When Friedrich Rückert’s children died of scarlet fever in 1834, he tried to come to terms with this tragedy in a way that is unparalleled in literary history: He left behind a series of 563 poems in which he mourned – and tried to cope with – the children’s death every single day.
Gustav Mahler set five of these so-called “Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the Death of Children)” to music between the years 1901 and 1904 – addressing a subject that has remained a major social taboo to this day.
Later, when Mahler was compelled to mourn the death of his own daughter Anna-Maria in 1907, his wife Alma reproached him for these compositions: “I can understand that someone who has no children of their own or has lost children might compose such terrible texts. But I cannot understand how one can sing about the death of children when you have hugged and kissed them half an hour earlier, happy and healthy!”
Each in their own way, Rückert and Mahler created both emotionally touching and highly concentrated works in their form and aesthetics. Be it as an attempt at overcoming and processing grief through art or be it as an artful lied
This production will explore the impact of these songs, their secrets, their connection with society then and now – in an encounter between experts from the field of research, medicine, musicology and musical practice.
Enrico Lübbe has been Schauspiel Leipzig’s artistic director since 2013. In his works here, he has repeatedly combined drama and music, for instance in “Die Maßnahme / Die Perser” (Brecht & Eisler / Aeschylus) or in “Winterreise / Winterreise” based on Wilhelm Müller & Franz Schubert and Elfriede Jelinek. Beside his productions at the Schauspielhaus, he has created several works of musical theatre, most recently Strauss’ “Electra” at Oper Bonn and Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” at Oper Leipzig.
The Leipzig-based musician Philip Frischkorn will take on the musical direction and create the musical concept of “563”. He previously contributed to the musical and choral staging of “Winterreise / Winterreise”
and most recently created the musical design of Enrico Lübbe’s production of “Das kalte Herz