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



Festival Hall Bregenz 2010
Scenic premiere

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

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

Badisches Staatstheater
Karlsruhe 2013

New production

Houston Grand Opera 2014
Coproduction Bregenz


Lincoln Center Festival New York 2014
Houston Grand Opera guest appearances


Lyric Opera of Chicago 2015
Coproduction Bregenz


Detroit Opera House 2015
Coproduction Bregenz


Opera Frankfurt/Main 2015
New production


Florida Grand Opera, Miami 2016
Coproduction Bregenz


Ekaterinburg State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre 2016
New production


Teatr Wielki Warsaw 2016
Coproduction Bregenz


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


Den Jyske Opera Aarhus 2018
New production


Theater & Philharmonie Thüringen 2019
New production


Staatstheater Braunschweig 2019
New production


The Israeli Opera 2019
Bregenz adoption


Opera Graz 2020
New production