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Der junge Lord

Der junge Lord (The Young Lord) is an opera in two acts by Hans Werner Henze to a German libretto by Ingeborg Bachmann, after Wilhelm Hauff's Der Affe als Mensch (The Ape as Man) from Der Scheik von Alexandria und seine Sklaven (The Sheik of Alexandria and his Slaves).

The style and plot owe much to Italian opera buffa, with the influence of Vincenzo Bellini and Gioachino Rossini noted.[1] Andrew Porter has noted four distinct musical styles in the opera, corresponding to four different levels of characters:[2]

  • "neo-classical" style, for the townspeople;
  • "neo-Straussian arioso", for Sir Edgar's entrance;
  • a "wilder, more erratic" style, for the traveling circus;
  • lyrical style, for Luise's love music.

Robert Henderson has commented on the "Brechtian" nature of Bachmann and Henze's treatment of the story.[3]

Performance history

The opera was commissioned by the Deutsche Oper Berlin, and was first performed there on 7 April 1965. The production was by Gustav Sellner, and the conductor was Christoph von Dohnányi.

Roles and role creators[4]

Role Voice type Premiere cast, 7 April 1965
(Conductor: Christoph von Dohnányi)
Lord Barrett tenor Loren Driscoll
Luise soprano Edith Mathis
Baroness Grünwiesel mezzo-soprano Patricia Johnson
Secretary to Sir Edgar baritone Barry McDaniel
Armintore tenor Günter Treptow
Begonia mezzo-soprano Vera Little
Town mayor bass-baritone Manfred Röhrl
Hasentreffer baritone Ivan Sardi and Emil Graf
Frau Hasentreffer soprano Lisa Otto
Frau von Hufnagel mezzo-soprano Ruth Hesse
Ida soprano Bella Jasper
Scharf baritone Ernst Krukowski
Von Mucker tenor Helmut Krebs
Wilhelm tenor Donald Grobe
Sir Edgar silent role Otto Graf


The opera is in two acts of three scenes each, linked by interludes.

Sir Edgar, an English gentleman and scientist, visits a small German town with a vast entourage, including black slaves and a large collection of animals. The townspeople are curious about the new personage in their town, but Sir Edgar is initially aloof to the townsfolk. Through his secretary, Sir Edgar declines all invitations to social events, and the townspeople become angry at this attitude. In scene 2 of act 1, the Baroness Grünwiesel hosts a tea and expects Sir Edgar to attend, but he does not, via a note from his Moor servant. The Baroness promises revenge on Sir Edgar for this slight. In scene 3, a traveling circus sets up their show in front of Sir Edgar's residence. Sir Edgar leaves his house for the first time since his arrival, and enjoys the circus performance. However, when city officials try to talk with Sir Edgar, he again refuses. The city officials then shut the circus down, but Sir Edgar invites the circus troupe into his mansion.

At the start of act 2, several months have elapsed. A lamplighter hears screams and groans from Sir Edgar's mansion. He reports this to the town mayor, who demands an explanation from Sir Edgar. Sir Edgar's secretary explains that the noises are from Lord Barrett, Sir Edgar's nephew (the 'young lord' of the title), who has arrived recently in Germany and is learning German, but is making mistakes and is punished with lashings. However, the prospect of a pending social event at Sir Edgar's mansion becomes evident. This is fulfilled in scene 2 of act 2, where Lord Barrett is presented to the townspeople at a social event at Sir Edgar's mansion. Lord Barrett behaves eccentrically, but the townsfolk are charmed and begin to imitate his actions. Luise, the ward of the local baroness, had previously been in love with Wilhelm, a student, but now has become enamoured of the 'young lord'. Finally, in the climactic dance, Lord Barrett's attire falls from him, and he is revealed as a trained ape.




  1. ^ Everett Helm, Current Chronicle The Musical Quarterly 52 (1) (January 1966): pp. 101–106. Accessed 16 February 2008 (subscription required)
    Jamie James (17 November 1996). "A Master Awaiting Acclaim". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 February 2008. 
  2. ^ Andrew Porter, "Reports from Abroad: Berlin – Henze's New Opera", The Musical Times, 106 (1468) (June 1965): pp. 453–55.
  3. ^ Robert Henderson, "Music in London: Opera – Der junge Lord, The Musical Times, 110 (1522) (December 1969): p. 1266.
  4. ^ Andrew Porter, "Henze's Young Lord", The Musical Times, 110 (1520) (October 1969): pp. 1028–1030 (1969).


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