Der ferne Klang
The mysterious story about love that falls victim to creative obsession.
The State OperaApproximate running time
3 hours 5 minutes, 2 intermission (25 minutes) minutesLanguage
In German, surtitles in Czech, EnglishPremiere
March 20, 2022
The work’s premiere, on 18 August 1912 in Frankfurt, catapulted the Austrian composer Franz Schreker among the top music avant-gardists. He maintained his position until the 1930s, when the Nazis added him to the list of “degenerate artists” and his music was withdrawn from public performances.
Love that falls victim to creative obsession and the tragic fate of a girl who, owing to her family’s poverty, becomes a prostitute are the key themes of the late-Romantic opera Der ferne Klang (The Distant Sound), an almost Freudian study of the chimeric artistic ideal and the degradation of women in a heartless and indifferent world.
State Opera Chorus
State Opera Orchestra
National Theatre Opera Ballet
At the beginning of the opera, Fritz, a composer driven by the ambition to write a great piece of music and discover the mysterious perfect “distant sound”, which will bring him fame, abandons his beloved Grete. She wants to kill herself, yet the mystic beauty of nature saves her life. Ten years later, Grete is a celebrated courtesan in Venice. Fritz is among the guests at her party, and proceeds to spurn her love again. Another five years later, Grete attends the premiere of Fritz’s first opera, which goes down badly with the audience – she perceives that he is still seeking his “distant sound”. Fritz and Grete ultimately reunite, whereupon he finally hears the desired sound. Yet it is too late – before he can finish a new ending to his opera, Fritz dies in Grete’s arms.
In this new production of Der ferne Klang, the action takes place in the present day in a modern European city. Fritz is a well-known conservatory professor with compositional ambitions, and Grete is a young girl from a poor neighborhood, his student and lover. As in Schreker’s libretto, we witness the couple's three meetings and partings. Years pass between each episode. Yet Timofey Kulyabin's production is not so much about the nature of romantic love and the fallacy of romantic illusions as it is about the nature and rights of talent. Especially within the context that a woman possesses this talent.
After a long time in obscurity, over the past two decades Schreker’s music has attracted renewed attention – due to the scores whose structure is akin to the film cut technique, due to the fascinating oscillation between traditional harmony and atonality, due to the original dimensions of expression, the traits that today put Schreker on a par with Gustav Mahler.
It was Alexander Zemlinsky, a friend of Schreker’s, who conducted the Czech premiere of Der ferne Klang at the Neues deutsches Theater in Prague on 20 May 1920 to great acclaim. The mysterious story about that which is within our reach yet beyond us is thus returning to Prague 102 years later.
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Where to buy tickets
The National Theatre sells tickets up to 6 months in advance. On 1 February at 9am we started selling tickets for performances of Drama, Ballet, Opera and Laterna magika until the end of July 2023.
What to wear?
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