Working together with the new General Music Director Ainārs Rubiķis, Canadian star director Robert Carsen will stage his début production at the Komische Oper Berlin with a musical psycho-thriller about the difficulty of letting go and the necessity of doing so. Playing the main characters are the American Sara Jakubiak, whose »impressively velvet-soft soprano voice« has been admired by the New York Times, and Aleš Briscein, last celebrated by the Komische Oper’s audiences in his role as Lenski in Eugene Onegin.
Following the death of his wife Marie, Paul has sequestered himself in his »temple of memories«. Isolated from the outside world, he lives solely for the memory of his deceased wife, until one day he encounters the dancer Marietta, who is the spitting image of Marie. Paul falls in love with her, yet ultimately seeks only to bring the woman he has lost back to life. Paul becomes ever more enmeshed in his obsessive love, until catastrophe strikes. Or was it all a dream? A trick of the subconscious mind? What secret lurks behind the death of his beloved wife?
This late-romantic masterpiece by Korngold, who was just 20 at the time of composing it, leads us deep into the impenetrable confusion of the subconscious mind. The template for the opera was provided by the symbolist cult novel Bruges-la-Morte (Dead Bruges) by the Belgian author Georges Rodenbach, a work whose morbidity and symbolic ambiguity is wholly in keeping with the spirit of fin de siècle. Alongside Richard Strauss, Korngold – who took the operatic world by storm with his first-full length work – was at one point the most frequently-performed composer on German stages, until the National Socialists brought his operatic career to a premature close. In recent decades, Korngold’s works have finally been experiencing the revival they deserve.
Libretto by Paul Schott, based on the novel Bruges-la-Morte by Georges Rodenbach