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


Songs of Expulsion and Never Returning

Bernhard Gander (*1969)

Informationen Zum Werk

Musical theatre by Bernhard Gander (*1969)
Libretto by Serhiy Zhadan (*1974)

Premiere in the Tischlerei of the Deutsche Oper Berlin on 21 May 2022

recommended from 14 years

In German with German surtitles

120 minutes / no interval



Elda Laro

Stage director

Alize Zandwijk

Set design

Theun Mosk

Musicians of

Ensemble Modern


Hugo Queirós


Ueli Wiget


Sven Pollkötter

Double bass

Paul Cannon

About the performance

For this fourth coproduction by the Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Münchener Biennale, Austrian composer Bernhard Gander is scoring a libretto by Ukrainian writer Serhiy Zhadan to create a new opera with director Alize Zandwijk and soloists from the Ensemble Modern and Deutsche Oper Berlin. As a commissioned work by the Münchener Biennale, the content of Gander's and Zhadan's musical theatre is based on the theme of the upcoming festival: friendship. Friendship is where "kindred spirits meet on equal footing". Yet the expectations that friendship entails make it susceptible to great disappointment and hurt. This topic becomes especially critical when it comes to "friendships" between abstract entities such as states, nations or peoples. Whereas it was Old Europe, the USA and the Soviet Union who insisted on "friendship" with their neighbours over the past two hundred years, China has become increasingly involved in countries throughout Africa, while Russia's borders have been plagued by old and revitalised conflicts between and about "friends and relatives".

In their premiere Gander and Zhadan address the deeply complicated borders and boundaries of friendship that run between states that used to be firmly connected. Zhadan takes the existential challenges of the Russian-Ukrainian relationship as the starting point for his libretto. Using an exemplary border post situation, Zhadan's text deals with the dramatic effects of war, expulsion and flight on the human individual. The characters who appear here are confronted with the question of how to take a stance when the cultural, historical, political and personal relations are too complex and contradictory to make the "right" decision possible.

Bernhard Gander is an established composer in the New Music scene, but cannot be pinned to any particular genres. He breaks down boundaries and creates highly vivid and expressive works at the formal, sonic, gestic and energetic level by combining New Music and heavy metal. Gander's works have been performed at the Wiener Konzerthaus, the Wiener Festwochen, the steirischer herbst, Klangspuren, Transart Bozen, Donaueschinger Musiktagen, Wien modern, Musica Strasbourg, Wittener Tagen für neue Kammermusic and the Biennale München, among others. He is a recipient of the Musikförderungspreis by the Stadt Wien für Komposition 2004, the Erste-Bank-Kompositionspreis 2005, the SKE Publicity Preis 2009, and the Staatsstipendium für Komposition. Bernhard Gander won the Ernst-Křenek-Preis for "melting pot", which premiered at the Wiener Festwochen 2012.

Serhiy Zhadan, born in 1974 near Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, studied German Studies, wrote his doctorate on Ukrainian futurism, and has been one of the leading figures in the young scene in Kharkiv since 1991. He debuted at the age of 17, and has published twelve volumes of poetry and seven works of prose. Zhadan won the Jan-Michaelski-Literaturpreis and the Brücke-Berlin-Preis 2014 (along with Juri Durkot and Sabine Stöhr) for Voroshylovhrad. The BBC deemed it the "book of the decade". Zhadan lives in Kharkiv. His works are published by SUHRKAMP.

Theatre director Alize Zandwijk was, with Guy Cassiers, one of the artistic directors of Rotterdam's Ro Theatre starting in 1998. She has put on performances regularly in Germany since 2003, including at the Thalia Theater and Deutsches Theater Berlin. It was at the Theater Bremen that she debuted with Dea Loher's Life on the Praça Roosevelt during the 2012/13 season, followed by Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard and Arne Sierens' Boys and Girls. She has been the lead play director at the Theater Bremen since the 2016/17 season, and the works she has put on include Hauptmann's The Rats, Brecht's The Good Person of Szechwan, the transcendent dance evening Golden Heart and Amour, Tom Lanoye's Gas – Plea of a Convicted Mother, Tolstoy's Resurrection, and Mütter – Geschichten von Bremer Frauen aus aller Welt.

Our thanks to our partners

Co-production of the Munich Biennale with the Deutsche Oper Berlin



News about the schedule
and the start of advance booking
Personal recommendations
Special offers ...
Stay well informed!

Subscribe to our newsletter

Subscribe to our Newsletter and receive 25% off your next ticket purchase.

* Mandatory field