Richard Bratby

The opera that wouldn’t die

After a century of political suppression and critical sniffiness, Erich Korngold’s one-time smash hit Die tote Stadt is back

Stephen Gould as Paul and Nadja Michael as Marie/Marietta in the Royal Opera’s 2009 production of Erich Korngold’s Die tote Stadt. Credit: robbie jack/Corbis via Getty Images

When Erich Wolfgang Korngold completed his third opera, Die tote Stadt, in August 1920, he’d barely turned 23. Yet such was his reputation that what followed was practically a Europe-wide bidding war for rights to the première. The young composer had his pick of companies and conductors (the Vienna State Opera tried and failed).

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