Photo: Astrid Ackermann


Composition Commission issued to Hans Thomalla: Dark Spring

Nationaltheater Mannheim, Germany

Commissioned by Nationaltheater Mannheim and funded by the EvS Music Foundation German composer Hans Thomalla will be composing Dark Spring, an opera in eleven scenes for four soloists, instrumental ensemble and sound direction. The music, concept and text arrangement come care of Hans Thomalla while the lyrics are being written by American poet and journalist Joshua Clover. The opera Dark Spring presents a reinterpretation of Frank Wedekind‘s theatrical piece Frühlingserwachen (Spring Awakening) that appeared in 1891. While Frank Wedekind‘s play focuses on the actions of a group of adolescents under great pressure from repressive sexual norms, demands to succeed at school and an authoritarian generation of parents – pressure that nips all individual development in the bud – the opera presents an almost converse situation. The young men and women in Dark Spring appear like a “cool” generation in a cold society – teenagers or young adults who have learnt to hide their feelings and vulnerabilities in a world marked by constant competition. The pressure to conform to moral norms that define society in Wedekind’s original has given way to the credo of extreme individuality. Taking the place of traditional implicit and explicit sexual taboos is a post-capitalist ideal of ultimate individual freedom and risk-taking: everyone becomes a sole entrepreneur of their work, their biography, their longings. The non-committal nature of short, non-binding encounters replaces real relationships. However, under the weightless, shiny surface of irony and lightness shines that longing for real, immediate self-feeling and for unguarded expression. The music of "Dark Spring" is determined by the continual movement between pop music and its stereotypes on the one hand and the sound noises of New Music still appearing free of committal conventions of expression on the other. Even if the harsh confrontations of Wedekind’s original in the opera at first sight give way to a much calmer, less turbulent surface another conflict shows through. This is the conflict between feeling, meeting and opening up to your fears and a longing to feel yourself and others and to find one’s own expression for this desire.


March 9, 2019
Nationaltheater Mannheim

Further Performances:
March 10 – July 31, 2019

Further Information: