The Passenger - First Scenic Performance

Bregenz Festival 2010:

The fully staged premiere of the opera The Passenger, composed in 1968 in two acts based on the novel by polish Auschwitz survivor Zofia Posmysz, was the centerpiece of the program at the Bregenz Festival 2010.

Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s friend Dmitri Shostakovich had already proclaimed the opera “a masterpiece” and attempted to use all of his influence to bring the work to the stage in Russia:

“I shall never tire of taking delight in Weinberg's opera The Passenger. I have heard it three times, I have studied the score, and each time I have grasped more deeply the beauty and greatness of this music.
It is a masterful work, perfect in form and style, and I may add highly contemporary in its subject matter. The moral concepts at the heart of the opera - its spirituality and its humanism - cannot fail to impress its listeners. The music is profoundly shattering in its drama. It is poignant and vividly formed, there is not one single empty, indifferent note.”

Yet his passionate plea did not help: Although four Soviet opera houses had announced great interest in a performance at the time, the cultural authorities always interposed their veto. It wasn’t until 40 years after its creation that the opera was staged for the first time by David Pountney. For him, this production and the rediscovery of the composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg was, as he emphasizes, the most important project of his many years as director of the Bregenz Festival.

The opera deals with guilt and its repression after the Holocaust. Years after the end of the Second World War, a former warden of the concentration camp in Auschwitz, Anneliese Kretschmar, on a trip with her husband on an ocean liner bound for Brazil, sees one of her former prisoners: Marta. The chance meeting of the two women unleashes a powerful drama of extreme intensity.

With this award-winning production, the deeply deserved rediscovery of the great, multifaceted oeuvre of one of the most important Russian composers of the 20th century has commenced on the international level.

Upcoming Performances

Moscow, The Kolobov Novaya Opera

September 11, 2017
October 30, 2017

Online Tickets

Yekaterinburg, State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre

October 10, 2017
November 14, 2017

Online Tickets

Opera Frankfurt

March 3, 2018
March 9, 2018
March 18, 2018
March 24, 2018
March 30, 2018

Online Tickets

Aarhus, Den Jyske Opera

August 22, 2018
August 24, 2018
August 26, 2018
August 28, 2018

Online Tickets


Festival Hall Bregenz 2010
The Opera Rediscovery of the Year!
upon an opinion poll among 50 international opera critics

Teatr Wielki Warsaw 2010
(Bregenz coproduction)
David Pountney decorated with the ‚Gentlemens Cross of Merit of the Polish Republic‘

English National Opera London 2011
(Bregenz coproduction)
'Laurence Olivier Award Nomination' in the Category 'Best New Opera Production'

Badisches Staatstheater
Karlsruhe 2013

new production

Houston Grand Opera 2014
(Bregenz adoption)


Lincoln Center Festival New York 2014
(Houston Grand Opera guest appearances)


Lyric Opera of Chicago 2015
(Bregenz adoption)


Detroit Opera House 2015
(Bregenz adoption)


Opera Frankfurt/Main 2015
(new production)


Florida Grand Opera, Miami 2016
(Bregenz adoption)


Ekaterinburg State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre 2016
(new production)


Teatr Wielki Warsaw 2016
(Bregenz coproduction)


Musiktheater im Revier Gelsenkirchen 2017
(new production)


The Kobolov Novaya Opera Theatre of Moscow 2017
(new production)

Bolshoi Theatre Moscow 2017
Guest Appearance of Ekaterinburg State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre

Semperoper Dresden 2017
(Frankfurt adoption)