Cristóbal Halffter's new opera: Schachnovelle

Reading time: 1 min. Cristóbal Halffter

Video language: German with English subtitles

Cristóbal Halffter has composed a new work for Kiel Opera: Schachnovelle, a story about chess, resistance, madness and self-discovery. The libretto is by Wolfgang Haendeler, after Stefan Zweig’s novella.

Halffter’s Don Quijote had its German premiere in Kiel in 2006 where, in summer 2008, the opera house’s 100th season climaxed with the world premiere of his Lázaro; now the cooperation between Halffter and Kiel Opera is crowned with the world première of Schachnovelle on 18/5/2013.

The story: Czentovic and Dr. Berger are chess players who could not be more different from each other. One of them can only play when he has the chess board and the pieces directly before his eyes, whereas the game saves the other man from Nazi persecution, even if it only happens in his mind, against himself and drives him to the brink of madness. The two players meet in New York on a passenger ship, and a decisive “match” ensues – materialism versus idealism. Although a formal error ends the game in a draw, Dr. Berger wins something else …

Translation: Grant Chorley

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