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The Teatro Real presents the first stage version in Spain of Die Soldaten, the only opera by Bernd Alois Zimmermann and one of the key compositions of the 20th century; its highly complex dramaturgy is most demanding to stage. Calixto Bieito takes on the adaptation of this magnificent work; its extensive story line and characters portray a picture of human beings - trapped in a mediocre and marginal social milieu - when reason succumbs to circumstances.

Pablo Heras-Casado rises to the challenge of conducting an opera with more than 100 musicians in the orchestra and 16 singers on stage, along with various speaking or mute roles in this devilishly difficult score. For the April 19th performance, Michael Zlabinger will be in the pit.

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Opera in four acts

Music by Bernd Alois Zimmermann (1918-1970)
Libretto by Bernd Alois Zimmermann, after the play (1776) of the same name by Jakov Michael Reinhold Lenz
Premiered at the Opernhaus of Cologne on 15 February 1965

Premiere at the Teatro Real
Production by the Operhaus Zürich and the Komische Oper Berlin

Principal Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro Real
(Coro Intermezzo / Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid)

Starting Point

The only opera that Bernd Alois Zimmermann composed was considered of such overwhelming technical difficulty that the Oper Köln (Germany) rejected it after having commissioned the work: it was too difficult to stage. A simplified revised version - although also devilishly complex – was finally accepted, it was to become one of the key works of the 20th century. The opera is based on the adaptation of an 18th century text of the same name by German poet Jakob Lenz, and it deliberately rebels against the rule of the three unities –place, action and time - of classical dramatic theatre.

The result is a variety of ancillary and disconnected events in fragmentary succession which do not always constitute scenes in the traditional sense. Added to this is a spherical concept of time where everything that has happened in the past will be repeated in the future and exist simultaneously. In other words, it is our perception that makes us believe that events follow one after the other, when in reality, this is not the case. Yesterday, today and tomorrow converge. In presenting a theatre of situation which opposes the psychological theatre, Die Soldaten emerges as an audacious, essential and radical work. 

Production Team & Cast

  • Musical director: Pablo Heras-Casado (May. 16, 22, 24, 28, 31 · Jun. 3)
  •   Michael Zlabinger (May. 19)
  • Stage director: Calixto Bieito
  • Set designer: Rebecca Ringst
  • Costume designer: Ingo Krügler
  • Lighting designer: Franck Evin
  • Video: Sarah Derendinger
  • Choreographer: Beate Vollack
  • Dramaturg: Beate Breidenbach
  • Chorus Master: Andrés Máspero
· - ·
  • Wesener: Steven Humes
  • Marie: Susanne Elmark
  • Charlotte: Julia Riley
  • Wesener's Old Mother: Hanna Schwarz
  • Stolzius: Leigh Melrose
  • Stolzius' Mother: Iris Vermillion
  • Colonel Obrist, Graf von Spannheim: Reinhard Mayr
  • Desportes: Stefan Vinke
  • Pirzel: Nicky Spence
  • Eisenhardt: Germán Olvera
  • Captain Haudy: Rafael Fingerlos
  • Captain Mary: Wolfgang Newerla
  • Three young officers: Francisco Vas, Gerardo López, Albert Casals
  • Gräffin De La Roche: Noëmi Nadelmann
  • The young Count: Antonio Lozano
  • Madame Roux: Beate Vollack

Performance Dates

  • 16 MAY (W) 20:00h
    Turn Première
  • 19 MAY (S) 20:00h
    Turn G
  • 22 MAY (T) 20:00h
    Turn F
  • 24 MAY (T) 20:00h
    Turn B
  • 28 MAY (M) 20:00h
    Turn Z
  • 31 MAY (T) 20:00h
    Turn A
  • 3 JUN (S) 20:00h
    Turn D
  • Place: Main Auditorium