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Aribert Reimann 1936—2024

Opera in 4 acts
Text by Claus H. Henneberg after Yvan Goll
First performed April 29 1971, Schlosstheater, Schwetzingen

Sung in German with German surtitles

Introductory talks (in German) begin 30 mins before curtain up in the Bockenheimer Depot and appear here shortly after opening night

A young woman takes a stand against the destruction of nature. But her determination founders because of the most human emotion of all: Love.

Melusine suffers under her narrow-minded husband and her mother’s inverted snobbery. The young woman finds an alternative world in a wild, overgrown park, in which Pythia, »Queen of the Willows«, rules. Pythia spurs Melusine into action when the park’s destined to make way for a castle. Given a fish tail, thereby making her irresistible, Melusine seduces lots of workmen, but can’t save the park. When the castle’s opened Melusine falls in love with the owner, the Graf von Lusignan. Pythia swears to avenge Melusine’s betrayal.

A determined creature who comes from water - many versions of Melusine have emerged down the ages. In the early 1920s the French dramatist Yvan Goll set the myth in a capitalist world, dissecting its double morals with razor-sharp ruthlessness. Aribert Reimann highlighted the grotesque and poetic elements in the text. He starts depicting the title figure as a tireless idealist, who only has one weapon at her disposal in her fight against rampant indifference: the beauty of coloratura. She only relaxes audibly when she meets the Graf von Lusignan. But their elegiac utopia of love is deceptive: It ends with apocalyptic soundscapes heralding a natural catastrophe which will sweep more than Melusine and the Graf into the abyss.