Il Teorema di Pasolini

Giorgio Battistelli [*1953]

Information on the piece

Music theatre by Giorgio Battistelli
Libretto by Giorgio Battistelli freely adapted from the film and the novel by Pier Paolo Pasolini
Premiere on 9 June 2023 at the Deutsche Oper Berlin

approx. 1 hrs 45 mins / no interval

In Italian language with German and English surtitles

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

recommended from 16 years
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Supported by Förderkreis der Deutschen Oper Berlin e. V. Composed for the Deutsche Oper Berlin with the support of the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung. Presented by rbb Kultur, Siegessäule and taz

About the performance

On the work
“Teorema”, which was released in 1968 as both a film and a novel, is one of the most radical of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s works, as well as being one of the best known. In it Pasolini portrays a fictitious industrialist’s family as a means to analyse the decay of bourgeois society. A young stranger is taken in as a guest and proceeds to seduce every member of the family in turn, all of whom find it subsequently impossible to continue on their rigidly conventional paths. Each of them sets about breaking free in their own way from the straitjacket that has determined the course of their lives thus far. The domestic servant, Emilia, finds relief in faith, the son embraces the life of an artist, the daughter goes mad, the mother seeks indiscriminate sexual encounters and the patriarch renounces all possessions.

No lesser artist than the great German composer Hans Werner Henze recognised the potential of “Teorema” for the musical-theatre genre and secured the rights to the material, though he did not write the opera himself. As Head of the Munich Biennale, Henze entrusted the musical composition to the Italian composer Giorgio Battistelli, who had already created international ripples with his experimental opera entitled EXPERIMENTUM MUNDI. In 1992 he delivered an initial version of TEOREMA in the form of a chamber opera with mute actors. Today, 30 years later, Battistelli has gone back to the material and created a full-length opera featuring singers and a large orchestra, an opus informed by the experience of scoring works such as RICHARD III and most recently GIULIO CESARE, which have earned him a reputation as one of the greatest living composers of opera.

On the production
IL TEOREMA DI PASOLINI is the first work to be produced by the British-Irish theatre collective Dead Centre for the stage of an opera house. Dead Centre have made a name for themselves as a remarkable directorial team with international festival appearances that have included productions for the Wiener Burgtheater and the Schaubühne Berlin. Their staging of Olga Neuwirth’s opera BÄHLAMMS FEST for the 2019 Ruhrtriennale was their first venture into musical theatre. Their work is characterised by illusionist effects that blur the boundary between fiction and reality and present on-stage action in a cinematic way.

Our articles on the subject

The Maestro turns cinema into opera
With fresh, Irish bitterness
Dead Centre: Our place of serenity … The Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin
Il Teorema di Pasolini – Synopsis
A Cosmos of Musical Theatre


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Advents-Verlosung: Das 2. Fensterchen

In today's Advent calendar window, we are giving away 3 DVDs of "Der Schatzgräber" - an opera in a prelude, four acts and a postlude by Franz Schreker. If you would like to win one of the three DVDs, please send an e-mail today with the subject "The 2nd window" to

DER SCHATZGRÄBER (THE TREASURE HUNTER) by Franz Schreker was a triumph at its world premiere in Frankfurt in 1920 and went on to play 44 times at assorted venues over the next five years. It then fell victim to a shifting zeitgeist and slipped from opera-house programmes, with a National Socialist ban on performances sealing its demise. Even after 1945 the Schreker revival was a long time coming – and THE TREASURE HUNTER has not featured prominently in the renaissance.

As with the vast majority of Schreker’s libretti, the story of Els and Elis explores the relationship between fantasy and reality, between art and life. Soulmates in the sense that they are both at the mercy of the king’s disposition, Els and Elis set off in search of different treasures. Elis, the minstrel, uses his magic lute to locate a stash of jewels and do humanity a good turn. Els, an innkeeper’s daughter who has grown up motherless in a tough, male-chauvinist world, becomes a liar, cheat and murderess in pursuit of her goal, tasking her suitors to steal the queen’s jewels and then having them killed once they have returned with the haul of treasure. Yet even with the gold in their possession, the pair are not content, and so, true to form, Schreker turns his attention to the theme of yearning per se, which is the actual “treasure” that the composer is interested in, “a dream of happiness and redemption”. Elis and Els are caught up in a swirl of dreams, memories, premonitions, songs and music. Their stories take on a dreamlike quality in a world beset by greed, murder and emotional inconstancy. For Franz Schreker the path to redemption could only be via art. Composed during the turmoil of the First World War, the TREASURE HUNTER score amounts to Schreker’s personal confession of artistic faith, executed in florid strokes of late-Romantic musical colour.

Conductor Marc Albrecht; Staging Christof Loy; Set design Johannes Leiacker; Costume design Barbara Drosihn; With Tuomas Pursio, Doke Pauwels, Clemens Bieber, Michael Adams, Joel Allison, Michael Laurenz, Thomas Johannes Mayer, Seth Carico, Daniel Johansson, Gideon Poppe, Stephen Bronk, Elisabet Strid, Patrick Cook, Tyler Zimmerman a. o.; Chorus and Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin

Closing date: 2 December 2023, the winners will be informed by email on 4 December 2023. The DVDs will then be sent by post. Legal recourse is excluded.