Deutsche Oper Berlin

Il Teorema di Pasolini


Bismarckstraße 35, 10627 Berlin

Giorgio Battistelli


In Italian with German and English subtitles

In his 1968 film "Teorema", Pasolini formulated a radical reckoning with the bourgeoisie: the upper-middle-class family at the centre of the work is held together only by conventions, and the erotic seductive power of a stranger alone is enough to break apart this ossified system. Battistelli has been fascinated by "Teorema" ever since he first set the material to music for the Munich Biennale in 1992 at Henze's suggestion, at that time as a chamber opera with silent actors. Now, 30 years later, Battistelli is shaping the Pasolini original as a grand opera ... 

On the work

“Teorema”, which was released in 1968 as both a film and a novel, is one of the most radical of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s works, as well as being one of the best known. In it Pasolini portrays a fictitious industrialist’s family as a means to analyse the decay of bourgeois society. A young stranger is taken in as a guest and proceeds to seduce every member of the family in turn, all of whom find it subsequently impossible to continue on their rigidly conventional paths. Each of them sets about breaking free in their own way from the straitjacket that has determined the course of their lives thus far. The domestic servant, Emilia, finds relief in faith, the son embraces the life of an artist, the daughter goes mad, the mother seeks indiscriminate sexual encounters and the patriarch renounces all possessions.

No lesser artist than the great German composer Hans Werner Henze recognised the potential of “Teorema” for the musical-theatre genre and secured the rights to the material, though he did not write the opera himself. As Head of the Munich Biennale, Henze entrusted the musical composition to the Italian composer Giorgio Battistelli, who had already created international ripples with his experimental opera entitled EXPERIMENTUM MUNDI. In 1992 he delivered an initial version of TEOREMA in the form of a chamber opera with mute actors. Today, 30 years later, Battistelli has gone back to the material and created a full-length opera featuring singers and a large orchestra, an opus informed by the experience of scoring works such as RICHARD III and most recently GIULIO CESARE, which have earned him a reputation as one of the greatest living composers of opera.

On the production

IL TEOREMA DI PASOLINI is the first work to be produced by the British-Irish theatre collective Dead Centre for the stage of an opera house. Dead Centre have made a name for themselves as a remarkable directorial team with international festival appearances that have included productions for the Wiener Burgtheater and the Schaubühne Berlin. Their staging of Olga Neuwirth’s opera BÄHLAMMS FEST for the 2019 Ruhrtriennale was their first venture into musical theatre. Their work is characterised by illusionist effects that blur the boundary between fiction and reality and present on-stage action in a cinematic way.


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Deutsche Oper Berlin

Bismarckstraße 35, 10627 Berlin-Charlottenburg

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