Der Zwerg

Alexander Von Zemlinsky

April 14, 2017 at 7:30pm
NEC’s Jordan Hall

Der Zwerg (The Dwarf)

Music by Alexander von Zemlinsky

Libretto by Georg Karlen based on Oscar Wilde’s short story, The Birthday of the Infanta

Sung in German with projected English titles

Run time: 90 minutes
Performed without intermission

Wilde Opera Nights season sponsored by Randolph J. Fuller


In Der Zwerg, the visionary words of Oscar Wilde’s fairy tale The Birthday of the Infanta are set to music by Alexander von Zemlinsky. One of the most provocative musical voices of his time, Zemlinsky influenced the work of Erich Korngold, Arnold Schoenberg, and Gustav Mahler.

Der Zwerg tells the story of a person with dwarfism who falls in love with a princess, with heartbreaking results. Set to expressive music of love and despair, The Dwarf is a dramatic and musical tour de force—this seldom heard opera soars with lush post-Romantic music.

Take the journey with Odyssey Opera, open up the kaleidoscopic world of opera, and go outside the ordinary to experience live orchestral music and the stunning power of the human voice.

“For the future, let those who come to play with me have no hearts.”

The Birthday of the Infanta, Oscar Wilde

Cast and Creative

Gil RoseGil Rose

Aleš BrisceinAleš Briscein
Der Zwerg

Kirsten ChambersKirsten Chambers
Donna Clara,
The Infanta

James JohnsonJames Johnson
Don Estoban

Michelle TrainorMichelle Trainor

Erica PetrocelliErica Petrocelli
First Maid

Dana Lynne VargaDana Lynne Varga
Second Maid

Vera SavageVera Savage
Third Maid


Zemlinsky’s Der Zwerg (The Dwarf) was composed between 1919-1921, and it premiered in 1922 under the direction of Otto Klemperer at Cologne’s Stadttheater. The one-act German libretto by Viennese film director and screenwriter Georg Klaren was freely adapted from Oscar Wilde’s tragic fairy tale The Birthday of the Infanta. Klaren’s favorite Viennese author in the late 1910s was Otto Weininger, known for his dramatic suicide (in the house where Beethoven had died) and unique and troubling theories about human sexuality (defined as a competing mixture of masculine and feminine elements in every person).

Read the program notes