FROM THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD
Bayerische Staatsoper, May 26, 2018
From the House of Dead
Duration est. 1 hours 40 minutes
Aleksandr Petrovic Gorjancikov: Peter Rose
Aljeja, ein junger Tartar / a young Tartar: Evgeniya Sotnikova
Luka (Filka Morozov, im Gefängnis unter dem Namen Luka Kuzmic): Ales Briscein
Skuratov: Charles Workman
Siskov: Bo Skovhus
Großer Sträfling / Sträfling mit dem Adler / Big Prisoner: Manuel Günther
Kleiner Sträfling / Verbitterter Sträfling / Small Prisoner: Tim Kuypers
Platzkommandant / Prison Governor: Christian Rieger
Der alte Sträfling / Old Prisoner: Ulrich Reß
Cekunov: Johannes Kammler
Betrunkener Sträfling / Drunken Prisoner: Galeano Salas
Koch (Sträfling) / Cook (a prisoner): Boris Prygl
Schmied (Sträfling) / Blacksmith (a prisoner): Alexander Milev
Pope / Priest: Peter Lobert
Dirne / A Prostitute: Niamh OSullivan
Don Juan (Brahmane): Callum Thorpe
Kedril / Schauspieler / Junger Sträfling / Actor (young prisoner): Matthew Grills
Sapkin / Fröhlicher Sträfling / Happy Prisoner: Kevin Conners
Cerevin / Stimme aus der kirgisischen Steppe / Voice of the kirghiz Steppe: Dean Power
Wache / Guard: Long Long
Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper
Production: Frank Castorf
Sets: Aleksandar Denic
Costumes: Adriana Braga Peretzki
Lighting concept: Rainer Casper
Video: Andreas Deinert, Jens Crull
Dramaturgy: Miron Hakenbeck
Choir: Soren Eckhoff
From the House of the Dead
A penal camp in Siberia. A day like every other. Two prisoners cross each other, exchange
insults and throw punches. The news spreads quickly here; a nobleman will begin his sentence
The incomer, Alexandr Petrovic Gorjancikov, feels the brutality of the camp commander upon
his arrival. Upon replying to the provocation that he is no vagrant but a political prisoner, he is
ordered to receive one hundred lashes.
A conflict about an injured eagle that lives amongst the prisoner breaks out. Will it die in the
camp, or will it recover and be able to fly again? Can an animal adapt to life in captivity like a
human? This wild and unruly bird allows the inmates to dream of freedom, even if only for a
moment. Then, they are forced back to work by the guards.
The one named Skuratov, whom they all regard as a fool, sings and dances and speaks about
his life in Moscow. Although his fragmented memories seem to make no sense, they do provide
some light relief. Only the aggressive Luka is disgusted by Skuratovs behaviour. Luka tells of
how he once in a prison stood up to the arbitrariness of a major who regarded himself as
omnipotent and how he stabbed him in the stomach with a knife. As Luka explains how the
resulting punishment almost left him for dead, Gorjancikov is brought back from his lashing.
A few months later. The prisoners are working outdoors. Gorjancikov befriends the young Tatar
Aljeja and promises to teach him to read and write. The church bells ring in a holiday, allowing
the inmates to leave their work and assemble for a feast.
Skuratov tells of how love led him to the camp. As a simple soldier, he met a certain Lujza. She
spoke often of marriage, but their liaisons soon came to an end. An older and richer relative
wanted to take Lujza for his wife, and she did not want to refuse the opportunity of materialistic
happiness. Skuratov tried in vain to forget his lover. Uninvited, he visited the bridal couple and
shot Lujzas groom in the head.
After dinner, the prisoners stage some plays. Two comedy pieces full of erotic innuendos are
performed: An opera about Kedril, Don Juans servant, who delivers various women to his
master and serves him his food. When the devils take his master, Kedril is able to enjoy the
women and the food for himself. Then follows the pantomime The Miller's Beautiful Wife, in
which a woman receives numerous men at once and must hide them from her man as he
unexpectedly returns home from work early.
After the performances, Aljeja und Gorjancikov drink tea together. Unintentionally, their
intimate get-together provokes the jealousy of some of the other prisoners who are looking for
trouble. Indignantly they reproach them for seeming privileged. A particularly embittered
prisoner attacks Gorjancikov and Aljeja, injuring Aljeja badly.
Night in the camp hospital. Aljeja is recovering from his injuries. Running a fever, he talks of
the miracles of Jesus, which he was able to read about in the bible thanks to Gorjancikovs
teaching. Other inmates moan with pain. An old believer prays. Luka is seriously ill and close to
apkin remembers the great pain that was inflicted upon him. After being arrested for burglary,
a policeman almost ripped off his ear during questioning.
ikov tells another how he has landed in prison. A certain Filka Morozov ruined his life. This
Filka destroyed the reputation of a merchants daughter in his village, whereby he announced
to everyone that he had slept with her on many occasions. Leaving the dishonoured Akulina
with no hope of a marriage befitting her standing, she was beaten by her family and then
married to the destitute ikov. On their wedding night, it transpired that she was indeed still a
virgin. ikov wanted to avenge Akulinas defamation by Filka but, upon reflection, how could
he have noticed that the bride was a virgin when he was so drunk at the wedding? As Filka
rejoined the army and bade Akulina farewell, Akulina could not hide her affection for him.
ikov felt betrayed. The next day, he went into the woods with his wife and slit her throat.
While ikov tells the story of Akulinas brutal end, Luka dies. ikov recognises his rival Filka
as the dead Luka. Without knowing it, they lived next to each other in the camp. He spits in the
corpses face and the old believer blesses the deceased. The guard pulls him away.
Gorjancikov is called to appeal.
The prison governor begs Gorjancikov for forgiveness for the baseless beating on the day of
his arrival, but hidden behind the apparently friendly words are new insults. The governor
grudgingly notifies Gorjancikov that he has been pardoned and will be released. The chains
are removed from the prisoner. He bids Aljeja farewell and steps out into his new life. The
others inmates release the eagle. Will it fly? Aljeja stays back, alone. The guard forces the
prisoners back to work, just like every other day.
Click below for a preview.