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An island of lust outside the gates of Genoa, missing and abused high-society children, a physically deformed patron of the arts – these are the ingredients of Franz Schreker’s The Branded.Not for the faint-hearted, in other words– a superlative psychological thriller! Star director Calixto Bieito, the internationally celebrated soprano Ausrine Stundyte, Peter Hoare, and the former ensemble member Michael Nagy – now a regular performer at all the major opera houses – with a late Romantic psychological masterpiece.
Calixto Bieito’s 2005 production of Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio at the Komische Oper Berlin caused a veritable opera scandal, and with his other works – including Madame Butterfly, Armida and The Marksman – he has continued to bring powerful, thoroughly disturbing images to the stage. With Franz Schreker’s masterpiece, he now examines the final taboo of erotic desire in a brutal and a-moral society.
With widely sweeping waves of melodies and experimental harmonic developments ranging to the edge of tonality, Franz Schreker created scintillating portraits of the human soul in this work, which premièred in 1918. Schreker, who during his lifetime was the most frequently-performed German composer but was then defamed as »debased« from 1933 onward, here created a piece of musical theatre which – inspired by symbolism and psychoanalysis – dissolves both musical and dramatic boundaries. His characters are literally branded by one another. Under the direction of the grand-master of interpreting human spiritual suffering, and under the musical direction of the internationally successful conductor Stefan Soltesz, the protagonists search for salvation through love and beauty, but lose themselves in the abyss of political intrigues, erotic excesses and terrible betrayal.