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Angels in America

Opera in two parts
based on the play by Tony Kushner
Der politisch engagierte New Yorker Schriftsteller Tony Kushner beschreibt die amerikanische Neurose des Jahrtausendwechsels als dunklen Alptraum und spektakuläre theatralische Halluzination. Viele der Hauptfiguren sind reale Personen, etwa Ethel Rosenberg, die von dem kriminellen Rechtsanwalt Roy Cohn, einem Mitarbeiter von McCarthy, auf den elektrischen Stuhl geschickt wurde. Bei Kushner und in der Oper erscheint der Geist von Ethel Rosenberg, um Zeugin des qualvollen Aids-Todes von Roy Cohn zu werden. Auch die Hauptperson der Geschichte, Prior Walter, erkrankt am Aids-Virus. Er weiß, dass er sterben muss. In seinem Überlebenskampf erfindet er einen Engel, der ihm befiehlt, als Prophet die Welt zu retten. In seiner Vision steigt Walter in den Himmel und lehnt den Auftrag vor der erstaunten Engelsschar mit folgenden Worten ab: „I’ve lived through such terrible times, and there are people who live through much much worse, but... You see them living anyway. When they’re more spirit than body, more sores than skin, when flies lay eggs in the corners of the eyes of their children, they live. If I can find hope anywhere, that’s it, that’s the best I can do. I want more life”. Dann legt Walter das Buch der Propheten nieder und kehrt auf die Erde zurück.
Edition: Performance material

Product Details



When Prior admits to his partner Louis that he has developed Aids, his partner leaves him. In hospital, it is the transvestite Belize who looks after Prior who is increasingly losing his connection with reality. Prior has visions in which he is visited by an angel who addresses him as a prophet and wishes to assign him a ‚great task‘ in which he will save the world, as God has long departed from heaven and the angels. Harper and her husband, the Mormon lawyer Joe, have become estranged. Joe has discovered his homosexuality but conceals this fact from his wife. He does however confi de in his mother who as a particularly devout Mormon cannot accept these circumstances and travels to New York to bring him back onto the right track. Joe searches for anonymous sexual contacts in Central Park and meets Louis with whom he will later share an apartment. In the meantime, Harper has taken refuge in Valium trips during which she has created the imaginary travel agent Mr Lies who transports her to distant ideal worlds; she also meets Prior during her trips. Joe works for the attorney Roy Cohn, the only historical figure in this drama. Roy has an intense hatred of gays, but sleeps with men. When he is told by his doctor that he has contracted Aids, he completely denies being gay and insists that he is suffering from cancer of the liver. His Aids-related death is accompanied by an angel of vengeance: the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg whom he caused to be executed by electric chair in 1953 on a false charge of espionage. Prior’s angelic revelations come to a climax with a meeting with the angels who wish to convince him to continue his ‚great task‘. Prior refuses: he only wishes to be blessed by the angels and gain more time. He then lays down the book of the prophets as a symbolic gesture and returns to Earth. Five years later, he, Louis, Beliza and Hannah meet up again at the Bethesda fountain in Central Park in New York.


On the search for material for a commission by the Théâtre du Châtelet, Eötvös read the two-part drama Angels in America dating from 1991/92. This monumental stage drama paints a more vivid image of the apocalyptic anxiety of a nation faced with an Aids epidemic, political and ecological threats and social upheavals towards the end of the 1980s than any other work of its time. The play’s author Tony Kusher was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for this work. Eötvös was fascinated at how Kusher clothed his political message in a plot in which reality and hallucination are fused in an indissoluble continuum. Mari Mezei condensed both parts of the play into an almost three hour-long libretto focusing on the individual fates of the protagonists rather than on the political aspects of the original text. Eötvös’s music integrates elements originating from jazz, rock and musicals. He creates iridescent soundscapes in combination with everyday sounds and specific quotations such as Jewish melismas in the initial funeral scene. These in turn bring forth a wide variety of linguistic forms ranging from free recitation to operatic coloratura singing by the angels.

