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Kurt Weill's Der Silbersee in Mannheim: A Timeless Work Plays in a Unique Space

Dec. 19, 2023

Kurt Weill's <em>Der Silbersee</em> in Mannheim: A Timeless Work Plays in a Unique Space

By no means does music theater require a traditional auditorium to come to life. A new production of Kurt Weill and Georg Kaiser's Der Silbersee by Nationaltheater Mannheim proves this point once again. When the doll manufacturer Schildkröt moved from Mannheim to Thuringia in 1993, it left behind a complex of factory buildings in need of a new purpose. The long narrow structure that previously held boiler works was converted into a space for theater. Director Calixto Bieito and scenic designer Anna-Sofia Kirsch have taken the opportunity afforded by the building’s unusual dimensions to envision Weill’s 1933 opera-play hybrid in a fresh configuration, with the action taking place in close-up proximity to the audience. In contrast to productions that emphasize the work’s origin at the moment when National Socialists seized power in Germany, Bieito’s staging plays down this temporal specificity. 

Featured on the Südwestrundfunk Kultur program, the director commented:

“Ultimately, it is a timeless piece because the social problems it deals with are still with us. I did not want to make a direct connection to our current situation with major social and economic problems, but of course, there are connections.”

Writing in the Mannheimer Morgen, reviewer Stefan Dettlinger enthused that with this production of Der Silbersee, “the opera at the Nationaltheater Mannheim has landed a full-fledged hit.” Dettlinger singled out music director Jürgen Goriup and the musicians of the orchestra for their skillful shifting “between spoken and musical theater, between more serious and entertaining music.” The production will continue until January 6.

Trailer | Die Silbersee at Nationaltheater Mannheim