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Opera in three acts.
Libretto by Ingeborg Bachmann after Heinrich von Kleist.
First performed May 22 1960, Hamburg State Opera. Revised, 1991, edition.
Performed in German with German & English surtitles
Introductory talks, in German, in the Holzfoyer half an hour before performances begin
A guide for courage and human kindness and against obeying laws without thinking. Fehrbellin, 1675: Prince Friedrich von Homburg has a dream in which he is the victor in an imminent battle and is laughed at by everybody. Before the real battle begins the order goes out that nobody should start fighting until the electoral prince Kurfürsten gives the order. Homburg, without permission, launches an attack. He is arrested for insubordination and sentenced to death. The electoral prince's niece Natalie, who is in love with the prince, begs her uncle for mercy. He finally agrees to pardon Homburg, if the condemned man finds the judge's sentence unjust … Hans Werner Henze and Ingeborg Bachmann, who met in 1952 at a Gruppe 47 meeting and worked together for many years, developed their own take on Kleist's play (first performed in 1821), shifting the focus from the military to the humane. The music – written for a large chamber orchestra – places two spheres opposite each other: the singable and traditional bound up with a world of dreams, which dances curiously out of focus, and through constructed, twelve tone and serial music.