- Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Opera in three acts. 1920.
- Libretto by the composer and his father, Julius Korngold
(under the pseudonym Paul Schott), after the novel Bruges la morte
(Bruges the Dead) by Georges Rodenbach.
- First performance in Hamburg and Cologne on 4th December 1920.
|Marietta, a dancer & The Apparition of Paul's late wife, Marie ||soprano|
|Frank, Paul's friend ||baritone|
|Brigitta, Paul's housekeeper ||mezzo-soprano|
|Fritz, the Pierrot ||baritone|
|Juliette, a dancer ||soprano|
|Lucienne, a dancer ||soprano|
|Gaston, a dancer ||dancer|
|Gaston's Voice (off-stage) ||tenor|
|Victorin, a stage director ||tenor|
|Graf Albert ||tenor|
In Bruges Paul keeps a room as a shrine to his dead wife Marie. Her portrait hangs on the wall
and a lock of her hair is kept in a casket. Frank visits him and learns how he has met a woman who
resembles Marie, to the life. Marietta, a dancer, comes to the house, dances and sings, resembling, as
she realises, the portrait now revealed on the wall of the room. Paul is fascinated by her and when
she has gone imagines that he sees Marie herself, stepping from the portrait and telling him to go out
and live. The second act finds Paul waiting outside Mariettas Lied house by night. His
housekeeper, in disapproval, has entered a convent and Frank has also succumbed to the fascination
of Marietta. She and her companions come from the theatre, laughing and drinking, observed by
Paul. Marietta acts the resurrection scene from Meyerbeer's Robert le Diable, to the amusement of
her friends and the horror of Paul, who rails at her. She exercises her power over him, insisting that
they go to his house. The next morning Paul finds her in Marie's room, while outside a procession
passes. Marietta mocks Paul's devotion to Marie and his piety, provoking him until he murders her.
Paul wakes up, to find that what had happened was a dream. He resolves, with Frank, to leave
Bruges, a city of death, where there is no resurrection.
Korngold's opera won wide success after its first simultaneous performances in Hamburg and
Cologne. The work is richly orchestrated, with music often of great intensity. The treatment of the
symbolist novel of Rodenbach is characteristic in many ways of the literary and dramatic
preoccupations of the period. It attracted the attention of a number of important singers in the two
principal rôles of Paul and Marietta-Marie. Well known excerpts include the Mariettalied,
Marietta's song of sadness, Glück, das mir verblieb (Joy, that I had) and Fritz's melancholy
Pierrotlied, in the night dream-sequence by Marietta's house. The latter was also arranged as a
violin solo by Fritz Kreisler, testimony to its wide contemporary popularity.