- Museum number
The Captain, Drum Major and the Doctor, costume designs for characters in the opera 'Wozzeck'; originally one sheet cut into three, now mounted together. 1951
Watercolour and gouache
- Production date
Height: 260 millimetres
Width: 340 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Information from David Paisey:
Caspar Neher (1897-1962): designs for the first UK production at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, of Alban Berg's opera Wozzeck in January 1952. They were formerly in the collection of the baritone Ernest Frank.
The composer Alban Berg (1885-1935) based his opera on the fragmentary drama Woyzeck by Georg Büchner (1813-1837), which had been written in 1836/37 but not published until 1879. The opera, now a 20th-century classic, was premiered in Berlin in 1925.
Neher was a close friend and collaborator with Bertold Brecht after the First World War, notably for The Threepenny Opera (1928) and Mahagony (1930), and, after Brecht's exile during the Nazi period in Germany and the Second World War, for Brecht's Berliner Ensemble. He also designed the sets for the Essen 1929 production of Wozzeck, and supplied the libretto for Kurt Weill's subsequently banned opera Die Bürgschaft in 1932, though he himself did not leave Germany under the Nazis.
The first UK performance of Wozzeck opened at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden on 22 January 1952. It was conducted by the distinguished Austrian Erich Kleiber (1898-1956) who had conducted the first performance in 1925 and in 1934 had resigned from his post at the Berlin State Opera in protest at the Nazi condemnation of Berg's other opera Lulu. It was directed by Sumner Austin and sung in English - not until 1984 was it sung here in the original German. The roles of Wozzeck and Marie (his common-law wife and the mother of a little son, not necessarily his) were sung by Marko Rothmüller and Christel Goltz (who had sung together in the previous year's production by the Royal Opera of Richard Strauss's Salome); the Captain and the Doctor by Parry Jones and Frederick Dalberg; the Drum-Major was sung by Thorstein Hannesson.
David Paisey, who funded the purchase of these three drawings by Caspar Neher (2017,7018.1-3), attended this production on 30 January 1952.
- Not on display
- Associated titles
Associated Title: Wozzeck
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Formerly in the collection of Ernest Frank (opera singer) by descent to his step-grandson.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number