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Elliot Norton Reviews; Die Soldaten


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Elliot Norton Reviews
Die Soldaten
Program Number


Series Description

Boston theatre critic Elliot Norton interviews prominent actors, directors and producers on their craft. (Aired from October, 1958 to 1982. Winner of both Peabody and Tony Awards.) Series release date: 1958

Program Description

Elliot Norton interviews Sarah Caldwell, Artistic Director of the Opera Company of Boston about the 1983 season. The first opera of the season will be the U.S. premiere of “Die Soldaten” (“The Soldiers”), by German composer Bernd Alois Zimmerman. The operas that will follow in the season are to be “Aida”, “La bohème”, “Orpheus in the Underworld”, and “Der Freischütz”.

Norton and Caldwell begin by discussing “Die Soldaten”, which will include a unique mix of musical styles and media, including jazz combos, tapes, motion pictures, and electronic sound effects. Caldwell talks of meeting composer Zimmerman twenty year prior to the interview after seeing a production of the opera in Frankfurt. She says that it is essentially an anti-war story and an “almost clinical study of mankind’s destruction of mankind.” It is based on Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz’s 1776 play of the same name, which is a study of what happens to a man who is given a gun and told he is able to shoot it. He becomes marginalized, which affects his life and all of his relationships. Zimmerman himself fought in the German army in WWII and could not bring himself to shoot a gun.

Caldwell speaks to the power of the music in the opera, calling it “real theater music.” The passion of the orchestra highlights the nuances of each of the powerful moments in the play, creating a great impact in the theater. Caldwell is following Zimmerman’s original vision for the staging of the play, since the way Zimmerman wanted to do things were not done in Frankfurt for various reasons. Several of the actors are from the Frankfurt production, but most of them are Boston-trained. There are only four performances planned, but Caldwell hopes that it will be filmed, taken to other venues, and picked up by other companies.

Director: Joanna Lu. Taped 1/12/1983.

Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Talk Show
Performing Arts
Chicago: “Elliot Norton Reviews; Die Soldaten,” 01/12/1982, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed December 19, 2018, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_5DBB795E264E43D8ADD277ADA652732E.
MLA: “Elliot Norton Reviews; Die Soldaten.” 01/12/1982. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. December 19, 2018. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_5DBB795E264E43D8ADD277ADA652732E>.
APA: Elliot Norton Reviews; Die Soldaten. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_5DBB795E264E43D8ADD277ADA652732E
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