Top Five Questions About Die tote Stadt (The Dead City)
By: Jennifer Colgan
Every season, Opera Colorado aims to present works that are new and exciting to our audiences, along with favorites like this spring’s Turandot. This season’s rare gem is truly extraordinary—a brand-new production of Die tote Stadt (The Dead City). While this title is familiar to some of our aficionados, it’s unknown to many music lovers. We’re here to unlock some of the mystery behind Korngold’s masterpiece by sharing the top questions about Die tote Stadt we’re hearing from opera fans like you.
Question #1 about Die tote Stadt: Is this a “contemporary” opera?
Some people hear the relatively unfamiliar name of Korngold or learn that the opera was written in the twentieth century and think that it will be too “contemporary” for their taste. However, you’ll find this opera premiered in the same era as the great twentieth-century works of Puccini (Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot). It has all the lush and emotionally expressive music as the other operas you love from the same time period.
Question #2 about Die tote Stadt: What does the music sound like?
This is one of the most common questions we get, and we are always thrilled to introduce our patrons to Korngold’s beautiful music. We guarantee you will fall in love the sumptuous score of Die tote Stadt. It features all the drama and sweeping melodies you would expect from an Oscar-nominated film score composer. One of our favorite arias is “Gluck, das mir verblieb,” which you can listen to at the link below. More examples of the music of Die tote Stadt can be found on our blog.
Question #3 about Die tote Stadt: What’s the story?
Not only does Die tote Stadt feature beautiful music, but a compelling storyline to match. In a nutshell, we meet Paul—an artist who has been torn apart by grief over the death of his wife, Marie. His mind starts playing tricks on him when he meets Marietta, who is basically her look-alike. If you want to know more about the story, check out our blogs on the plot and characters.
Question #4 about Die tote Stadt: What do the new sets and costumes look like?
Opera Colorado has enlisted prolific designer Robert Perdziola to create the world of Die tote Stadt. He is no stranger to the stages of some of the biggest theatres in the world. Perdziola has designed for the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, American Ballet Theater, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and Glimmerglass Opera. His costume designs reflect all the elegance and opulence you’d expect from 1890s fashion. The gorgeous sets walk the line between reality and fantasy, all while incorporating elements of the city Bruges. See a gallery of the set and costume designs here.
#5 Question about Die tote Stadt: Who is in the cast?
Tenor Jonathan Burton, praised as an “engaging all-around singer with a powerful, full-bodied sound” by Opera News, returns to Opera Colorado as the anguished artist Paul. You may remember him from our 2016 production of La fanciulla del West. In her company debut, soprano Sara Gartland plays the dual roles of Marie, Paul’s late wife, and Marietta, a dancer and Marie’s mysterious doppelganger. Opera News calls Ms. Garland “exquisite…[she] retains a thread of silver that graces her sound with an ethereal shimmer.”
Baritone Daniel Belcher, an Opera Colorado favorite and voice teacher for our Artists in Residence, also returns. He will play both Frank, an old friend of Paul’s, and Fritz, the Pierrot of Marietta’s troupe. Betsy Bishop (Brigitte, Paul’s housekeeper) and Jonathan Johnson (Victorin and Gastone) complete the cast.
What other questions do you have about Die tote Stadt? Let us know in the comments below.