Winterreise / Winterreise

by Wilhelm Müller & Franz Schubert / Elfriede Jelinek
It’s over. A love-story has come to its end, life is over. At least that is what it feels like to the first-person narrator in “Winterreise”, who has to leave the city and his or her former life in a great hurry. Whether this escape is voluntary or forced is never made quite clear. Only one thing is evident: What was a love and a future only moments ago has ended overnight, as it were. Rage alternates with helplessness and memory. And another thing is clear: It is winter. Both externally, in nature, and internally, within the soul.

Franz Schubert’s lied cycle “Winterreise, in which he put Wilhelm Müller’s poems from 1824 to music in 1827, is an equally existential and subjective exploration of a shattered existence. Generations of – mainly male, but more and more female – singers have created their own interpretations of this cycle. And in 2011, Elfriede Jelinek re-examined the cosmos of “Winterreise”, bringing it into our present times. In one of her most quiet and poetic works, using Wilhelm Müller’s texts as guides, she wanders through the stages of longing in our contemporary world.

Jelinek’s “Winterreise” leads us through a society that conducts its public dealings in the market place of social medal, where falling in and out of love occurs on digital portals like Tinder, Grindr &
co. Her text talks about wanting to be alone and having to be alone, about a remote-controlled uprootedness and the self-determined decision to withdraw from the world because its community causes too much discomfort.

Jelinek’s “Winterreise” is no longer the experience of only a single first-person narrator: The text is full of different voices, above all her own. But in a great confusion of voices, every individual can still search in vain for an emotional echo. We no longer have to run through cold, wintery forests to experience this – all we need is a smart phone and a flat-rate payment plan.

Schauspiel Leipzig brings both versions of “Winterreise” together and interweaves them with each other. Following “Rechnitz (Der Würgeengel), “Die Schutzflehenden / Die Schutzbefohlenen” and “Wolken.Heim”, artistic director Enrico Lübbe continues his exploration of the work of Elfriede Jelinek, the most important contemporary dramatist and laureate of the 2004 Nobel Prize for Literature. The production’s musical director, Jürg Kienberger, is one of the most influential theatre musicians of recent years and has greatly contributed to works by Christoph Marthaler, Corinna von Rad or Barbara Frey. He can work magic with both music and silence and will interpret Schubert’s “Winterreise” with instruments ranging from the piano to the glass harp.

The set will be designed by Etienne Pluss, who received the German Theatre Award “Der Faust” for the best set design in 2019, and the costumes will be created by Bianca Deigner. Together with Enrico Lübbe, they both developed productions including “Der Gott des Gemetzels”, “Der nackte Wahnsinn” and most recently “Mein Freund Harvey” at Schauspiel Leipzig as well as Alban Berg’s “Wozzeck” in Erfurt and Richard Strauss’ “Elektra” at Oper Bonn.
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Director: Enrico Lübbe
Stage Designer: Etienne Pluss
Costume Designer: Bianca Deigner
Musical Direction: Jürg Kienberger
Repetition and stage music: Franziska Kuba, Philip Frischkorn
Dramaturg: Torsten Buß
Light: Ralf Riechert
Theatre pedagogy: Babette Büchele