DIE TOTE STADT     1975      New York City Opera

An Opera by ERIC KORNGOLD based on the novel by GEORGES RODENBACH

(see BRUGES-LA-MORTE in FILM for feature film version)

This production reinforces the impression that Chase had worked out one of the most exciting developments in the history of operatic stage presentation. Everything has been designed to underline the emotional moods and fantasies passing through the mind of the opera's protagonist.... There can be little argument about the expertise with which the material is handled. This really is a new dimension in opera.

Die Tote Stadt opened at the New York City Opera on April 2, 1975. It has been one of the most critically successful productions of Corsaro and Chase's work in opera. It has been revived five time in the past thirty years, most recently in 2001 with new costumes and projections to replace the ones lost to the NYC Opera in a fire a decade before.

What did the audience see when the curtain rose? As the production opened on an exterior of Paul's House, a portrait of Marie began to shine through the masonry. Then the light came up behind the scrim in Paul's living room, with the portrait handing on the wall. Meanwhile, images rose and disappeared from the shadows, overlapped by fog. As Paul sang of his love for his dead wife the house seemed to break apart and disappear while his wife's death mask hovered in the air like an apparition. A long film sequence introduced the dark canals of Brugges and in the midst, Paul's boat could be seen, onstage, moving slowly across the water.