Canadian Premiere of Die Tote Stadt – The Dead City by Erich Wolfgang Korngold in Calgary



Sat / jan 30 : 8:00PM

Wed / feb 03 : 7:30PM

Fri / feb 05 : 8:00PM

A story of heartache and spiritual ruin

Next January 30th, Calgary Opera presents the Canadian Premiere of Die Tote Stadt – The Dead City by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, also playing on February 3 & 5.

Calgary Opera welcomes back Maestro Bramwell Tovey as Conductor. Bramwell is a gifted Conductor and Musical Director, a published composer and a Juno and GRAMMY Award winner.

The production follows a man’s fight for his sanity as he’s tormented by desire for a seductress who bears a striking resemblance to his ghostly love. Die tote Stadt was a huge success, and ciricled the globe within two years of opening.

Years later, Erich Wolfgang Korngold went to Hollywood at the behest of Max Reinhardt, in order to adapt Mendelssohn’s score for the Warner Bros. film production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He later went on to compose the scores to many other Hollywood movies, and won the Oscar for his work composing The Adventures of Robin Hood. 

Die Tote Stadt stars Lyne Fortin as Marie/Marietta, David Pomeroy as Paul, Brett Polegato as Fritz/Frank and Emilia Boteva as Brigatta. Kelly Robinson directs.


Video of Die Tote Stadt scene


Act I

Paul is in the home he shared with his late wife, Marie, mourning her loss.  The decaying city around him serves as a constant reminder of the past.  Paul has transformed one of his rooms into a “temple of memories” in which he has enshrined relics and reminders of his life with Marie, including a treasured braid of her hair.  He is in an excitable state when his friend, Frank, comes to visit and Paul tells him of a young woman he just met.  Marietta, a dancer, bears an uncanny resemblance to Marie and he has invited her to his home in an effort to bring new life into this place of grief and death.  When the girl arrives, Paul is so overwhelmed that he attempts to embrace her on the spot.  Marietta pulls away, and in the ensuing “play,” she accidentally reveals

a portrait of his late wife.  Hearing friends singing in the street on their way to rehearsal, she departs, while Paul agonizes over his conflicting emotions: loyalty to his dead spouse and desire for her living double.  An apparition of Marie steps from her portrait, counseling Paul to choose the living as she morphs into an image of the dancer.

Act II

Weeks later, Paul continues to struggle with the boundary between fantasy and reality.  He tells his friend Frank about his agony, tormented by guilt.  He sees his housekeeper, Brigitta, who left his service due to his perceived “infidelity” to the dead Marie.  Frank, for all his well-intentioned efforts to help, is no longer perceived as a friend, but rather a contender for Marietta’s charms.  Marietta and her friends approach as Paul steps into the shadows to secretly observe her.  She begins to rehearse a scene she is performing in the ballet Robert le diable, in which her character rises from the tomb.  Paul confronts her, outraged at this mock resurrection and she sends her friends away.  Paul angrily denounces Marietta and claims her only attraction is her resemblance to his dead wife.  Marietta refuses to believe this and seduces Paul, suggesting they spend the night at his home in order to banish the ghost of Marie, once and for all.


The following morning, Marietta stands gazing at Marie’s portrait, triumphant.  A religious procession passes by and the couple watch from the window until Paul, seeing the bishop, falls to his knees.  Marietta is put off by Paul’s piety and she attempts to distract him.  They begin to quarrel, with Paul trying to defend himself while Marietta denounces him as a hypocrite and weakling.  She begins to dance erotically, taunting him, and drapes Marie’s braid around her neck.  Seized with rage, Paul strangles Marietta and is horrified as he watches her turn into Marie in death.  After a restless and exhausted sleep, Paul suddenly wakes and realizes that none of this actually occurred: the braid is in its usual place.  The housekeeper announces Marietta’s return for her umbrella and the roses she left behind when she hastily departed.  The young woman suggests to Paul that perhaps she should stay with him; however, Paul appears noncommittal.  After Marietta leaves, Frank tries to convince him to abandon Bruges—this city of death—forever.  The past is gone and, with it, the love of his life.

By Suzanne Calvin, Director of Media and Public Relations, The Dallas Opera

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