May 19, 2000
Composer:Ann Karen Gebuhr
Librettist:Robert HattenRobert S. Hatten
The opera enacts the passion and faith of the Lutheran Pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was involved in the plot to assassinate Hitler. The libretto focuses on his struggle as a pacifist and Christian to justify violent action against Hitler and the state. Bonhoeffer's character is revealed through the prism of his relationships with his fiancée Maria von Wedemeyer, his friend and student Eberhard Bethge, and his co-conspirator and brother-in-law Hans von Dohnanyi. After a prologue in prison, dream sequences recreate intensely formative personal experiences preceding Bonhoeffer's arrest by the Gestapo (he was serving as an intelligence agent for the Abwehr and involved in Operation Seven, a mission that helped fourteen Jews escape to Switzerland). Reality scenes in the second act recount Bonhoeffer's confrontation between his faith and his patriotism amid pressures placed on his personal relationships through suffering, torture, and interrogation in prison. The opera concludes with a portrayal of his final pastoral act just before being hanged at the direct order of Hitler for his role in the assassination conspiracy.

Title Information

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Approximate Runtime (hh:mm)

Number of Acts

Musical Style
Accessible style with enormous range; fluent transitions from expressionistic atonality and brutal rhythmic violence to serene consonances

Vocal & Musical Forces
5 principal roles (Bonhoeffer, dramatic baritone; Maria, soprano; Eberhard, tenor; Hans, baritone; Interrogator/Figure, tenor), 4 secondary roles (SMTB); chorus; non-singing extras. Orchestra: string orchestra with solo flute, oboe, trumpet, piano, and 2 percussionists

Original Cast
Douglas Yates (Dietrich); Dalma Boronkai (Maria); Russ Clark (Eberhard); Joshua Wilson (Hans); Noelle Ferrada/Rachel Castillo (Christel); Lauren Thompson (Paula); Matthew Parker (Karl); Craig Davis (Guard)

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