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Photo: B&H archive
Bielefeld 1990

Wellesz, Egon

Die Bakchantinnen (1928-29)

(The Bakchantines)
Duration: 120 minutes
Opera in two acts

Libretto by the composer after the play by Euripides (G)

2dramS,lyrS,dramT,lyrBar,characterBar,2B; chorus 3(III=picc).2.corA.2.bcl.2.dbn- On-stage:3tpt.3trbn-perc:SD.
Abbreviations (PDF).

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

World Premiere
Company: Unknown


DIONYSUSCharacter Bass
TEIRESIAS, the seer Bass
CADMUS, the old king of Thebes Bass
QUEEN AGAVEDramatic Soprano
INO and PANTHEA, Cadmus's daughters Dramatic Soprano, Lyric Soprano
PENTHEUS, Agave's son Dramatic Tenor
The Eastern maenads, The retinue of Dionysus, Pentheus's warriors, Theban women as bacchantes, Thebans

Time and Place
Near Thebes at the grave of Semele; inside the King’s palace; a forest ravine on Mount Kitharon. The distant mythological past.


Dionysus, son of Zeus, king of the gods and Semele, a mortal, has come to Thebes with his retinue to establish the Dionysian cult which has been banned by Theseus, king of Thebes. First and foremost, Dionysus wants to revenge his mother who, spurred on by her sister Agave, Pentheseus´ mother, demanded Zeus to appear in his real form of a god, which lead to her death. – Pentheseus, returning home from a campaign, does not believe the seer Teiresias who reveals to him that the god is approaching, and orders the women who are already devotees and Bacchanalia celebrants to be locked up. Even when Dionysus appears in the king´s palace and gives proof of his power, Pentheus remains unimpressed. Believing that he can expose the stranger as a demagogue, he steals away at night to Mount Kitharon, where he is hunted to death by the frenzied women of Thebes and his own mother. When Agave comes to her senses and realises that the god has used her to take his revenge, she collapses on her son´s dead body.

Dramatic, Tragic

Mythology, Religion

Recommended Recording

Thomas Mohr/Roberta Alexander/Hans Aschenbach/Claudia Barainsky/Michael Burt/Harald Stamm/Michelle Breedt/Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin/Gerd Albrecht
Orfeo C136002H
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Items on Sale

BakchantinnenLibretto> Details
Bakchantinnen,Oper in zwei Akten nach Euripides,KA(Vocal Score) (French, German)> Details
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