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Roman Haubenstock-Ramati's Opera, Amerika, Performed at the Zürich Opera House

Mar. 06, 2024

This month, director Sebastian Baumgarten and conductor Gabriel Feltz lead a new production of Roman Haubenstock-Ramati's opera, Amerika at the Zürich Opera House. The production opened on March 3 and runs through April 13.

The Zürich Opera notes:

"Franz Kafka’s novel fragment Amerika, written at the beginning of the 20th century, anticipated the great crises of modernity. Left unfinished, it tells the story of Karl Rossmann's nightmarish journey through life to America, with its great promises of happiness. But it soon proves to be a land of absurd constraints and impossibilities. As if by chance, Karl encounters seemingly caring relatives, overbearing wives, conniving criminals, and authoritarian superiors, and falls deeper and deeper into a cycle of hope, dependence, exploitation, and repudiation. Karl is "The Lost One" of Kafka’s original title.

Roman Haubenstock-Ramati was a musician of Polish-Israeli descent who lived in Vienna as a music editor and composition teacher after Kafkaesque periods of flight and exile. His magnum opus is a work of music theater based on Kafka's Amerika, first performed in Berlin in 1966, which enjoys legendary status. The opera has only been performed twice since its premiere, but in its form of a bold musical theater sketch remains one of the landmarks of opera composition in the 20th century. Amerika combines compositional precision with great freedom of form. In Haubenstock-Ramati’s work, the stations of Kafka’s novel combine to form breathtaking mobiles of sound, image, action and light, with the auditorium likewise integrated into the performance through the use of sound projections."

Trailer/Amerika/Opernhaus Zürich

To learn more about Roman Haubenstock-Ramati, visit

Roman Haubenstock-Ramati
Amerika (1962)
an opera in two acts
libretto by Roman Haubenstock-Ramati 
based on the original text by Franz Kafka
translation by Max Brod