This June, Dutch National Opera will present a new production of Die ersten Menschen by Rudi Stephan. The German composer (1887-1915) was only 28 years old when he died in the First World War. He had just completed Die ersten Menschen. The opera had its world premiere posthumously in 1924, has only been staged sporadically over the past century (most recently in 1988) and is now being performed for the first time in the Netherlands.
With his direction of Die ersten Menschen, the Spanish theater and opera director Calixto Bieito makes his debut with Dutch National Opera. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is conducted by François-Xavier Roth. The Dutch National Opera is performing Die ersten Menschen as part of the Holland Festival. This production replaces La damnation de Faust, a project that proved too large-scale under government restrictions.
Die ersten Menschen takes place in a vast primeval landscape, where the first family on earth cannot avoid confrontations. The first two people on Earth were in love. The third human killed the fourth. The German author Otto Borngräber gave the libretto, based on a play by himself, the subtitle "Erotices Mysterium". In his symbolic interpretation of the Bible story, he was clearly inspired by Freud's psychoanalysis, which was rampant in his day. Borngräber shows how the primal family - Adahm and Chawa and their sons Kajin and Chabel - are torn apart by the tension between the sexual drive and the greedy life on the one hand and a life devoted to the spiritual on the other.
The role of Adahm is played by the American bass baritone Kyle Ketelsen, Chawa by the German soprano Annette Dasch, Kajin by the British baritone Leigh Melrose, and Chabel by the American tenor John Osborn. Rebecca Ringst designs the stage, Ingo Krügler the costumes and Michael Bauer the lighting design.
The Dutch premiere of Die ersten Menschen will take place on June 3. If the measures then in force allow the public to be allowed, there will be additional performances. In any case, the premiere will also be streamed.