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Oper in drei Akten
Text von Ferdinand Lion nach der Novelle "Das Fräulein von Scuderi" von E.T.A. Hoffmann
Edition: Performance material

Product Details


I. In Paris, a murderer and robber is on the loose. All of his victims were wearing jewellery from the famous goldsmith Cardillac which was also stolen from them. A lady requests her cavalier to make her a present of a piece of jewellery by Cardillac as proof of his love for her.
He is murdered one night as he is about to present her with a golden belt. II. Cardillac is visited by the gold dealer. The daughter is torn between her love for her father and her beloved, an officer. Cardillac reacts indifferently to her question whether she is allowed to go out with him.
The officer recognises the extreme value that Cardillac attaches to his jewellery and purchases a necklace. In the evening, Cardillac dons a cape, pulls on a mask and leaves the workshop.
III. The officer recognises Cardillac in the masked assailant on the street. The gold dealer who has witnessed the attack accuses Cardillac, but the officer accuses the gold dealer of having committed the crime. The daughter recognises the truth. When Cardillac announces to the public that he knows the identity of the criminal, the public threatens to plunder the workshop if he does not reveal the name. He admits to the crimes without remorse, is knocked down by the public, grasps hold of the necklace as he is dying and kisses it.

In the summer of 1925, Ferdinand Lion made the suggestion to Hindemith that he should compile a libretto based on the novella Das Fräulein von Scudéri [Mademoiselle de Scudéri] by E.T.A. Hoffmann. Hindemith intervened in this process at an early stage with numerous requests for alterations, particularly in the sketches for the second and third acts. The monograph devoted to Cardillac written by the publishing editor Franz Willms and published in 1926 focuses on a discussion of the contemporary operatic-musicological debate on the pair of opposites ‘musical drama’ and ‘opera’ as exemplified in Cardillac. Willms considered the concept of a ‘musical drama’ in which music intensifies the ‘dramatic action, particularly on an emotional level’ to be outdated; he juxtaposes this concept with ‘opera’ in which the text should ‘primarily provide the opportunity for the performance of highly varied and multifaceted music’. Viewed against this background, he considered Cardillac as a prime example of contemporary stagecraft. In the composition of this opera, Hindemith made frequent use of autonomous musical forms possessing subtle and multilayered connections with the text. In the duet between the daughter and Cardillac (No. 10) for example, the daughter’s vain search for the attention of her father is musically depicted by a fugato; the antiphony between Cardillac and the crowd (No. 17) with their insistent demands for the name of the murderer is illustrated by a passacaglia. Recurring motifs appear to have originated from the concept of leitmotifs. The almost unbroken contrapuntal structure of the composition and the frequent use of solo instruments in the orchestration which is oriented towards the creation of extreme contrasting effects and sharp contours conjure up a ‘neo- Baroque’ sound which had a significance presence in Hindemith’s compositions around this time.
The musical structure tending towards stylisation and abstraction is congruent to the expressionistic nature of the subject and the text. Cardillac was one of the most frequently performed operas of the 1920s and went on to become Hindemith’s most successful stage work of all. Cardillac disappeared from the operatic repertoire around the mid-1930s in the wake of the escalation of the financial crisis and the onset of national-socialist rule. Hindemith’s wish that the new four-act version of Cardillac would be given priority to the first three-act version didn’t become accepted. (S. Sch.-G

Orchestral Cast

2 (2. auch Picc.) · 1 · Engl. Hr. · Es-Klar. · 1 · Bassklar. · Tenorsax. · 2 · Kfg. - 1 · 2 · 2 · 1 - P. S. (Trgl. · Röhrengl. · kl. Gong · kl. Beck. · hg. Beck. · Beckenpaar · Tamt. · Tamb. · 4 Tomt. · Rührtr. · kl. Tr. · gr. Tr. · Glsp.) (5 Spieler) - Klav. - Str. (6 · 0 · 4 · 4 · 4) -
Bühnenmusik: Ob. - 2 Hr. · Trp. · Pos. - Vl. · 2 Kb.


Cardillac, ein berühmter Goldschmied · Bariton - Seine Tochter · Sopran - Offizier · Tenor - Goldhändler · Bass - Der Kavalier · Tenor - Die Dame · Sopran - Führer der Prévôté · hoher Bass - König, Kavaliere und Damen des Hofes, die Prévôté, Volk · Chor

More Information

Oper in drei Akten
Text von Ferdinand Lion nach der Novelle "Das Fräulein von Scuderi" von E.T.A. Hoffmann
Italienische Übersetzung von Massimiliano Carlo
German, Italian
Performance material
Schott Music
Year of composition:
1925 - 1926
op. 39
90 ′
World Premiere:
November 9, 1926 · Dresden (D)
Sächsisches Staatstheater
Conductor: Fritz Busch
Original staging: Issai Dobrowen · Set desing: Raffaelo Busoni

Technical Details

Product number:
LS 2222-01

Preview/Media Contents



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