Romantic elfin opera in three acts

Composer Carl Maria von Weber · Libretto by James Robinson Planché, translated into German by Theodor Hell
In German with English and German surtitles | New Production

Munich Opera Festival
Sunday, 30. July 2017
06:00 pm – 09:20 pm

Duration est. 3 hours 20 minutes · 1. Aufzug (est. 06:00 pm - 07:25 pm ) · Interval (est. 07:25 pm - 08:00 pm ) · 2.+3. Aufzug (est. 08:00 pm - 09:20 pm )

Introductory Event: 05:00 PM

Prices PB , € 132 /- /- /- /-

Premiere at 21. July 2017

This performance will be broadcasted live via the internet as part of Staatsoper.TV.

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Musikalische Leitung
Ivor Bolton
Nikolaus Habjan
Jakob Brossmann
Denise Heschl
Michael Bauer
Sören Eckhoff
Rainer Karlitschek

Julian Prégardien
Titania (Puck)
Alyona Abramowa
Annette Dasch
Hüon von Bordeaux
Brenden Gunnell
Rachael Wilson
Johannes Kammler
Anna El-Khashem
Die drei Pucks
Manuela Linshalm, Daniel Frantisek Kamen, Sebastian Mock
  • Bayerisches Staatsorchester
  • Chorus of the Bayerische Staatsoper
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The plot of Carl Maria von Weber's romantic elfin opera, first performed at London's Covent Garden in 1826, is quite startling. When Oberon, King of the Fairies quarrels with his queen Titania, it is the humans, of all creatures, who are called upon to solve the problem. Titania will only consider reconciliation, on the condition that a human couple affirm their love within a life or death scenario. Oberon's servant Puck already has somebody in mind – the crusader Hüon of Bordeaux, who is in love with Rezia, daughter of the Calif. 

Their love, a European-Arabian union, is however threatened by perils of a cultural nature. Rezia twice faces being forced into marriage, as well as being kidnapped by pirates and sold in a slave market. Even courageous Hüon cannot confront these dangers in his own strength. In their direst need, Oberon's magic horn comes to the two lovers' aid, even tearing them from the clutches of death. Titania seems unbothered by this intervention. She appears at the end of the opera happily reconciled at the side of her king Oberon – two dei ex machina who demonstrate that the world of fantasy is tightly intertwined with the real world - regardless of any cultural barriers.


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Part One

Oberon has quarrelled with his wife, Titania. They are of different opinions when it comes to the question of whether there really is such a thing as love which is also absolutely constant. Oberon firmly upholds the ideal, in which Titania no longer believes. For some time now, Oberon, assisted by the three pucks, has been observing people, and their ability to love, in a large-scale experiment – with little success so far. There are, however, still four more people prepared to allow themselves to be tested in the experiment as ordered by Oberon. These are Rezia, Fatime, Hüon and Scherasmin. They are treated with magic substances and meet the three pucks, who use dolls in order to simulate various possible situations. The whole thing promises to become a grand adventure.

Hüon of Bordeaux has fallen out of favour with Charlemagne. Only if he succeeds in marrying the daughter of the Caliph of Baghdad and killing him who sits on the caliph’s right hand will the emperor forgive him. Hüon, who has seen Rezia in a dream, is immediately willing to accept the challenge together with his squire, Scherasmin.

Oberon gives Hüon a magic horn with which he can call for help in any situation and a goblet which always fills with wine of its own accord.

Outside the gates of Baghdad, Hüon and Scherasmin come across an old woman called Namuna, who tells them of Rezia’s impending marriage to Prince Babekan. Rezia wants to defy her father for his choice of partner for her, as she herself has dreamed of an unknown knight who wants to marry her. And indeed, Hüon and Scherasmin succeed in gaining entrance to the palace and preventing the wedding ceremony. Rezia and Hüon immediately recognize each other from their dreams and want to flee with their servants Fatime and Scherasmin. Hüon kills the caliph and Babekan, who is sitting on the caliph’s right. With the help of the magic horn, the sound of which causes all their opponents to freeze, they manage to escape from the heavily-guarded palace. In spite of their different backgrounds, mutual trust develops between Fatime and Scherasmin and they hope to marry. All four want to board ship immediately and return to Europe.

Titania does not trust this quick result and insists that the experiment should be extended. She also wants to test the degree of constancy in the love of the two couples who have come together. To this end she creates a severe storm in which the ship is wrecked.

Part Two

Rezia and Hüon find each other again on a lonely island and believe that their servants have been drowned. Hüon, worried about Rezia’s health, wants to go and seek help, as he believes that the magic horn has also been lost in the storm and is only able to still Rezia’s thirst with the help of Oberon’s goblet. Rezia tries to accept her fate.  But pirates discover Rezia and kidnap her. Hüon is overpowered and beaten unconscious.

Oberon is delighted with everything he has seen and himself falls into an ecstatic state. He wants to make the participants in the experiment believe that they are in Tunis in the hands of the governor Almansor.

Scherasmin and Fatime find it hard to accept their fate - working as slaves in Almansor’s garden. All that binds them together is the memory of better times in the past. Hüon, on the other hand, is not discouraged. He plans to free Rezia as soon as possible from the hands of Almansor. The latter’s former favourite wife, Roshana, wants, with the help of Hüon, to take revenge on her husband, who now only has eyes for Rezia. She does not, however, see that Hüon merely considers her to be a means to an end. Almansor woos Rezia and threatens her with death if she resists him. But Rezia would rather die than be unfaithful to her lover. The idea of an abduction is nipped in the bud before it is fully matured. Rezia and Hüon are condemned to death at the stake by Almansor – Scherasmin and Fatime as well.

The three pucks notice that the experiment is getting out of control. May one play with death? They have long since missed the chance of getting out of the situation in a sensible way.

The execution can only be prevented with the help of the magic horn, which Scherasmin discovers.The flight is successful and the four return to the court of the Emperor Charlemagne, who forgives Hüon and praises him as a great and stalwart hero.

The pucks, however, only manage to release two of the participants from the experiment: Fatime and Scherasmin. Hüon and Rezia remain in the world of the experiment – united in their love and constancy.

Has Oberon been proved right?

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Ivor Bolton studierte am Royal College of Music und am National Opera Studio in London. Anschließend war er musikalischer Leiter der English Touring Opera, der Glyndebourne Touring Opera und des Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Derzeit ist er musikalischer Leiter des Dresdner Festspielorchesters, seit 2015 außerdem des Teatro Real in Madrid und seit 2016 Chefdirigent des Sinfonieorchesters Basel. Regelmäßig ist er zu Gast beim Maggio Musicale Fiorentino und an der Opéra national de Paris. Weitere Opernengagements führten ihn u. a. an das Royal Opera House Covent Garden und die English National Opera in London sowie nach Bologna, Brüssel, Amsterdam, Lissabon, Sydney, Berlin, Hamburg und Genua. Von 2004 bis 2016 war er Chefdirigent des Mozarteum-Orchesters Salzburg, dem er nunmehr als Ehrendirigent verbunden ist. Dirigate an der Bayerischen Staatsoper 2020/21: Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Le nozze di Figaro. (Stand: 2021)

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