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Berliner Ensemble
Rufus Wainwright
Robert Wilson

production dates

Spoleto, Italy
Spoleto 53 Festival dei due mondi
Teatro Caio Melisso
25-27 June 2010

Craiova, Poland
International Shakespeare Festival
National Theatre Marin Sorescu
23-24 April 2012

Two years after the triumphant success of the Three Penny Opera, the Berliner Ensemble and Robert Wilson present the Italian première of Shakespeare’s Sonnets at the Festival of Spoleto, with original music by the Canadian songwriter Rufus Wainwright.
Staged in Berlin in 2009 for the fourth centennial of the publishing of the sonnets, for this performance Wilson has selected twenty-five amongst the one hundred and fifty-four written by Shakespeare, accepting the challenge to stage one of the English playwright’s rare works which was not meant for the theatre.
His direction – in the usual perfection – plays ironically by confusing the genres. Georgette Dee – famous German cabaret performer – joins stage stars such as Inge Keller, Jürgen Holtz, Traute Hoess and Sylvie Rohrer – and the extraordinary company actors of the Berliner Ensemble who act and sing, bringing Bard’s immortal lines onto the set.
Wilson stages several Shakespearean characters, from the leprechaun to the fool, from Cupid to the mysterious dark dame, from the Queen of England to Shakespeare himself.
The director’s ability to “tell” the story by means of images puts himself at the service of Shakespeare’s verses, assisted by the music of Rufus Wainwright, who for this opera has used different musical styles that contribute to accompanying the audience on a dreamlike journey beyond time.
A stage première which is already a classic.


by Robert Wilson and Rufus Wainwright
Composition of texts by Jutta Ferbers

German translation by Christa Schuenke and Martin Flörchinger (Sonnet No. 23)

Christina Drechsler (Boy)
Anke Engelsmann (Secretary)
Ruth Glöss (Fool)
Anna Graenzer (Boy)
Ursula Höpfner-Tabori (Black Lady)
Traute Hoess (Rival)
Inge Keller (Shakespeare)
Sylvie Rohrer (Young Poet)
Dejan Bucin (Gentleman/ Lady)
Jürgen Holtz (Elisabeth I./ Elisabeth II.)
Christopher Nell (Lady/ Eve)
Sabin Tambrea (Woman/ Lady)<
Georgios Tsivanoglou (Cupid)

Georgette Dee
Winfried Goos

Stefan Rager (conductor and drums)
Hans-Jörn Brandenburg (piano)
Domenic Bouffard (guitar)
Andreas Henze (bass)

Isang Quartett:
Yun Ui Lee (first violin)
Sangha Hwang (second violin)
Min Kim (viola)
Yeo Hun Yun (violoncello)

Direction, stage, lights
Robert Wilson

Rufus Wainwright

Jacques Reynaud

Ann-Christin Rommen

Collaboration stage
Serge von Arx

Collaborations costumes
Yashi Tabassomi

Jutta Ferbers

Musical direction
Hans-Jörn Brandenburg
und Stefan Rager

Light design
Andreas Fuchs

Additional music
Bryan Senti

Assistant director
Michael Götz

Barbara Matte

Stage manager
Harald Boegen
Rainer B. Manja

Technical direction
Stephan Besson

Edmund Stier

Production Management
Eric Witzke

Ulrich Eh

Direction costumes and make-up
Barbara Naujok/Ulrike Heinemann

Axel Bramann

Intermission after scene 7 of act I
World premiere: 12. April 2009

Stage rights:
Christa Schuenke, Gustav Kiepenheuer Bühnenvertriebs-GmbH, Berlin
Martin Flörchinger, Frieling-Verlag, Berlin.
We thank Monteverdi, John Dowland and Michel Legrand for some short music sequences.