Richard Strauss [1864 – 1949]

Information on the piece

Lyrical Comedy in Three Acts
Poem by Hugo von Hofmannsthal
First performed in Dresden on 1 July 1933
Premiere at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on 18 March 2023

recommended from 15 years

approx. 3 hours 30 minutes | Two breaks

In German with German and English surtitles

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

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Our thanks to our partners

The performances of ARABELLA on 18 and 23 March 2023 will be recorded by rbb Kultur and Naxos. We will inform you about the broadcast date at a later date. A DVD / Blu-ray of this production will be produced as a collaboration between Naxos and Deutsche Oper Berlin. Supported by Förderkreis der Deutschen Oper Berlin e. V. Presented by rbb Kultur and taz

About the performance

On the work
Vienna, circa 1860. The financially strapped Count Waldner is lodging with his family in a Viennese hotel. His only path to solvency is for him to secure an advantageous marriage for one of his two daughters – and the family can only afford to present Arabella, the eldest, in the upper circles of society. To conceal the family’s indigence, the parents have raised Zdenka as a boy, dressing her accordingly. Arabella is not short of suitors but has resolved to wait for ‘Mr Right’. When Mandryka, an aristocrat from a distant region, arrives, he and Arabella are instantly smitten. Arabella only asks to be able to bid farewell to her friends and suitors at the Fasching ball that evening.

Among Arabella’s admirers is Matteo, a young officer whom Zdenka secretly loves and has struck up a friendship with – ostensibly as his male buddy. To get closer to him, Zdenka hands him a letter – apparently from Arabella – in which he is promised a night of love with her in a darkened room of the hotel, where Zdenka plans to enjoy him instead. Mandryka, eavesdropping and convinced that Arabella is two-timing him, mixes with the partygoers at the hotel, intending to confront Arabella.

Arabella, innocent of this, is initially shocked and saddened by Mandryka’s suspicions but forgives him when the mix-up is revealed for what it is. The two agree to marry, as do Zdenka and Matteo.

On the production
Richard Strauss’s orchestral richness and opulence coupled with the period Viennese setting of the work led to ARABELLA being falsely pigeonholed as a light-hearted comedy of errors from its 1933 premiere onwards. In the estimation of Tobias Kratzer, however, who triumphed at the Deutsche Oper with his production of Alexander von Zemlinsky’s THE DWARF, this final collaboration between Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal marks a collision of two world views: the traditional roles of men and women on the one hand – as expressed in Arabella’s famous solo “Und du sollst mein Gebieter sein” – and a modern idea of social interaction on the other – as illustrated by Zdenka with her questioning of gender-based identities. Here, Kratzer turns the spotlight on this disunity between the various character portrayals in ARABELLA and explores these role-specific tensions on a continuum stretching from 19th-century Vienna to the present day.

Our articles on the subject

Scintillating imagination and playful nonchalance – Tobias Kratzer
Curtain up for another Richard Strauss

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