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Cristóbal Halffter’s Schachnovelle to Premiere at Theater Kiel

May. 01, 2013

Cristóbal Halffter’s <em>Schachnovelle</em> to Premiere at Theater Kiel

May 18 marks the world premiere of Cristóbal Halffter’s new opera, Schachnovelle. Presented by the Theater Kiel, the opera is performed by the Philharmonische Orchester Kiel under Georg Fritzsch, with stage direction by Daniel Karasek. Schachnovelle marks Halffter’s third opera to premiere at the Theater Kiel house following Don Quijote, in 2006, and Lázaro, in 2008.

Schachnovelle originates from the Stefan Zweig novel The Royal Game, and explores the theme of triumph over mental and external conflict through the game of chess. With a libretto written by Wolfgang Haendeler, Schachnovelle recounts the story of two gifted chess players who initially approach the game from two very different perspectives. Dr. Berger, a Nazi regime refugee, is pitted against Mirko Czentovic, a world-renowned chess prodigy. Halffter writes: 

The material expresses that everyone must fight – not always with weapons; there are other ways to fight. Berger fights for his ideals against violence. He fights the aggression that he experienced at the hands of the Nazis in Vienna. Czentovic is defined by another kind of playing. He becomes world champion, earns a lot of money, whereas his opponent plays the same game – but not for money. He fights for another purpose, against the power and oppression of the Nazi regime.

The production opens May 18 at the Kiel Opera House and performances continue through June 19.

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Cristóbal Halffter
Schachnovelle (2010-2012)
opera in one act
libretto (Ger.) by Wolfgang Haendeler based on the Stefan Zweig novel The Royal Game
for 4 sopranos, 2 altos, countertenor, 4 tenors, 6 baritones, 4 basses and SATB choir