Bluthochzeit (Blood Wedding) is an opera (lyrische Tragödie) in two acts by Wolfgang Fortner. The libretto, also by Fortner, is based on Enrique Beck's [de] German translation of García Lorca's 1933 play Bodas de sangre. It premiered at the Cologne Opera on 8 June 1957.

Opera by Wolfgang Fortner
Cologne Opera House shortly before the premiere of Bluthochzeit
TranslationBlood Wedding
LibrettistWolfgang Fortner
Based onGarcía Lorca's Bodas de sangre, translated by Enrique Beck [de]
8 June 1957 (1957-06-08)



Fortner was asked by Karl-Heinz Stroux to write incidental music for a performance of Lorca's play Bodas de sangre in Hamburg in the early 1950s.[1][2] The composer was impressed by the drama and felt that acting was not enough to "sing the tragedy to an end" ("die Tragödie zu Ende zu singen"), and decided to set longer sections to music.[1]

Fortner wrote the opera's libretto himself based on Enrique Beck's German translation of the play.[3] Bluthochzeit, a "literary opera" like Alban Berg's Wozzeck and Lulu, is driven by the action, as the composer comments: "The compulsion of the words drives the music." He scored the work for singing and speaking parts, following the text which is at times in prose, at times in poetry. Fortner used dodecaphony but included traditional Spanish instruments, such as mandolins, castanets, tambourine and guitars.[2] Giselher Klebe noted in an introduction to the performance in Düsseldorf that Fortner, who was exposed to twelve-tone technique rather late in life, used the restriction of its rules to heighten expressiveness.[1]

In 1962 Fortner revised the scores of both Bluthochzeit and his 1954 dramatic scene Der Wald (The Forest) and used both of them in the score for a new opera, In seinem Garten liebt Don Perlimplin Belisa with a libretto based on another play by Garcia Lorca (Amor de Don Perlimplín con Belisa en su jardín). This new opera premiered on 10 May 1962 in a production by Cologne Opera at the Schwetzingen Festival.[4][5]


Roles, voice types, premiere cast
Role Voice type Premiere cast, 8 June 1957
Conductor: Günter Wand
The Mother dramatic soprano Nathalie Hinsch-Gröndahl
The Bridegroom speaking voice Wilhelm Otto
The Bride soprano Anny Schlemm
Her Father speaking voice Alexander Schoedler
Leonardo baritone Ernst Grathwol
His Wife contralto Emmy Lisken
Her Mother contralto Irmgard Gerz
The Maid mezzo-soprano Hildegunt Walther
The Child soprano Anita Westhoff
Death (a female beggar) chanteuse Helga Jenkel
The Moon tenor Gerhard Nathge
Three woodcutters speaking voice
Girls, young men, guests, neighbour women chorus

Performance history


Bluthochzeit premiered at the Cologne Opera on 8 June 1957 in a production directed by Eric Bormann and conducted by Günter Wand.[3] It was the first world premiere to be staged in the rebuilt opera house.[6]

The performance by Stuttgart Opera in 1964 was filmed live and released on DVD in 2005. The opera was chosen to open the Opernhaus Düsseldorf with a performance on 12 October 1986 by the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, conducted by Hans Wallat and staged by Kurt Horres.[1] Bluthochzeit was revived in January 2013 with a new production at the Wuppertal Opera, directed by Christian von Götz and conducted by Hilary Griffiths.[7] A performance of this production was filmed and released on DVD in 2014.[8]




  1. ^ a b c d Klebe, Giselher (1986). "Wolfgang Fortners Bluthochzeit" (PDF) (in German). Deutsche Oper am Rhein (republished by Schott Music). Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 December 2014. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Work of the Week – Wolfgang Fortner: Bluthochzeit" (in German). Schott Music. 2013. Archived from the original on 3 July 2013. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  3. ^ a b Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). "Bluthochzeit, 8 June 1957". L'Almanacco di Gherardo Casaglia (in Italian).
  4. ^ Ewen, David (1969). Composers since 1900: A Biographical and Critical Guide. H. W. Wilson Company. pp. 206–207. ISBN 9780824204006. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  5. ^ Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). "In seinem Garten liebt Don Perlimplín Belisa, 10 May 1962". L'Almanacco di Gherardo Casaglia (in Italian).
  6. ^ Richmond Pollock, Emily (2019). Opera After the Zero Hour: The Problem of Tradition and the Possibility of Renewal in West Germany, 1945–1965. Oxford University Press. p. 32. ISBN 9780190063733.
  7. ^ Keim, Stefan (17 January 2013). "Tödliches Gemetzel vor Hochhäusern" (review of the January 2013 revival at Opera Wuppertal). Die Welt (in German)
  8. ^ a b "Bluthochzeit (DVD)" (in German). Schott Music / Wergo. 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  9. ^ York University Library. Holdings record 3084101: Bluthochzeit. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  10. ^ Pluta, Ekkehard (28 November 2007). "Fortner Wolfgang: Bluthochzeit (Lyrische Tragödie in zwei Akten (sieben Bildern))" (review of Günter Wand Edition) (in German). Klassik Heute. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  11. ^ Steiger, Karsten (2008). Opern-Diskographie, p. 633. Walter de Gruyter