Jeanne d'Arc - Scenes from the Life of St Joan

Calling, Triumph and Passion

Walter Braunfels (1882 – 1954)

Poetic rendition based on documents from the trial; text and music by Walter Braunfels; premiere on 27th April 2008 at the Deutsche Oper Berlin

In German language with German surtitles

open

Cast

close

Cast

Conductor Matthias Foremny
Idea, Conception Christoph Schlingensief
Production-Team, based on the conception by Christoph Schlingensief Carl Hegemann
Anna-Sophie Mahler
Søren Schuhmacher
Stage design Thomas Goerge
Thekla von Mülheim
Costume design Aino Laberenz
Costume- & stage-design Bernd Damovsky
Video Kathrin Krottenthaler
Video Assistant Konstantin Hapke
Chorus-Conductor William Spaulding
Childrens Chorus Christian Lindhorst
St. Michael Paul McNamara
St. Catharina Kim-Lillian Strebel
St. Margarete Annie Rosen
Charles of Valois, King Clemens Bieber
Archbishop of Reims James J. Kee
Cauchon, bishop of Beauvais Peter Maus
Vicar Inquisitor ZhengZhong Zhou
Jeanne d'Arc Mary Mills
Jacobus of Arc Tobias Kehrer
Colin Paul Kaufmann
Gilles de Rais Simon Neal
Duke of Trémouille Lenus Carlson
Duke of Alencon Jörg Schörner
Chevalier Baudricourt Seth Carico
Lison Rachel Hauge
Bertrand de Poulengy Yosep Kang
Florent d'Illiers James J. Kee
page Paula Marzejon
Salisbury James J. Kee
archpriest Birgit Köhne
Dancer Marcos Abranches
Chorus Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Kinderchor der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Orchestra Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin
open

Information

close

Information

Walter Braunfels’ opera was written between 1938 and 1942, years that the composer – ostracised and prevented from exercising his profession by the Nazis – spent in 'inner emigration' in Überlingen on the shores of Lake Constance. Following his experiences on the front during World War I he converted from Protestantism to Catholicism and henceforth his faith played a pivotal role in his compositions. The publication in German of the documents relating to the trial of Jeanne d'Arc, whose suffering he related directly to his own fate, spurred him to compose an opera, whose libretto he also penned.

Schlingensief’s version of the Jeanne d’Arc opera is at once a reduction and an extension. Joan is not simply the virginal warrior in man's clothing who hears the voices of saints, helps her motherland triumph over English occupation and is later burnt at the stake as a witch and heretic. She is also a human being who lives and loves, who works, suffers and dies. Braunfels puts at her side Gilles de Rais and has the Maid confront the later child molester and murderer. The line between good and evil is a fine one: the characters' actions are motivated not by redemption and the certainty of salvation but by uncertainty. The signs are that she has but one future awaiting her, even if it is an uncertain one. Gilles' cry of “Satan, you have triumphed!” comes up against the opposing miracle: “Joan's heart was not consumed in the flames!” Walter Braunfels’ opera is a passion of ambiguity.

On a trip to Nepal Christoph Schlingensief witnessed the cremation of people according to a precise set of rituals, the burning of the body occurring in public, unquestioned and very soon after death. This experience prompted him to imbue the story of Saint Joan, which contains powerful liturgical elements, with a similar atmosphere, presenting it as a ritualised journey of suffering from hospice to public burning of a corpse. In this way – and regardless of the extraordinary nature of her fate – her life and death are not so very far removed from that of ordinary people. The profane round of daily life and the sacral portrayal of one life in particular blend into one another.

Kindly supported by Förderkreis der Deutschen Oper Berlin e. V.
Presented by taz.die tageszeitung

open

Accompanying Programme

close

Accompanying Programme

Introduction (in German language): 45 minutes before beginning; Rang-Foyer