirill Petrenko became General Music Director of the Komische Oper Berlin where, until 2007, he was credited with a series of highly significant productions.

During his time in Meiningen and Berlin his international career also began to flourish. In 2000 Kirill Petrenko made his debut at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, in 2001 at the Vienna Staatsoper and the Dresden Semperoper, in 2003 at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, the Opéra National de Paris, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, the Bayerische Staatsoper, the New York Metropolitan Opera and in 2005 at the Oper Frankfurt. In Lyon, in collaboration with Peter Stein, he conducted all three Pushkin-inspired operas by Tchaikovsky (Mazeppa, Eugene Onegin and Pique Dame) from 2006 until 2008, which were also performed as a cycle in early 2010.

After moving on from the Komische Oper Berlin Kirill Petrenko worked as a freelance conductor. During this period his projects included conducting a new production of Leoš Janáček's Jenůfa (Production: Barbara Frey) at the Bayerische Staatsoper in 2009. In Frankfurt he conducted Pfitzner's Palestrina (Production: Harry Kupfer) and Puccini's Tosca (Production: Andreas Kriegenburg). In 2011 he worked on two new productions of Tristan and Isolde at the Opéra National de Lyon and at the Ruhrtriennale.

To date, the most important orchestras Kirill Petrenko has been invited to conduct include the Berlin Philharmonic, the Dresden Staatskapelle, the BR Symphony Orchestra, the Bayerische Staatsorchester, the WDR Cologne Symphony Orchestra, the Hamburg Philharmonic and the NDR Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, the Frankfurt Opern- und Museumsorchester, the Amsterdam Concertgebouworkest, the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Vienna Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Rome, the RAI National Symphony Orchestra in Turin and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Kirill Petrenko has also conducted concerts at the Bregenz and Salzburg Festivals. From 2013 to 2015 he swung his baton for the new production of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen during the Bayreuth Festival.

Since September 2013 Kirill Petrenko has been General Music Director at the Bayerische Staatsoper. He will be working in this position until the end of the 2019/20 season. Since 2013, he has taken to the rostrum for premieres of Die Frau ohne SchattenLa clemenza di TitoDie SoldatenLucia di Lammermoor, Lulu, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsenk District and Tannhäuser as well as the world premiere of Miroslav Srnka’s South Pole and a revival of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen among other works. In June 2015, Kirill Petrenko was named future Chief Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, starting this position in autumn 2019.

In the current season at the Bayerische Staatsoper Kirill Petrenko led an new production of Puccini’s Il trittico, next up is a new production of Wagner's Parsifal opening the Munich Opera Festival. Furthermore, Kirill Petrenko conducts revivals of Der Rosenkavalier and three complete Ring-cycles, as well as three Academy Concerts with the Bayerische Staatsorchester.

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