KLEIDER MACHEN LEUTE Comes to the National Theatre in Prague

Performances will run through 18 June 2023 before picking up again in March 2024.

KLEIDER MACHEN LEUTE Comes to the National Theatre in Prague

Kleider Machen Leute is now playing at The National Theatre in Prague. Performances will run through 18 June 2023 before picking up again in March 2024.

The Austrian composer Alexander Zemlinsky possessed an acute sense of wry humour. He found in the Swiss author Gottfried Keller's story from the collection Die Leute von Seldwyla (The People of Seldwyla), blending strands of allegoric fairy tale, satire and irony, an ideal subject for his opera Kleider machen Leute (Clothes Make the Man), a music comedy about hypocrisy. Zemlinsky depicts the adventure of Wenzel Strapinski, a tailor's apprentice, who arrives in a small provincial town whose denizens, due to his fashionable clothes and noble parlance, deem him to be a count. The local notables pamper the newcomer, invite him to lavish parties and shower him with gifts. Strapinski even gets engaged to the town administrator's daughter, who falls in love with the mysterious romantic stranger...

How does the story about the clothes that make the man end? Featuring splendid rhythmic motifs, striking harmonic inversions and combinations of orchestral colours, Zemlinsky's music wittily renders the micro-world of the provincial town, its inhabitants, their selfishness, stupidity and envy, the banality of their conversations, and even such details as the smell of coffee and tobacco smoke. "I sew and sew, we need burghers and dandies in tail-coats, soldiers, doctors and all the others! Only clothes make the man", sings Zemlinsky's hero, whose folk melody passes throughout the opera as the key musical and semantic leitmotif. The opera's original version premiered in 1910 at the Wiener Volksoper, conducted by the composer himself. In 1922, Zemlinsky presented its revised version at the Neues Deutsches Theater (today's State Opera) in Prague, where he held the post of Opera director. Now, more than a century later, the piece is returning to the venue where its second and final version was first performed. Our new adaptation of Kleider machen Leute has been undertaken by the Dutch stage director Jetske Mijnssen, who has garnered acclaim in Berlin (Komische Oper), Amsterdam, Zurich, Graz, etc.

The production is part of the Musica non grata cycle.


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