Dutch National Opera presents

Lulu Alban Berg (1885-1935)

This show was to been seen in June 2015

Guilt or innocence?

Duration 4:00

Breaks 2

By Alban Berg

Language German

Surtitles English & Dutch


Alban Berg
Oper in drei Akten
Libretto by Alban Berg
Completion and instrumentation of Act III by Friedrich Cerha (1979)
World premiere 2 June 1937, Zurich Opera


New production
Premiere 1 June 2015
Co-production with The Metropolitan Opera, New York and English National Opera, London
A Holland Festival production

Dutch National Opera presents the complete version of Alban Berg’s opera Lulu for the first time in National Opera & Ballet, in a co-production with The Metropolitan Opera New York and English National Opera. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra takes its place in the pit.

In short

Alban Berg wrestled with Lulu his entire life, leaving it unfinished at his death in 1935. Friedrich Cerha (*1926) completed the orchestration of the third act only in 1979. Until then, only the first two acts were ever performed, with segments of the Lulu Suite as a conclusion. Although the musical motives are based on a single twelve-tone series, the instrumentation is colourful and there is a great variety of musical forms. As the rhythm of the vocal lines closely follows that of speech, the text comes across as very natural. One of the highlights is Lulu’s provocative song ‘Wenn sich die Menschen um meinetwillen umgebracht haben’.


William Kentridge
The South African artist and filmmaker William Kentridge was inspired for his staging by the silent films from the 1920s and ‘30s, the time in which Lulu was composed. In 2012 he was the guest of the Holland Festival with the chamber opera Refuse the Hour.

De muziek bij Lulu is gebaseerd op één enkele twaalftoonsreeks. Repetitor Ernst Munneke legt in deze video uit wat deze muziek zo bijzonder maakt.


Co-production with
The Metropolitan Opera, New York and English National Opera, London.


Lothar Zagrosek
Stage Director 
William Kentridge
Luc de Wit
Sabine Theunissen
Costume Designer 
Greta Goiris
Lighting Designer 
Urs Schönebaum
Video Designer 
Catherine Meyburgh
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Mojca Erdmann
Gräfin Geschwitz 
Jennifer Larmore
Eine Theater-Garderobiere / Ein Gymnasiast / Ein Groom 
Rebecca Jo Loeb
Der Medizinalrat / Der Professor 
Aus Greidanus
Der Maler / Ein Neger 
William Burden
Dr. Schön / Jack the Ripper 
Johan Reuter
Daniel Brenna
Franz Grundheber
Ein Tierbändiger / Ein Athlet 
Werner Van Mechelen
Der Prinz / Der Kammerdiener/ Der Marquis 
Gerhard Siegel
Der Theaterdirektor / Der Bankier 
Julian Close
Eine Fünfzehnjährige 
Katrien Baerts
Ihre Mutter 
Helena Rasker
Eine Kunstgewerblerin 
Virpi Räisänen
Ein Journalist 
Roger Smeets
Ein Diener 
Peter Arink
Solo performers 
Joanna Dudley
Andrea Fabi


Lulu’s rise and fall
The story is drawn from two plays by Frank Wedekind about the attractive young dancer Lulu, who uses her charms to conquer and destroy. All men – and the occasional woman – desire her, but whoever marries her is faced with a death sentence. Guilt or innocence? That is the question. With each man, Lulu climbs the social ladder. She is cold and calculating, but also an easy prey for others. In the middle of the opera Berg includes music for a silent film that depicts Lulu’s demise after she has murdered her husband Dr. Schön. The dénouement at the end of the third act – Lulu has descended into prostitution – is sensational.

Conductor Lothar Zagrosek and director William Kentridge both make their Dutch National Opera debut. Mojca Erdmann appeared previously at Dutch National Opera as Blonde in Die Entführung aus dem Serail. In both voice and appearance, Erdmann is a perfect Lulu.


Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is at the very pinnacle of the world’s ranking of symphony orchestras. Founded in 1888, the orchestra was hailed by Gramophone magazine as ‘The World’s Greatest Orchestra’ thanks to its unique, recognizable sound and stylistic flexibility. Most recent DNO appearances: Parsifal (2012) and Falstaff (2014); in 2015 the RCO will join us for Lulu.



Every performance of National Opera & Ballet is preceded by an introductory talk. Learn more, enjoy more. The introduction begins 45 minutes before curtain and is held in the foyer of the second balcony. The introduction is free of charge to everyone attending the performance, and amplification is used to enhance audibility. Several days prior to the premiere, the introduction will be made available digitally as a podcast. Check this page to see if the podcast has already been made available.

Lulu was a Holland Festival production.

    Wed 29 Jan Culture press on William Kentridge's exhibition at the Jewish Historical Museum, 2012

    ‘The installation Black Box/Chambre Noire is an elusive and stunning artwork, which appears to reveal something new with each new viewing.’