April 6, 2024, 7 p.m.

Opernhaus Zürich
Falkenstrasse 1
8008 Zürich

Franz Kafka’s novel fragment Amerika, written at the beginning of the 20th century, anticipated the great crises of modernity. Left unfinished, it tells the story of Karl Rossmann's nightmarish journey through life to America, with its great promises of happiness. But it soon proves to be a land of absurd constraints and impossibilities. As if by chance, Karl encounters seemingly caring relatives, overbearing wives, conniving criminals, and authoritarian superiors, and falls deeper and deeper into a cycle of hope, dependence, exploitation, and repudiation. Karl is «The Lost One» of Kafka’s original title.
Another individual nearly lost to the world is composer Roman Haubenstock-Ramati. This musician of Polish-Israeli descent, who died in 1994, lived in Vienna as a music editor and composition teacher after Kafkaesque periods of flight and exile. His magnum opus is a work of music theater based on Kafka's Amerika, first performed in Berlin in 1966, which enjoys legendary status. The opera has only been performed twice since its premiere, but in its form of a bold musical theater sketch remains one of the landmarks of opera composition in the 20th century. Amerika combines compositional precision with great freedom of form. In Haubenstock-Ramati’s work, the stations of Kafka’s novel combine to form breathtaking mobiles of sound, image, action and light, with the auditorium likewise integrated into the performance through the use of sound projections. After Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Soldaten, Wolfgang Rihm’s Hamletmaschine, Heinz Holliger’s Lunea, and Helmut Lachenmann’s Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern, the opera house presents Amerika, continuing its series of works in which exceptional modern music theater concepts are put up for discussion. Haubenstock-Ramati’s auditory, visual, and intellectual adventure, which challenges all the senses, will be staged by German director Sebastian Baumgarten, a veteran interpreter of non-narrative, multimedia theater. The extremely elaborate production is musically directed by Gabriel Feltz, a conductor who knows how to master even the greatest challenges of contemporary music with prudence and passion.


Kulturstelle contact: Ana Kitanovic email

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