The Miracle of Heliane

Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897 – 1957)

Information on the piece

Opera in three acts
Libretto by Hans Müller-Einigen, based on Hans Kaltneker's „Die Heilige“
First performed on 7th October 1927 at the Hamburgischen Staatsoper
Premiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on 18th March 2018

recommended from 16 years

3 hrs 15 mins / 1 interval

In German with German and English surtitles

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

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About the performance

Erich Wolfgang Korngold spoke of this work as his “masterpiece”. THE MIRACLE OF HELIANE bears all the hallmarks of Korngold’s musical theatre - and goes one step further in scale, with a huge score and orchestra, intoxicating pathos and exquisitely expressive harmonies that play with polytonality - resulting in a gripping and sensuous drama. The world premiere in Hamburg in 1927 was a triumph, with more than a dozen houses booking the latest work by Korngold, at the time the second most performed composer of opera after Richard Strauss. In 1928 the work was presented at the Städtische Oper Berlin, with Bruno Walter directing, but here, as at other venues, the reception was cool, due in part to intrigues, in part to the charge that his Late Romantic score was behind the times. With the Jewish Korngold prevented by the Nazis from presenting his works to the public, THE MIRACLE OF HELIANE vanished from the repertoire, never to return. This is a timeless fairy tale portraying a cold ruler incapable of loving anyone, his wife Heliane, devoted to a Dionysian stranger, and a people waiting for a redemptory miracle to occur.

A precise psychological analysis of a work’s protagonists is what interests director Christof Loy, who is returning to the Deutsche Oper Berlin after stints here presenting JENUFA, FALSTAFF and EDWARD II. And it falls to Marc Albrecht, for many years a close collaborator with the opera house, to waken Korngold’s grand and opulent music from decades of slumber.

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