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Besuch der alten Dame

Photo: Carol Rosegg

New York City Opera 1997, Joanne Akalaitis, dir

Einem, Gottfried von

Der Besuch der alten Dame (1968-70)

(The Visit of the Old Lady)

Duration: 130 minutes

Opera in three acts


English   Deutsch  

Libretto by Friedrich Dürrenmatt; English version by Norman Tucker (G,E,F,I)


Scoring

Major roles: M,heldT,Bar; minor roles: 2S,lyrS,M,8T,3Bar,3BBar,2B,speaker,mime; chorus; 2.picc.2.2.2-4.3.3.1-timp.perc:tamb/cyms/SD/TD/BD/tam-t/gong/tgl-gtr-strings; On-stage: 2bells,station bell,firebell

Abbreviations (PDF)


Territory

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


World Premiere
23/05/1971
Staatsoper, Wien
Otto Schenk, director
Conductor: Horst Stein
Company: Wiener Staatsoper


Roles

CLAIRE ZACHANASSIAN, multi-millionairess Mezzo-Soprano
HER HUSBAND VII Actor
HER HUSBAND IX Tenor
THE BUTLER Character Tenor
TOBY, ROBY, chewing chewing-gum Actors
KOBY, LOBY, blind Tenors
ALFRED ILL High Baritone
HIS WIFE Lyric Soprano
HIS DAUGHTER Mezzo-Soprano
HIS SON Tenor
THE MAYOR Heldentenor
THE PREACHER Bass-Baritone
THE TEACHER Baritone
THE DOCTOR Baritone
THE POLICEWOMAN Bass-Baritone
FIRST WOMAN Soprano
SECOND WOMAN Soprano
HOFBAUER, citizen Tenor
HELMESBERGER, citizen Baritone
STATION MASTER Bass-Baritone
TRAIN DRIVER Bass
CONDUCTOR Tenor
REPORTER Spoken role
CAMERAMAN Bass
A VOICE Tenor
Citizens of Güllen

Time and Place

Güllen, a small town in Central Europe, The Present


Synopsis

At the station of the dilapidated small German town of Güllen, the local officials anxiously await the arrival of one of their townsfolk who left Güllen 45 years earlier and is now returning as one of the richest individuals on earth – Claire Zachanassian. The locals are counting on her money and on the persuasiveness of her former boyfriend, Alfred Ill, now a local storekeeper, married with children, who is likely to be the next mayor. When Zachanassian turns up, she is a debilitated old woman with a mangled arm and leg from various accidents, a large entourage and a very good memory. In particular, she remembers how as Clara Wäscher she was Ill's sweetheart, and was dumped by him when pregnant for a girl from a better-off family. She ended up as a prostitute in Hamburg, where she met the first of a string of wealthy husbands (she is now on No.7). She wants revenge. She offers the townspeople a deal – she will give them a thousand million if they kill Alfred Ill. Horrified, the townspeople refuse. By the beginning of the second act, however, the customers in his shop are buying his more expensive merchandise on credit. Some are wearing expensive shoes. Even his son has bought a motor-car. Alfred reads the runes and tries to escape, but the townspeople won't let him leave. Eventually a meeting is called of all the people in the local theatre, and Zachanassian's offer is accepted. Alfred's fellow citizens kill him, and Claire, accepting the body, hands over a cheque. The citizens of Güllen dance.


Moods

Comic, Dramatic


Subjects

Contemporary, Ethics, Literary, Relationships, Society


Recommended Recording

Christa Ludwig (Claire Zachanassian), Eberhard Waechter (Alfred III), Heinz Zednik (Butler), Emmy Loose (Alfreds Frau), Hans Beirer (Bürgermeister), Hans Hotter (Lehrer) / Chor & Orchester der Wiener Staatsoper / Horst Stein (WP Vienna 1971, re-release 2018)
Orfeo C 930 182 1


Besuch der alten Dame


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