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La Damoiselle élue / Jeanne d`Arc au bûcher

Claude Debussy 1862-1918
Arthur Honegger 1892-1955

Poème lyrique. Libretto by Dante Gabriel Rosetti (translated into French by Gabriel Sarrazin, 1850)
First performed April 8th 1893, Société national de musique, Paris
First ever performance in Frankfurt

Dramatic oratorio. Libretto by Paul Claudel
1st performed (in concert) May 12th 1938, Großer Musik-Saal, Basel
1st staged performance (in German) June 13th 1942, Stadttheater, Zurich

A co-production with the Teatro Real Madrid
Performed in French with German surtitles 
c. 2 hrs with no interval
an introductory talk, in German, begins in the upstairs foyer 30 minutes before every performance  

The Chosen One Elizabeth Reiter
Narrator Katharina Magiera

Jeanne d'Arc Marion Cotillard
Brother Dominique NN
The Blessed Virgin Kateryna Kasper
St. Margaret Elizabeth Reiter
St. Catherine Katharina Magiera
Porcus, Herald, Scribe Peter Marsh
A Voice, Herald, Farmer Dietrich Volle / Barnaby Rea

Two contrasting works which have never been performed together before: Debussy's cantata about a young dead woman looking down from heaven at her sleeping lover, aching with nostalgia about their lost happiness, is followed by Honegger's oratorio about the Maid of Orléans, in which historical facts and theatre symbolism combine to produce a vivid portrait of France's national heroine in the hours before her death. Claude Debussy wrote his delightful early work for two female singers, female chorus and orchestra in 1889, when he was completely under Richard Wagner's spell. Distant echos of Kundry and the Flower Maidens can be heard. He managed to encapsulate a moment of sensuous strength and tender melancholic mourning. The poem he set to music was written in 1850 by the English painter and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who later painted the »Blessed Damozel« on her heavenly throne. The French translation by Gabriel Sarrazin (1883) breathes the spirits of Baudelaire, Verlaine and Mallarmé, Debussy's main sources of inspiration.

The Swiss composer Arthur Honegger collaborated with the French dramatist Paul Claudel in 1934 to write an oratorio about Jeanne d'Arc. After early hesitations it was a vision which inspired Claudel to develop his own view of the the Maid of Orléans, burned as heretic in Rouen in 1431 and canonized by the Pope in 1920. The main roles are partly sung, partly spoken. Incredible scenes alternate with powerful choruses and the moving dialogue between Jeanne and the monk Dominique, while she relives her life for the last time at the stake. The Catalan theatre maker Àlex Ollé, member of the board of directors of the La Fura dels Baus, famous for their circus spectaculars, is directing at Oper Frankfurt for the first time.

La Damoiselle élue – The Chosen One The chosen one, leaning out from the gold bar of Heaven, looks down upon her beloved on earth. Surrounded by lovers newly united, she longs for the moment when he can join her in Heaven. Then, with the Virgin Mary as her advocate, she will beg Jesus Christ to allow her to be united, as was granted them for only such a short time on earth, with her lover for eternity. Will it come to pass?
Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher – Joan of Arc at the Stake France during the Hundred Years' War: a fractured, desolate land, half occupied by English forces. Deliverance is brought by a young country girl from the village of Domrémy: Joan of Arc. We see her at the stake, after the Inquisition in Rouen found her guilty of heresy, in the moments before she is engulfed by flames. Brother Dominic has come down from Heaven with a book which tells her story, including the injustices perpertrated against her by his fellow Dominicans and religious scholars at the Sorbonne. Joan asks him to explain how things could have gone so far? Stations in her life flash before her eyes. She remembers the biting smoke and heat of the fire; the galvanized crowds calling out for her to be killed as a witch and relapsed heretic. She relives her trial; it was animals, not people, who tried her: Bishop Cauchon, the pig (Porcus), sits in judgement, the clerk of the court is a donkey, the assessors, sheep. They twist Joan's statements with their dog Latin, in order to condemn her. She remembers her arrest and being handed over to the English. Brother Dominic demonstrates the intrigues of political power and vices of rulers with an absurd card game, in which nobody loses, except Joan. Memories take Joan further back: to when, guided by her voices, she led the king through woods thick with snow to his coronation in Reims. Thanks to Joan the north of France, the granary (symbolised by the Wind Mill), and south, the vineyards (personified by Mother Wine Cask) are reunited. She remembers her childhood in the Lorraine, when she heard voices for the first time: St. Catherine and St. Margaret told her to go to war with standard and sword and liberate France. Now Brother Dominic asks Joan to explain everything, but she says that only little girls from the Lorraine, who sang the Trimazô song, would understand. The circle closes: the Virgin Mary gives Joan the strength to bear her martyrdom at the stake. Brother Dominic has vanished. When a priest promises her mercy if she recants, she refuses. So she becomes one of the candles offered to the Virgin Mary in the children's song Trimazô. Joan dies, accompanied by her saints, in the name of hope, happiness, love and an unwavering belief in God. (A prologue and 11  scenes: Voices from Heaven / The Book /Voices from Earth / Joan at the mercy of the Beasts  / Joan at the Stake / The Kings - The Invention of the Card Game / St. Catherine & St. Margaret / The King Sets out for Reims / Joan’s Sword / Trimazô / Joan of Arc is consumed by flames)

11th June 2017
6:00 pm
Opera House
Ticket Prices


Marc Soustrot
Àlex Ollé (La Fura dels Baus)
Director's Assistant
Susana Gómez
Set Designer
Alfons Flores
Costume Designer
Lluc Castells
Lighting Designer
Joachim Klein
Franc Aleu
Chorus & Extra Chorus Master
Tilman Michael
Children's Chorus Master
Markus Ehmann
Konrad Kuhn

La Damoiselle élue

The Chosen One
Elizabeth Reiter
Katharina Magiera

Jeanne d`Arc au bûcher

Jeanne d'Arc
Johanna Wokalek
Brother Dominique
Sébastien Dutrieux
The Blessed Virgin
Elizabeth Sutphen *
St. Margaret
Elizabeth Reiter
St. Catherine
Katharina Magiera
Pig (Porcus), Herald, Scribe
Peter Marsh
A Voice, Herald
Dietrich Volle
Donkey, Herald, Farmer, Cleric
Étienne Gillig
Master of Ceremonies, Bedford
Cédric Chayrouse
Herald, Perrot, Priest
Konstantin Bühler
Jean de Luxembourg
Julia Katharina Heße
Regnault de Chartres
Florian Richter
Guillaume de Flavy
Roberto Cassani
Wind Mill
Pere Llompart
Mother Wine Cask
Christiane Gänßler

Oper Frankfurt's Chorus, Extra Chorus & Children's Chorus
Frankfurter Opern- und Museumsorchester

* Member of the Opera Studio