Orchestral Cast

2 (1. auch Altfl., 2. auch Picc. u. Altfl.) · 0 · 2 (2. auch Es-Klar.) · Bassklar. (auch Kb.-Klar.) · 2 Sax. (1.: Sopransax., Altsax., Baritonsax. · 2.: Altsax., Tenorsax.) · 0 - 0 · 1 (auch Picc.-Trp.) · 1 (Tenorpos. mit Quartventil) · 0 - S. (I: Vibr. · Marimba · Crot. · Beck. · chin. Beck. · Nietenbeck. · kl. Tr. · gr. Tr. · Tabla · Cabasa · Styropor-Platten [ad lib.]; II: Glsp. · Gongs · Röhrengl. · Tamt. · Metallröhren · Metall-Guiro · 2 Trgl. · Indische Schellen · Tube Maraca [Chocalho] · kl. Tamb. · gr. Tamborim · Whisper Chimes [Metal Chimes]) (2 Spieler) - Git. (verstärkt, auch Schellenbaum) · E-Git. · Cel. · Hammond-Org. (B3 mit Leslie-Box) - Str. (6 · 0 · 4 · 3 · 2)

Diverse für die Aufführung notwendigen Zuspielklänge und -geräusche können von der Homepage des Komponisten über den folgenden Link heruntergeladen werden: / Various playback sounds and noises necessary for the performance can be downloaded from the composer’s homepage via the following link: https://eotvospeter.com/piece/angels-in-america/ (herunterscrollen bis zu Technical information und The sound material), oder direkt: / (scroll down to Technical information and The sound material), or directly: https://app.box.com/s/klc688m57zdyue0nhe3jxp7mr9uvnug9


The Angel · Sopran - Harper Pitt (Joes Ehefrau) · Sopran (mit großem Stimmumfang) - Hannah Pitt (Joes Mutter) · Mezzosopran (mit großem Stimmumfang) - Joseph Pitt (Harpers Ehemann) · Bariton - Prior Walter (Louis' Freund) · lyrischer Bariton - Louis Ironson (Priors Freund) · Tenor - Belize (schwarze Krankenschwester) · Countertenor (Mezzosopran) - Roy Cohn (Rechtsanwalt) · Bass-Bariton

Weitere Personen: Rabbi Chemelwitz, ein orthodoxer jüdischer Rabbi, gespielt von Hannah - Mr Lies, ein Reiseveranstalter, gespielt von Belize - Henry, Roys Arzt, gespielt von Hannah - Frau in der South Bronx, gespielt von Belize - Ghost 1, ein Geist des toten Prior Walter aus dem 13. Jahrhundert, gespielt von Roy - Ghost 2, ein Geist des toten Prior Walter aus dem 18. Jahrhundert, gespielt von Joe - Ethel Rosenberg, gespielt von Harper - Voice, gespielt von The Angel - Angel Antarctica, gespielt von Harper - Angel Asiatica, gespielt von Hannah - Angel Africanii, gespielt von Belize - Angel Oceania, gespielt von Louis - Angel Europe, gespielt von Joe - Angel Australia, gespielt von Roy -
Alle Sänger (im Graben wie auch auf der Bühne) werden elektronisch verstärkt. -
Im Orchestergraben: 3 Vokalisten (S, A, Bar) · 1 Tonmeister

More Information

Angels in America
Opera in two parts
based on the play by Tony Kushner
Libretto by Mari Mezei
Performance material
Schott Music
Year of composition:
2003 - 2004 (2012)
130 ′
World Premiere:
November 23, 2004 · Paris (F)
Théâtre du Châtelet
Conductor: Peter Eötvös · Assitant Conductor: Alejo Perez
Original staging: Philippe Calvario · Costumes: Jan Morrell · Set design: Richard Peduzzi · Choreography: Sophie Tellier

September 29, 2012 · Wrocław (PL)
Contemporary Opera Festival Wrocław 2012
soloists of Opera Wrocławska · Conductor: Bassem Akiki · Opera Wrocławska Orchestra

(concert) (world premiere in a concert performance of the revised version)
Commissioned work :
Commande du Théâtre du Châtelet Paris

Technical Details

Product number:
LS 5031-02

Preview/Media Contents



Set Ascending Direction
  • Angels in America
    Conductor: William Kelley
    June 21, 2023 | Bremen (Germany) , Theater, Großes Haus
  • Angels in America
    Conductor: William Kelley
    June 1, 2023 | Bremen (Germany) , Theater, Großes Haus
  • Angels in America
    Conductor: William Kelley
    May 21, 2023 | Bremen (Germany) , Theater, Großes Haus
  • Angels in America
    Conductor: William Kelley
    May 12, 2023 | Bremen (Germany) , Theater, Großes Haus
  • Angels in America
    Conductor: William Kelley
    April 29, 2023 | Bremen (Germany) , Theater, Großes Haus
  • Set Ascending Direction


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