Wozzeck

Opera by Alban Berg


Sung in German with German surtitles
approx. 1:40 h | no interval
  • Synopsis

    ACT 1: FIVE CHARACTER PIECES

    SCENE 1
    Wozzeck is giving the Captain a shave. In the meantime, the Captain engages Wozzeck in a conversation about time and eternity, virtues and morality, and reproaches him for having had a child out of wedlock. Wozzeck explains that existential adversity and virtue are incompatible.

    SCENE 2
    Wozzeck is working with Andres. While Andres sings a hunting song, Wozzeck suffers from apocalyptic visions.

    SCENE 3
    Marie looks admiringly at the Drum Major. Her neighbor Margret taunts her by making lascivious comments. Marie sings her child a lullaby. Just then, Wozzeck arrives. Disturbed, he tells Marie of his visions. His state of mind frightens Marie.

    SCENE 4
    In order to make some extra money, Wozzeck offers himself to the doctor as an experimental subject for medical experiments. The doctor considers Wozzeck’s psychological constitution merely to be an interesting side effect of his experiments in nutrition.

    SCENE 5
    After some initial hesitation, Marie gives in to the Drum Major’s wishes.


    ACT 2: SYMPHONY IN FIVE MOVEMENTS

    SCENE 1
    Marie gazes at the earrings that the Drum Major has given her, and feels disturbed by her child. When Wozzeck suddenly appears, she responds to his distrust with excuses. Wozzeck hands over his pay to Marie. Marie feels guilty.

    SCENE 2
    The doctor and the Captain meet on the street. They insinuate to Wozzeck, who is rushing past, that Marie is being unfaithful to him. Distraught, Wozzeck runs off.

    SCENE 3
    Wozzeck searches for Marie. Provocatively, Marie dodges Wozzeck’s questions about the Drum Major. She responds coldly to Wozzeck’s threats. Wozzeck is out of his depth.

    SCENE 4
    In a bar, Wozzeck watches as Marie dances closely with the Drum Major. A drunken journeyman holds a sermon on human existence. A fool foresees a coming act of violence.

    SCENE 5
    In the barracks, Wozzeck cannot fall asleep. The drunken Drum Major humiliates Wozzeck by bragging about his conquest of Marie and beating him up.


    ACT 3: FIVE INVENTIONS

    SCENE 1
    Marie, plagued by her bad conscience, reads the story of the adulteress Maria Magdalena in the Bible. When her child awakes, she tells him a bitter tale. She then prays, pleading for forgiveness.

    SCENE 2
    Wozzeck is with Marie in a remote place, and the two recall the time spent together. Suddenly, Wozzeck stabs Marie, killing her.

    SCENE 3
    Wozzeck has gone to a bar. He dances with Margret, Margret discovers blood on him; Wozzeck flees.

    SCENE 4
    Wozzeck looks for the knife in order to hide it, but to no avail. The Doctor and the Captain pass by.

    SCENE 5
    Marie and Wozzeck’s child learns of his mother’s death. He continues playing with his hobbyhorse.

  • Press reviews

    „Directed with minimal props and maximum physicality by Andrea Breth, it was a tour de force, with Roman Trekel impeccable as a wan, heartbreaking, almost gormless Wozzeck, and Nadja Michael 's Marie careless, febrile and bewitching. Orchestra and onstage band brought Berg's lurching waltzes and drunken marches to cruel life. In the cool intimacy of the revamped 1950s Schiller theatre each note glistened.” (The Observer)

    “With Barenboim at the helm and a strong cast of singer-actors, the Staatsoper has come up with a Wozzeck that will go down in Berlin’s musical history. This dark, intense production is made so well that it feels like a 100-minute nightmare. The effect is traumatic…it is a triumph.” (Financial Times London)