Zauberland, a new dramatic work with text by Heinrich Heine and Martin Crimp and music by Robert Schumann and Bernard Foccroulle, puts the refugee crisis centre-stage in the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre. As the Middle East blazes in conflict, a young woman waits at a European border, hoping to cross over to Zauberland – a magic land of peace and security. But when she falls asleep, she dreams of the burnt-out city she has been forced to leave behind. Violence and peace clash in this vibrant re-imagination of Schumann’s Dichterliebe, which shows how the themes of love and loss explored by the 19th-century Romantics remain relevant in today’s conflicted society.
Zauberland marks The Royal Opera’s third collaboration with director Katie Mitchell and writer Martin Crimp, the director and librettist respectively for George Benjamin’s Written on Skin and Lessons in Love and Violence on the main stage. This is their first work for the Linbury Theatre. The score combines Schumann’s Dichterliebe with new music by Belgian organist, conductor, director and composer Bernard Foccroulle, former artistic director of Aix-en-Provence Festival, who has written 16 new songs for the production, all to poems by Crimp. Mitchell’s thoughtful and nostalgic production highlights the contemporary refugee crisis, brought powerfully to life by performers including American soprano Julia Bullock and French pianist Cédric Tiberghien.
Zauberland received its premiere at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris on 5 April 2019. This production is a co-production between the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, The Royal Opera, Opéra de Lille, Opéra de Rouen Normandie, La Monnaie, Brussels, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New York, and the University Musical Society of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Zauberland opens on 15 October 2019 at 8pm in the Linbury Theatre at the Royal Opera House, with subsequent performances on 16 and 18 October. This production is new to The Royal Opera.