The curtain will rise for the first time in Dresden on 1 May 2016 for Hindemith‘s great opera Mathis der Maler (1934/35). The Australian Simone Young will conduct, with the bass-baritone Markus Marquardt singing the title role.
The Content of the Opera
Mathis, the successful painter, asks himself after a year of intensive work: „Have you fulfilled the task that God assigned to you? Is it enough, what you create? Is it not only for your own benefit?“ The peasant leader Schwalb and his daughter Regina look to him for protection from the army; he helps them to flee. Mathis asks his employer, the artistically-minded, luxury-loving Cardinal Albrecht, for his resignation in order to help the peasants in their struggle. Captain Capito with mercenaries breaks into the house of the Lutheran burgher Riedinger and confiscates his books. In addition, he conveys Luther‘s request to Albrecht to marry Riedinger‘s daughter Ursula in order to defuse the religious conflict. But she loves Mathis and wants to accompany him to the peasants. He refuses this, and she is resigned to her fate. The Lutheran books are meanwhile being burned as heretical writings. Mathis soon realises the futility of his partisanship for the peasants: they are not willing to renounce behaving just as gruesomely and immorally as their lords. The peasant leader Schwalb is killed in a battle between the national army and the peasants. Mathis takes in his orphaned daughter Regina. Impressed by the strength of Ursula‘s religious faith, Cardinal Albrecht turns his back on all riches and excess in order to become a hermit; Ursula places herself at the service of the community. In a vision, Mathis sees himself as St. Anthony being tortured by demons. Companions appear to him as symbols of wealth, power, sensuality, renunciation and wisdom. In the form of St. Paul, Cardinal Albrecht finally leads him back to art: „Go and paint!“ Some time later: Mathis has completed the Isenheim Altarpiece and is exhausted. Ursula takes care of the dying Regina. Albrecht wants to get Mathis to join him, but the latter refuses. Having grown tired, he seeks solitude and bids farewell.
Making-of videos about this opera production at the Semperoper: