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Friedrich Cerha: Baal

  • Bühnenwerk in 2 Teilen (1974-1980)
  • 2 3 3 3 - 4 3 4 1, timp, perc(4), hp, acc, e-org, sax(2), guit, str(12 10 8 8 6); behind the scene: picc(2), cl(2), bass cl, alto sax, cbsn, jazz tpt, tbn, perc(1), acc, org, cb
  • Duration: 195’
  • Instrumentation details:
    flute (+picc)
    1st oboe
    2nd oboe
    3rd oboe (+c.a)
    1st clarinet in A
    2nd clarinet in A
    3rd clarinet in A
    soprano saxophone in Bb (+alto sax(Eb))
    alto saxophone in Eb (+t.sax(Bb))
    1st bassoon
    2nd bassoon
    1st horn in F
    2nd horn in F
    3rd horn in F
    4th horn in F
    1st trumpet in C
    2nd trumpet in C
    3rd trumpet in C (+flhn)
    1st trombone (
    2nd trombone
    3rd trombone
    4th trombone
    1st timpani
    2nd timpani
    1st percussion
    2nd percussion
    3rd percussion
    4th percussion
    5th percussion

    violin I(12)
    violin II(10)
    cont.aind the scene: 1st piccolo
    2nd piccolo
    1st clarinet in A
    2nd clarinet in A
    bass clarinet in Bb
    alto saxophone in Eb
    trumpet in Bb
  • Roles: Baal, baritone Ekart, bass Johannes, tenor Emilie, mezzo-soprano Johanna, soprano Sophie, soprano several small parts: soprano, alto, 2 tenors, 2 baritones, basses, 2 speaking parts
  • Composer: Friedrich Cerha
  • Librettist: Friedrich Cerha
  • Writer of pre-existing text: Bertolt Brecht
  • Commission: Bundesministerium für Unterricht und Kunst

Work introduction

Baal’s actual impulsion is the vital, ineradicable human longing for happiness, the search “for the land where living is better,” as he sings in his final song. He is seeking it here because he is “dependent on the terrestrial,” where he encounters limits of all kinds.

My choice of tools increasingly determines what I want to achieve. An alienating stylisation, detachment from the exposition of events, juxtaposition of levels ( … ) are the wrong tools here. What I want can only be attained by hints or clues of affinity. There can be no question of making Baal likeable, endearing – he will remain “unloved,” but he must also be “lovable” – accessible, in a way that makes the audience become part of what interests me – and the music, I hope, will help.

Friedrich Cerha


World première

Kleines Festspielhaus, Salzburg (AT)
Wiener Philharmoniker
Christoph von Dohnányi
Main soloists:
Theo Adam - Baal; Helmut Berger-Tuna - Ekart; Heiner Hopfner - Johannes; Marjana Lipovsek - Emilie; Gabriele Sima - Johanna; Emily Rawlins - Sophie; Silvia Herman - jüngere Schwester; Christine Kubelka - Altere Schwester; Martha Mödl - Baals Mutter

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