The Soldiers at the Ruhr Triennal 2006

The composer Bernd Alois Zimmermann († 1970) wrote music history with his opera The Soldiers. Composed in 1960 and based on the drama by the "Sturm and Drang" poet Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz, the opera was considered "unperformable" for years until it fi

Its gigantic orchestral arrangement cannot fit into any of today's conventional orchestra pits. The extremely complex composition requires the highest degree of skill and concentration from musicians and singers alike. The protagonists and musicians are pulled into a musical-scenic spiral of time which culminates in the simultaneity of times, places and actions. This was how Zimmermann conceived his vision of the "spherical nature of time". He created his composition using collage and montage techniques which were not only applied to music, but also text and scenes. As the music and plot become ever more intertwined, an apocalyptic vision unfolds - The Soldiers is musical theatre at its most absolute. This opera poses an incredible challenge for musical theatre; any average opera house would not have the capacity to adequately stage it. For this reason, there are relatively few opera houses that include The Soldiers in their programmes.

The Ruhr Triennial 2006 will present The Soldiers as an international project in the "Century Hall" (Jahrhunderthalle) in Bochum. Because of its gigantic dimensions, the venue seems predestined for this enormous musical drama whose complexity could never be sufficiently portrayed in a conventional theatre situation.