Take a seat at the prestigious Deutsche Oper Berlin for a moving presentation of Alexander von Zemlinsky's Der Zwerg(The Dwarf)! Adapted from a fairy tale by Oscar Wilde, "The Birthday of the Infanta," the composer's rendition takes on autobiographical undertones, alluding metaphorically to Zemlinsky's love affair with the young Alma Schindler—later Alma Mahler, the wife of composer Gustav. As a prelude to the one-act opera, Adelle Eslinger-Runnicles and Evgeny Nikiforov take on the roles of Alexander and Alma, set to Schoenberg's Begleitmusik zu einer Lichtspielszene (Accompanying Music to a Film Scene).
Music director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin since 2007 (with a recent contract extension through 2027), Donald Runnicles breathes life into the legend with a wave of his baton. The amorous plight of the title character leads to despair when he sees, for the first time, his reflection in a mirror. The merriment of the festivities and the grandeur of the setting offer a cruel contrast with the internal conflict of the Dwarf, brilliantly performed by Mick Morris Mehnert and sung by tenor David Butt Philip. The dazzling Elena Tsallagova more than holds her own as the infanta (Spanish royal daughter), joined by Emily Magee and Philipp Jekal in Tobias Kratzer's superb staging.