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Schedule - Deutsche Oper Berlin

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Generational performance

Der Zwerg (The Dwarf)

Alexander von Zemlinsky (1871 – 1942)

17:00 - 18:30
C prices: € 108.00 / 90.00 / 64.00 / 40.00 / 26.00
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Information about the work

Opera in one act
Libretto by Georg C. Klaren, based on Oscar Wilde's „The Birthday of the Infanta“
First performed on 28th May, 1922 in Cologne
Premiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on 24th March, 2019

As a prologue
Arnold Schönberg (1874 – 1951)
Begleitungsmusik zu einer Lichtspielscene für Orchester op. 34 (1930)

1 hr 30 mins / no interval

In German language with German and English surtitles

Pre-performance lecture (in German): 45 minutes prior to each performance

recommended from 14 years
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17:00 - 18:30
C prices: € 108.00 / 90.00 / 64.00 / 40.00 / 26.00
Buy tickets
the content

It’s Princess Donna Clara’s 18th birthday and she’s getting showered with presents from all sides, but one gift in particular, from the Turkish Sultan, stands out from the crowd: a real-life dwarf! Amidst all the splendour and beauty the misshapen man attracts her special attention, charming her with his singing and fascinating her all the more for seeming to be blissfully unaware of his physical appearance. The dwarf falls madly in love with the princess and is blind to the coquettish game that she is playing. But then he comes face-to-face with his reflection for the first time in his life. Realising the truth of his situation, he falls down dead. Alexander Zemlinsky’s THE DWARF is based on Oscar Wilde’s fairy tale “The Birthday of the Infanta” and received its world premiere in 1922. Following Zemlinsky’s death in 1942 in American exile the work quickly slipped from public awareness, not to be rediscovered until the 1970s. Since then it has been drawing crowds as a subtle, vibrant seismogram of a highly complex and psychological constellation.

With THE DWARF, Alexander von Zemlinsky came to terms with his traumatic love affair with Alma Schindler, who had left him, a relatively short and outwardly unattractive man, to marry Gustav Mahler. In his production, director Tobias Kratzer has not dealt with this autobiographical background to the opera in this way, but has staged the piece as a modern fairy tale about the birthday of a rich, spoilt and ruthless daughter from a wealthy family. However, he prefaced Zemlinsky's one-act opera with a prologue. This contains the orchestral piece "Begleitungsmusik zu einer Lichtspielszene" by Arnold Schönberg, who was a student of Zemlinsky and later married Zemlinsky's sister Mathilde. Schönberg's orchestral piece was written to accompany a silent film yet to be shot - and becomes the soundtrack to a piano lesson between Zemlinsky and his pupil and later lover Alma, which also tells the story of their brief and passionate relationship.

Our articles on the subject

Seven questions for ... Mick Morris Mehnert
Dr Takt on Arnold Schönberg's »Begleitungsmusik zu einer Lichtspielscene« / Measures 172-177
The mockery of others
The Composer in the Mirror
Death through Realisation

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Der Zwerg (The Dwarf)
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