This is your personal “My Opera” area. This is where you can update your private details, profile settings and password and/or log out.

Your applications in the administrative / editorial area

Chamber Music IV: Pierrot Lunaire

Chamber music in an unconventional atmosphere
Mon 04.03.2019 - 20:00 h
€ 16,– / concs.: € 8,–*

*) All those eligible to pay reduced prices (concessions) can claim the discount rate as soon as tickets go on general sale. If purchasing online, please select the "ermäßigt" 'sale type' in the dropdown menu under the hall chart, after choosing your seat(s).

Informationen zum Werk

approx. 1 hour / no interval



Donald Runnicles

Stage Director

Teresa Reiber

Set design, Costume design

Mari-Liis Tigasson

About the performance

The title alone is a puzzle. Who or what is Schönberg’s “Pierrot lunaire”? A clown in the moonlight? Or a fantasist after all, a melancholic dreamer, someone affected by the lunar pull? And then there are the three blocks of seven poems themselves, selected by the composer for his Opus 21, with perspectives, characters and narrators overlapping and interweaving in the moonlight: the dandy, Columbine, the Madonna as Our Lady of Sorrows, Pierrot… characters from commedia dellʾ arte and a florid, fin de siècle welter of images.

Although normally reluctant to take on “commissioned works”, Schönberg embraced wholeheartedly a request from elocutionist and actress Albertine Zehme in 1912 that he compose a cycle based on poems from Albert Giraud’s “Pierrot lunaire”. Having been charmed by Otto Erich Hartleben’s rendition of the poems in German, Schönberg glimpsed opportunities for new forms of expression. With the consent of his client he kept building on the piano accompaniment that he had initially envisaged. Flute, piccolo, violin, viola, clarinet and bass clarinet can all be heard, alone and in ever changing combinations, with each separate poem accorded its own musical texture. Not until the “old fragrance” of Number 21 pervades the space do the musical shades converge in a hint of tonality from a bygone age. And as the cycle progresses, we are witness to similarly subtle echoes of old musical forms and configurations of movements (including the barcarola, passacaglia, round and waltz) and fragments from old masters of the likes of Bach and Wagner. Musical tradition dances here in the prism of a moonlight refracting the identities of the new musical modernism. For Albertine Zehme herself Schönberg came up with his own form of elocution in keeping with the tradition of classical melodrama – neither singing nor a natural, realistic raconteur style but rather a contrived way of speaking at fixed pitches and with fixed tonal lengths: precise, dramatic, sober and masterful.

In the programme accompanying the premiere the composer’s preface could have come from the mouth of moonstruck Pierrot himself. Introducing the 21 poems, he offered a variation on a quote from Novalis’s “Fragment on Absolute Poetry”: “A narrative may lack a context but still be a work of association, akin to a dream. It may be a poem that is easy on the ear and prettily written but free of cognitive meaning or connection, with at most one or two comprehensible verses, like fragments of disparate objects. This true poetry, affecting the listener obliquely, can only be fathomed on an allegorical level.”

For the musicians of the orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, their series of chamber-music sessions is a wish come true. Taking their inspiration from key operas on the programme, they put together concert programmes linked to works that they hold particularly dearly. They are assisted in the project not only by singers from the ensemble but also by guests from outside.

Arnold Schönberg [1874 – 1951]
Pierrot Lunaire, Three times Seven Poems, op. 21, from Albert Giraud’s “Pierrot lunaire”, French original translated into German by Otto Erich Hartleben

*** I. TEIL ***
1. Mondestrunken
2. Colombine
3. Der Dandy
4. Eine blasse Wäscherin
5. Valse de Chopin
6. Madonna
7. Der kranke Mond

*** II. TEIL ***
8. Nacht
9. Gebet an Pierrot
10. Raub
11. Rote Messe
12. Galgenlied
13. Enthauptung
14. Die Kreuze

*** III. TEIL ***
15. Heimweh
16. Gemeinheit
17. Parodie
18. Der Mondfleck
19. Serenade
20. Heimfahrt
21. O alter Duft

Our Sponsors

Presented by taz.die Tageszeitung