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Opera in three acts (1971)

Music by Gottfried von Einem

Libretto by Friedrich von Dürrenmatt

In German with German surtitles

Production of Theater an der Wien

Premiere: Friday, 16 March 2018, 7 pm

Performances: 18 / 20 / 23 / 26 / 28 March 2018, 7 pm

Content

The comedy Der Besuch der alten Dame, first performed in 1956, made the playwright Friedrich Dürrenmatt world famous, especially following the 1963 film version starring Ingrid Bergmann. Gottfried von Einem had seen the play shortly after its premiere and considered it as the basis of an opera. However, it was to be ten years before he began work on it. When Dürrenmatt learned of this plan and became familiar with von Einem’s style he quickly agreed to adapt his play as a libretto himself. The hugely successful premiere took place on 23 May 1971 at the Vienna State Opera. Dürrenmatt’s parable about the amorality of an apparently decent, respectable but secretly money-loving and self-centred middle-class community is as topical in 2018 as it was when it was written. Von Einem’s intense musical portrayal of the murderous atmosphere that gradually descends around Claire’s victim, Ill the shopkeeper, the evocative use of orchestral colours and not least the part of Claire Zachanassian, a tour de force for a mezzo-soprano, made the opera one of von Einem’s most enduring successes.

As a young woman, Claire Zachanassian was made pregnant and then abandoned by Ill, the shopkeeper, in her home town of Güllen. She was driven out of the small town by the sanctimonious inhabitants, humiliated and branded a whore. Many years later, her numerous marriages have left her fabulously wealthy, and she returns to Güllen, which is now utterly decrepit and impoverished. She has an empty coffin with her: she plans to take deadly revenge on the man who seduced her so heartlessly. If Ill is murdered for her in Güllen, she will give the town a billion. Following the initial shock, the greed for money prevails and the cynical plan works. Ill is captured by the townsfolk and killed, and they receive the billion. Claire departs again with his body in the coffin as a hunting trophy.

Cast

Conductor

Michael Boder

Biography
Director

Keith Warner

Biography
Set & costume design

David Fielding

Biography
Light design

John Bishop

Biography
Claire Zachanassian

Katarina Karneus

Biography
Ihr Gatte VII

Ernst Allan Hausmann

Biography
Ihr Gatte IX

Erik Årman

Biography
Der Butler

Mark Milhofer

Biography
Alfred Ill

Russell Braun

Biography
Seine Frau

Cornelia Horak

Biography
Seine Tochter

Anna Marshania

Biography
Sein Sohn

Johannes Bamberger

Biography
Bürgermeister

Raymond Very

Biography
Prediger

Markus Butter

Biography
Lehrer

Adrian Eröd

Biography
Doktor

Martin Achrainer

Biography
Polizist

Florian Köfler

Biography
Erste Frau

Anna Gillingham

Biography
Zweite Frau

Carolina Lippo

Biography
Helmesberger

Matteo Loi

Biography
Hofbauer

Botond Odor

Biography
Orchestra

ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien

Biography
Choir

Arnold Schoenberg Chor (Ltg. Erwin Ortner)

Biography

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