Zimmermann Die Soldaten on tour (Hamburg and Paris)

Die Soldaten is on tour in Hambourg and Paris after Cologne.

Bernd Alois Zimmermann


  • François-Xavier RothMusical direction (Ass: Arne Willimczik, Arnaud Arbet, Nathanaël Iselin, Guillaume Le Picard)
  • Paul Jeukendrup Sound direction
  • Calixto Bieito Direction (Ass.: Nina Dudek)
  • Macarena Quantin Soufflage
  • Anthony Sandle Coordinator midshipmen
  • Tómas Tómasson Wesener, a gallantry dealer in Lille
  • Emily Hindrichs Marie, his daughter
  • Judith Thielsen Charlotte, his daughter
  • Kismara Pezzati Wesener’s old mother
  • Nikolay Borchev Stolzius, cloth merchant in Armentières
  • Alexandra Ionis Stolzius’s mother
  • Lucas Singer Obrist, Count of Spannheim
  • Martin Koch Desportes, a nobleman
  • John Heuzenroeder Pirzel, a major
  • Oliver Zwarg Eisenhardt, a field preacher
  • Miljenko Turk Haudy
  • Wolfgang Stefan Schwaiger Mary
  • Yongseung Song Three young officers
  • Young Woo Kim Three young officers
  • Artjom Korotkov Three young officers
  • Laura Aikin The Countess de la Roche
  • Alexander Kaimbacher The young count, her son
  • Alexander Fedin The servant of Countess de la Roche
  • Ján Rusko The young midshipman
  • Frederik Schauhoff The drunken officer
  • Anthony Sandle Three captains
  • Heiko Köpke Three captains
  • Carsten Mainz Three captains
  • Denise Meisner Madame Roux and Marie Double
  • Mitglieder und Gäste des Herren- & Extrachores der Oper Köln


A co-production of Cologne Opera and Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne.

In »Die Soldaten«, Bernd-Alois Zimmermann processes his personal experiences during the  Second World War and the threats posed to the world by a potential nuclear disaster. His dazzling sound language is clearly inspired by the lucid colours of impressionism, and he created a dystopia that remains timeless and consequential. Despite its vehemence, the opera is an intimate play between human beings, a parable about love and its dark sister, violence, and about the abysses of brutality and self-destruction.

François-Xavier Roth, the Gürzenich Orchestra and the Spanish star director Calixto Bieito – who has previously staged »Die Soldaten« – are now cooperating with the Cologne Opera to adapt Zimmermann’s »total theatre« for the concert hall. Roth wants to concentrate on the musical texture of this monumental score and present an exemplary interpretation together with the Gürzenich Orchestra. »After the much acclaimed production here at the opera house in Cologne, I had the urge to play the work in large concert halls, to bring the orchestra out of the pit and into the hall in order to offer the audience an altogether novel, unfiltered perspective on the work. This type of thrilling immediacy cannot be generated in a traditional opera house.« Calixto Bieito adds: »I wouldn’t want the result of my cooperation with François-Xavier Roth to be a run-of-the-mill production. So we’ve made more of an installation out of it. It’s set in an ordinary concert hall situation and shows how, over the course of the piece, the orchestra becomes a giant deadly machine able to devour people and regurgitate them as a changed persons. The music leads up to a Big Bang which comes at the end of the piece. And it’s one that will reverberate for a long time.«

Hence it is not surprising that Bernd-Alois Zimmermann’s opera »Die Soldaten« is part of a whole array of milestones that were premiered by the Gürzenich Orchestra. In 1960, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Generalmusikdirektor of Cologne at the time, claimed such a performance to be an »impossible task«, and Gürzenich-Kapellmeister Günter Wand also refused the score. Yet five years later, on February 15th, 1965, a fresh attempt resulted in the premiere by the Gürzenich Orchestra under Michael Gielen at the Cologne Opera. What evoked disturbed reactions and resistance back then can now be seen as a benchmark – and at the same time proves the capabilities and the innovative power of the Gürzenich Orchestra.