Die tote Stadt

The boundary between dream and reality increasingly dissolves as Paul, mourning his dead wife Marie, meets the dancer Marietta. With her looks so similar to Marie’s, Marietta becomes the object of the projection of Paul’s erotic desires. His grief has the traits of a ritual: The carefully composed strands of his dead wife’s hair are guarded like a relic. Following a nerve-racking “vision” with cathartic effect, Paul is finally reeled back to reality. He can leave the Belgian city of Bruges as the place of his death cult. The original title of the piece, “Triumph des Lebens” (Triumph of Life), is symbolic of the main character’s personal development.

Just a few weeks before the immensely successful world premiere of Die tote Stadt, none other than Giacomo Puccini himself described Erich Wolfgang Korngold, only 23 at the time, as the “greatest hope of new German music”. Because of their melodic urgency, arias such as “Glück, das mir verblieb” (Marietta’s Lute Song) and “Mein Sehnen, mein Wähnen” (Pierrot’s Song) have found a home among the concert repertoires of numerous opera singers and radiate far beyond the fame of Die tote Stadt.

The premiere of Korngold’s Die tote Stadt at the Bavarian State Opera in autumn 2019 was praised by press and audience alike. Experience the Bayerisches Staatsorchester under Kirill Petrenko as well as Marlis Petersen (Marie / Marietta) and Jonas Kaufmann (Paul) in the main roles of this intensive and stirring production by Simon Stone on DVD or Blu-ray. Winner of the Gramophone Music Awards in the categories Opera and Recordings of the Year:


Photo credit: Wilfried Hösl