Dantons Tod

Music Gottfried von Einem


For many decades, no less than four operas (including two world premières) and five ballets (including two world premières) by Gottfried von Einem belonged to the repertoire at the Wiener Staatsoper. To mark the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth, the work that catapulted him to international fame at the Salzburg Festival in 1947 returns to the opera house on the Ring: Dantons Tod. Von Einem had brilliantly recreated Büchner’s Revolution tragedy for music theatre and, following the postulate of his teacher Boris Blacher, had interwoven the musical and the theatrical in such a way that the dramatic episodes are optimally communicated in music to the audience.

Cast 24.03.2018

Conductor Susanna Mälkki
Director & Light Design Josef Ernst Köpplinger
Set design Rainer Sinell
Costume Design Alfred Mayerhofer
Assistant choreographer Ricarda Regina Ludigkeit
George Danton Wolfgang Koch
Camille Desmoulins Herbert Lippert
Hérault de Séchelles Jörg Schneider
Robespierre Thomas Ebenstein
Lucile Olga Bezsmertna


Part 1

Robespierre has seized power and is having his opponents executed at every turn. An opponent who is his equal is Danton – he could therefore only proceed against the tyrannical extremist in the Convention. However, Danton does not believe the time for that has arrived yet.

Nevertheless, Danton ridicules Robespierre to his face for his affected virtuousness. This makes Robespierre all the more inclined to follow the advice of the young fanatic Saint-Just to arrest Danton and his closest allies, Hérault de Séchelles and Camille Desmoulins.

Although Danton learns in advance of the impending arrest, he refuses to flee and so delivers himself up indirectly to Robespierre. 

Part 2

Danton and his friends are in prison. He can no longer really rely on help from the masses, who were initially solidly behind Danton; official opinion is already starting to turn against him, at least in some factions.

Before the revolutionary tribunal, the feared rhetorician Danton is able to defend himself skilfully against his opponents, thereby temporarily winning the upper hand again. But Saint-Just presents falsified incriminating evidence against the accused. Danton then accuses Robespierre, Saint-Just and the “ravens of the Committee of Public Safety” in general of high treason. Those present are divided, and the prisoners are forcibly hustled out.

Before the assembled people, Danton and his friends are guillotined. The masses cheer at the execution and respond with shouts of “Hail”.

Desmoulins’ wife Lucile, who has lost her senses, seals her own fate by calling out “Long live the king” at the end of her song about the reaper Death.


This production is made possible thanks to the support of