The Soldiers Opera in four acts by Bernd Alois Zimmermann, text by the composer after the play of the same name by Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz

New production
Musical director:
Steven Sloane
Robert Innes Hopkins
Marie-Jeanne Lecca
Wolfgang Göbbel
Beate Vollack
Claudia Barainsky, Andreas Becker, Bernhard Berchtold, Robert Bork, Adrian Clarke, Helen Field, Kathryn Harries, Peter Hoare, Christoper Lemmings, Frode Olsen, Claudio Otelli, Katharina Peetz, Jochen Schmeckenbecher, Hanna Schwarz, Michael Smallwood, Dieter Suttheimer, Adrian Thompson, Beate Vollack, Robert Wörle, Bochumer Symphoniker
Opening night:
5. October
7:30 pm
approx. 2 hours, 1 interval
7., 9., 11., 13. October
7:30 pm
approx. 2 hours, 1 interval
5., 7., 9., 11., 13. October
The introduction begins 45 minutes prior to the start of the event.
Category A
60 €
Category B
50 €
Category C
40 €
Category D
20 €

When in 1960, Bernd Alois Zimmermann presented the score of his opera The Soldiers to the director of the Cologne Opera, the immediate verdict was: »unplayable«. A brutal verdict for a composer whose role as a musical outsider was not the result of a pose – Zimmermann’s works were shaped rather by wartime experiences and also by his strictly Roman Catholic home. At first discouraged, the composer set his work aside, but his persistent friends pressed him again and again to stick by his Soldiers, and to revise the opera if necessary. Five years later, in 1965, Zimmermann's magnum opus was finally performed for the first time at the Cologne Opera. Despite the unprecedented musical and technical challenges it presented, The Soldiers went on to one triumph after another, being played in Munich, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Berlin, Dresden, Amsterdam, Lyon, Basel and Boston amongst other places.
Forty years after first being performed, The Soldiers can be seen outside an opera house setting for the first time – in an industrial hall. This unusual venue is virtually predestined for a work in which the composer liberated himself from the »wretchedly famous edict of the three unities« (J. M. R. Lenz) of place, action and time. Using three orchestra ensembles, Zimmermann musically layers a number of plot lines over and beside one another, interposing jazz elements with baroque chorales so as to clarify his music dramatic notion of the »sphericality of time«. »Future action is presumed to have taken place and is followed by earlier action« (Zimmermann.)

This masterpiece is closely based on the five act play, The Soldiers, written by Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz around 1775. Lenz chronicles the fate of the young Marie Wesener, the daughter of a fancy-goods merchant from Lille, who crosses into the world of soldiers, ending up as a prostitute.


A RuhrTriennale production
The production is supported by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes.
With kind support from WestLB AG – RuhrTriennale sponsor