Apr 27, 2018
This spring, Madrid’s Teatro Real will present the first-ever performances of Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten in Spain, led by Pablo Heras-Casado, the theater’s Principal Guest Conductor. To mark this occasion the Teatro Real has commissioned a new co-production (along with Operhaus Zürich and the Komische Oper Berlin), directed by Calixto Bieto, which will feature sixteen singers on stage and more than one hundred instrumentalists in the pit. The work, Zimmermann’s only opera, is one of the most challenging and extraordinary pieces in the 20th century repertoire.
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.