Schwanda, der Dudelsackpfeifer
Opera in two acts (five scenes)
Libretto by Miloš Kareš
German by Max Brod
Suitable for ages 16 and over
Oh, the joys of married life! But the conjugal relations between the bagpiper Švanda and his wife Dorotka are something else – all the more so once the robber chief Babinský appears on the scene, leading the husband to all kinds of adventures and the wife to infidelity. An encounter with a lovestruck Ice Queen, an execution stopped at the last moment and even a descent into Hell promise entertainment with an underlying message. Jaromír Weinberger’s opera Švanda dudák received its premiere in Prague in 1927 and became known in the German-speaking world in a translation by Max Brod. However, the National Socialists put an abrupt end not only to the run of success the work was enjoying, but to Weinberger’s entire career as well. In recent years, at least his popular opera Schwanda, der Dudelsackpfeifer, with its mixture of Bohemian folk music and late Romanticism, has made a successful comeback on the stage. With this work, Tobias Kratzer returns to Vienna and explores not just the colourful surface, but more particularly the dark secrets found by depth psychology in this fairy-tale world for adults.
In German with German and English surtitles
Introduction to the work 30 minutes before curtain-up
Arnold Schoenberg Chor
(Leitung: Erwin Ortner)
The notorious robber Babinsky is being hunted by two lansquenets and is hiding on the farm of the bagpiper Schwanda and his wife Dorota. He persuades Schwanda to join him on an adventure: to rescue an enchanted queen. The two men set off without telling Dorota where they are going.
The Ice Queen’s heart is frozen after a sorcerer who ascended from hell put a spell on it. Schwanda plays for a dance at her court and the festivities really do warm the Queen’s heart. But when Dorota appears in search of her husband and makes a scene in front of him, the Queen’s heart immediately freezes again. The Queen, in love with Schwanda and extremely jealous, sentences the bagpiper to death by beheading. But at the place of execution he is rescued at the last moment by Babinsky. To calm Dorota down, Schwanda swears that he will go straight to hell if he has given the Queen so much as a kiss. Hell promptly opens and swallows him up.
The Devil, bored, asks Schwanda to play him something on his bagpipes. When Schwanda refuses, the Devil comes up with a trick: He promises that Schwanda can have Dorota if he makes a deal with hell. No sooner has Schwanda signed the contract than Dorota, whom the Devil has conjured up, disappears again and Schwanda must allow himself to be tortured in accordance with the deal he has struck. He is rescued from this situation by Babinsky who beats the Devil in a card game, thereby freeing Schwanda.
Schwanda and Babinsky return to the farm. The sight of Dorota convinces the bagpiper that it is finally time to settle down, while Babinsky departs.
We would like to point out that sexual content is depicted in this production of Schwanda, der Dudelsackpfeifer. These depictions are simulated and have been realised with the utmost respect as well as with the professional support of an intimacy coordinator.
Intimacy Coordinator: Bernadette Maria Leitner