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A blood-soaked tragedy about political demagoguery and the seduction of the masses. Hans Werner Henze’s The Bassarids tells the tale of the primordial human conflict between instinct and reason, between passionate excess and rational control. Following their success with Schönberg's Moses and Aron, Vladimir Jurowski and Barrie Kosky now take on a work of equal monumentality and archaism.
Livestream of the premiere Sun, 13. Oct 2019, 18:00 CET
Young Pentheus has ascended to the throne of Thebes. Yet a stranger begins to undermine the king’s authority. In honor of the God Dionysus, he leads the people to intoxicating revelries devoted to pleasure and lust. More and more people join him, including Pentheus’ own mother Agaue. The king tries in vain to fight the power of instinct with reason. Finally, he wants to get his own impression and, disguising himself as a woman, joins the mass. In the excesses of a nightly orgy, he is brutally killed by his own mother who mistakes him for a wild animal. The next morning, she realizes she is holding her son’s head in her arms. The stranger reveals himself to be Dionysus and demands absolute, unconditional worship. One of the most important post-war German composers, Henze employed a gigantic orchestral machinery to set this timeless material to music. Taking structural orientation from the symphonic form, the score juxtaposes in four movements two opposing musical spheres representing Dionysus and Pentheus. In Barry Kosky’s production, the orchestra becomes the scene of battle for the antagonistic principles, breaking the physical boundaries of the orchestra pit and pressing onto the stage, where it becomes both witness and accomplice in the events unfolding.
Musical drama in one act by Wystan Hugh Auden and Chester Kallman 
Based on the tragedy The Bacchae by Euripides