The "multimedia music theatre" Die Soldaten by Bernd Alois Zimmermann based on a text by Sturm and Drang poet Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz is the composer's only completed opera. It set new dimensions to the opera genre when it was first staged at Cologne in 1965. It has been called one of the chief works of modern music theatre in the 20th century.
This widely praised production which was the highlight of the Salzburg Festival in 2012 made full use of the width of the Salzburger Felsenreitschule to give room to the enormous dimensions of Zimmermann's monumental opera, featuring a massive ensemble of 170 musicians including the Wiener Philharmoniker and led by German conductor Ingo Metzmacher.
The Latvian Alvis Hermanis directed the rarely staged and tragic story of the downfall of the middle-class girl Marie in an expressive representation and achieves to realize Zimmerman's desired simultaneity skillfully.
The top-flight cast consisting of 50 soloists with Alfred Muff as Wesner and Laura Aikin as Marie received raved reviews by critics for their vocal and dramatical performance.
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