Die kahle Sängerin / The Bald Soprano

Luciano Chailly

Chamber opera in one act based on the play by Eugène Ionesco German by Josef Heinzelmann

Premiere 16. January 2022

Performed in German

A married couple are sitting cosily in front of the fireplace. We learn that they live near London and are called Smith. Later, they are joined by the Martins, who are surprised to discover that they are husband and wife. The fire chief and the maid Mary also already know each other, and the bald prima donna – she always styles her hair the same way! Eugène Ionesco’s first play »The Bald Soprano« from 1950 inaugurated the ›Theatre of the Absurd‹. With its assemblage of domestic scenes featuring meaningless banter, situational comedy, pseudo-clichés and non-sequiturs, Ionesco created a witty »anti-play« full of dazzling linguistic acrobatics. In collaboration with the playwright, Italian composer Luciano Chailly (1920-2002) wrote the libretto for the opera of the same name. His score captures the character of the protagonists and their relationships by means of a quintet of plucked instruments – featherlight, vain and dance-like – as well as serene string quintet and a rather coarse wind quintet. Semper Zwei now presents the German premiere of this opera rarity, which was first performed in Vienna in 1986.


It is nine in the evening. Mr. and Mrs. Smith are sitting in front of their fireplace and waiting for the Martin couple. When they arrive, they discover that they are evidently married to each other and are happy to have finally found one another again. Mary doubts that this is really the case. The couple are talking when the fire chief enters. He is looking for a fire and complains that there are fewer and fewer fires to put out. The hosts urge him to stay and entertain them with funny anecdotes. The maid Mary, who absolutely loves telling anecdotes herself, also wants to share a story. She recognizes in the fire chief her first boyfriend and flings her arms around him, beaming with joy. On the way out, the fire chief asks about the bald soprano. She still has the same hairstyle, he is assured.