New Productions

(Three One Act Operas)

Bohuslav Martinu
1890 - 1959

Messertränen (A Knife's Tears)
Opera in one act
Libretto by Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes
First performed October 22nd 1969, Staatstheater, Brno
Komödie auf der Brücke (Comedy on the Bridge)
Comic one act opera written for radio
Libretto by the composer after a piece by Václav Kliment Klicpera
First performed March 18th 1937, on Prague Radio
Zweimal Alexander (Twice Alexander)
Comic one act opera
Libretto by André Wurmser
First performed February 10th 1964, Nationaltheater, Mannheim

Sung in German with German surtitles
c. 2 1/2 hrs. with one interval

About the work

When Bohuslav Martinů was 45 he wrote: »I was never an avant gardist.« But he was one of the 20th century's most innovative compos ...
When Bohuslav Martinů was 45 he wrote: »I was never an avant gardist.« But he was one of the 20th century's most innovative composers, whose broad and varied output mirrored diverse musical influences. He moved to Paris in the 1920s and his reputation as a composer soon spread. The works which subsequently came into being were influenced by trends in the French capital at that time – the group of composers Les Six, neoclassicism, Igor Stravinsky and jazz. His »Paris« compositions include three one act operas Tränen des Messers/A Knife's Tears (1928), Komödie auf der Brücke/Comedy on the Bridge (1935) and Zweimal Alexander/Twice Alexander (1937).
The first was met with disapproval because of it's grotesque story about a girl called Eleonora who falls in love with a hanged man, tries to make him jealous with a passing cyclist but then realises that the dead man, waking at last, is the devil. The excentric libretto was written by the Dadaist poet Georges Ribemont Dessaignes. A Knife's Tears was not performed for the first time until 1969 – seven years after Martinů's death – in Brno. His Comedy on the Bridge is every bit as absurd. An opera for radio, one of the first of its kind, staged for the first time in 1948, proves Martinů's nose for new possibilities made possible by technical innovations - the emerging mass media. A Musical quote is introduced in the comic opera Twice Alexander, with a popular theme in opera – putting fidelity to the test. This, combined with different forms of music develops into a surreal tangle of dream and reality. The first performance of this opera »outlived« Bohuslav Martinů too, by five years.


Messertränen Eleonore is infatuated with a hanged man. Her mother would prefer handsome Satan as a son-in-law. Eleonore tri ...
Messertränen Eleonore is infatuated with a hanged man. Her mother would prefer handsome Satan as a son-in-law. Eleonore tries to make her beloved jealous by flirting with a cyclist who, it soon becomes clear, is Satan, who makes eyes at both mother and daughter. Eleonore, overcome, faints. While the mother frets over her daughter, the hanged man comes to life. Eleonore, conscious again, enjoys his tender caresses. But he too turns out to be Satan, who leaves the distraught women saying: »I am, I was and always will be – the other one!« Zweimal Alexander Alexandre intends to put his wife Armande's fidelity to the test. Their maid Philomène and a portrait of the head of the household are sure that she will remain steadfast. Alexandre disguises himself as his cousin from Texas, which thoroughly disconcerts Armande. Alexandre wants to explain the farce, but Armande insists on kissing the cousin from Texas, and not her husband. Night closes in. Armande begins dreaming: visited by the goddess of marriage and her demons. Next day everything in the »Armande / Alexandre« household seems normal. But something has changed… Komödie auf der Brücke A bridge in the middle of a war: the guards on both sides won't let anybody who sets foot on the bridge leave it. Popelka and farmer Bedroň are stuck. They are joined by Popelka's fiancé Sykoš, who sees them kissing. He accuses Popelka of being unfaithful. Bedroň's wife comes running up, reproaching her husband and asking where he has been. The schoolmaster appears. All four ask him to resolve the situation. He, however, is obsessed with trying to find the solution to a riddle posed to him by officer Ladinsky: »How can a deer, surrounded by a high wall without any gaps in it, escape from his prison?« The sounds of fighting are getting louder, the battle is getting closer. Cries of victory proclaim the end of the war. Officer Ladinsky approaches. He clears up the situation between the two couples and knows the answer to the riddle: »The deer cannot escape!«

Saturday 04.07.2015

Further performances:
06.07.2015  | 09.07.2015  |
10.07.2015  | 12.07.2015  |
15.07.2015  | 16.07.2015  |


Nikolai Petersen
Beate Baron
Stage Designer
Yassu Yabara
Costume Designer
Gwendolyn Jenkins
Lighting Designer
Joachim Klein
Mareike Wink


Elizabeth Reiter / Jessica Strong*
Katharina Magiera
Sebastian Geyer


Anna Ryberg
Sebastian Geyer
Simon Bode
Philomene / Erzählerin
Katharina Magiera
Das Porträt / Erzähler
Thomas Faulkner*


Maren Favela
Hans, ihr verlobter
Sebastian Geyer
Der Bierbrauer
Thomas Faulkner*
Eva, seine Frau
Katharina Magiera
Der Lehrer
Simon Bode

Oper Frankfurt's Orchestra

* member of the Opera Studio

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