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Photo: Suzanne Schwiertz
Opernhaus Zürich 2005 (FP), Michael Sturminger dir.

Gruber, HK

Der Herr Nordwind (2003-05)

Duration: 120 minutes
opera in 2 parts

Libretto by HC Artmann (G)

Main roles: S,2M,2T,Bar; Minor roles: hT,B,actor,male quartet(2T,Bar,B),children's trio(S,M,A),4actors 2(II=picc).2(II=corA).2(II=bcl).asax(=ssax).tsax(=ssax).2(II=dbn)- kit/glsp/marimba-harp-pft-strings (minimum
Abbreviations (PDF)

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.

World Premiere
Opernhaus, Zürich
Michael Sturminger, director
Conductor: HK Gruber
Company: Opernhaus Zürich


GEPPONE, a poor farmertenor
ANNA, his wifesoprano
DER HERR NORDWIND, the North Windbaritone
HOLLA, his wife, goddess of the Northmezzo soprano
PRIOR of the monasterymezzo soprano
HOUSEKEEPER at the monasterytenor
KAPLAN, a poor priesthigh tenor
The local bourgeoisiemale quartet (2T,Bar,B)
Geppone and Anna's three childrenchildren's trio (S,M,A)
Baseball players4 actors

Geppone, a poor farmer, struggles with his wife Anna to make a living but every year his crops are destroyed by the fierce blowing of Mr North Wind. He decides to journey to Mr North Wind’s icy castle, where he is received by his wife Holla and offered a bed for the night. In the morning Mr North Wind returns in a stormy temper. Geppone asks him to stop blowing as his family is hungry, but Mr North Wind refuses because he was given his job by God. Instead he presents to Geppone a magic silver box which, when opened, will provide him with the food he craves. Geppone promises that he and his wife will never tell anyone the secret. He walks home and the silver box conjures up all the food his family can eat. The cook from the local monastery calls by and asks where the delicious food came from. Anna reveals the secret, and the Prior in charge of the monastery demands that Geppone hands over the box if he doesn’t want to be condemned to eternal damnation. Geppone sadly gives it up and makes a second journey to Mr North Wind who is furious that the box has been lost. He blows Geppone back home with a gold box. Again the Prior extorts the box and plans a mighty feast for the bishop and the local bourgeoisie. But when the box is opened a group of baseball players jump out and set about beating the guests. The cook fetches Geppone who succeeds in closing the box and the sporting thugs immediately disappear. Mr North Wind and Holla arrive and with a mighty gust society vanishes, leaving Geppone and his family wondering where life will blow them next.

Press Quotes
Der Herr Nordwind is a raucous, witty hit. You are allowed to laugh. And you will. The opera, written with Viennese poet HC Artmann, is wildly entertaining. It’s also complex, original and satisfying…  [It] is a rare thing indeed, a new comic opera which is both truly new and truly comical. Unlike so many world premieres, this is a work that has every chance of entering the repertoire. We will certainly hear more of it.”

“Anyone who feels inclined can read very contemporary issues into Gruber’s opera, also in relation to the exaggerated, cabaret-style characterisation of the powermongers, here in the shape of a particularly rotten church brotherhood … Together with Gruber’s typically passionate musical manner, HC Artmann’s creative language and speech ultimately turn into a rich, lively music theatre piece where speech sound, vocal quality and brass-rich orchestration combine beautifully…”
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“What you hear is remarkably multi-dimensional music. When Gruber turns to musical realism and allows the wind to blow, he does so with an imaginative orchestration. Tonal elements rub shoulder with complex clusters, the whole is held together by way of a gripping dramaturgy…”
Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Comic, Dramatic, Poetic

Magic/Mystery, Mythology, Society

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