A lyrical and fantastical play in two parts - 1920

Composer Walter Braunfels. Libretto by the composer based on Aristophanes.
In German with German and English surtitles. New Production.

Premiere at 31. October 2020

It has literally come to be – the “cloud-cuckoo-land” of Aristophanes’s ancient comedy, The Birds. With unprecedented hubris the birds believe they are the Gods’ equal and can build their own powerful state, which will practically starve the Gods. How mistaken they are – at once foolhardy and ridiculously risible, with a tragic end for the rebels. The world premiere of his adaptation of the ancient material in Munich in 1920 was a huge breakthrough for composer Walter Braunfels. An enormous success, followed in Munich alone by fifty performances! His version is idiosyncratic and stand-alone – Braunfels adds a deeply romantic aspect to the piece, while remaining true to the comedy. He not only understands the new polity of the birds in political terms; he also does so artistically and lyrically. The new state’s failure is attributed to both a lust for power and a misplaced idealisation. The ancient myth is reflected in the sorrowful experiences of a world of yesterday. For Braunfels the ruins of the First World War are visible signs all around of the both political and spiritual decay – his opera is a final emphatic uprising against the fragmentation of the present. One hundred years later the work’s first new production now follows at the point of its world premiere.