Im Gedenken an Aribert Reimann - Deutsche Oper Berlin

The Deutsche Oper Berlin mourns the death of Aribert Reimann

March 4, 1936 – March 13, 2024

A feeling of homecoming – that is how Aribert Reimann described his return to the Deutsche Oper Berlin for the world premiere of L’INVISIBLE in 2017. It almost seemed that he had never been gone, however, so close was the relationship the composer had with this theatre from the very beginning of his career. At the age of only 19, having just graduated from secondary school, he took his first job here as a répétiteur, and the Deutsche Oper – then still performing at the Theater des Westens – gave him his first, influential opera impressions. He eagerly soaked up these artistic impulses offered by his hometown, quickly developing his own style as a composer – with the encouragement of his teacher, Boris Blacher. Even at this time, the focus of his creative output was the human voice, in lied as much as opera. Even his first opera, EIN TRAUMSPIEL, based on Strindberg’s eponymous work and premiered in 1964, impressively reflected a composer who had found his very own way to extend the expressive possibilities of the human voice. In cooperation with the Deutsche Oper Berlin, he subsequently wrote the ballet DIE VOGELSCHEUCHEN (1970) and the operas MELUSINE (premiered in Schwetzingen in 1970), DIE GESPENSTERSONATE (1984) and DAS SCHLOSS (1992). At a time when the European avant-garde was suspicious of traditional musical theatre, Reimann sought to extend Europe’s great cultural heritage, exploring the great tales of world literature and transforming works by Euripides, Shakespeare, Strindberg, Kafka and García Lorca into musical theatre works and poetry by Poe, Celan and Sylvia Plath into songs. Reimann invariably wrote for his performers, for great artist personalities such as Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Doris Soffel and Brigitte Fassbaender, with whom he also performed as a song pianist. At the latest when his LEAR was premiered in Munich in 1978 with Fischer-Dieskau in the title role – a work that has remained one of the most frequently-performed contemporary operas to this day – did the music world come to appreciate his qualities and heaped commissions and honours upon him, including beyond the German borders. Berlin, however, remained the centre of his life, where he held a professorship for contemporary song from 1983 onwards – and the Maeterlinck opera L’INVISIBLE, premiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 2017, completed a circle, especially as it was to remain his last musical theatre work. One further last opera project planned for this theatre could not be completed by Aribert Reimann. Having received the GEMA’s Award for his Lifetime Achievement as recently as February, Aribert Reimann has now died at the age of 88.

The Deutsche Oper Berlin mourns the passing of a great artist who was a decisive influence on contemporary musical theatre, and of the human being Aribert Reimann, who maintained his friendship with this theatre throughout his entire, fulfilled life.


“Aribert Reimann’s musical theatre has accompanied me through life since I was fortunate enough to experience his LEAR in Munich in 1978. Like few other composers of his generation, Reimann knew how to tell stories in his operas which directly affected us humans living in the 21st century. When I became artistic director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, it was immediately clear to me that I wanted to continue this long-standing cooperation between Reimann and this theatre, and I am delighted that with L’INVISIBLE, he gave us a work that is among his most personal operas. Through his works, Aribert Reimann contributed immeasurably to musical theatre, and I am certain that his music will continue to find its way into people’s hearts.” – Dietmar Schwarz


“With his operas, songs and orchestral pieces, Aribert Reimann has left us an oeuvre that leaves no one unmoved in its emotional urgency and expressive power. I was fortunate enough to work with him several times and to conduct the world premiere of his last opera, L’INVISIBLE. To me, the deep humanity expressed by this music represents Aribert Reimann as an artist and a man. His death is a personal loss for all of us, and his works remind us of everything music and musical theatre can mean to our existence as human beings, and our dealings with one another.” – Sir Donald Runnicles


Translation: Alexa Nieschlag


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