Genia or The smile of the machine

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PreviousMay 2021

Opera in two acts (2020)
Music by Tscho Theissing
Libretto by Kristine Tornquist


In German language with German surtitles
World premiere | A commissioned work of the Theater an der Wien in der Kammeroper



Ludwig van Beethoven attends the rehearsal of one of his symphonies, around him his secretary Anton Schindler tirelessly shuffles. Every word of the master is recorded by him in a notebook for posterity. Beethoven is currently very dissatisfied with the rehearsal; his ideas about how fast an Allegro should be and when it should be a prestissimo differ extremely from those of the orchestra. The composer gives vent to his annoyance at the incompetence surrounding him in general sentences about art, Schindler eagerly writes along. As if on cue, the solution to the tempo problem appears in the form of the inventors Johann and Leonhard Mälzel. Beethoven believes in a positive development of the future through art, the Mälzels believe in technology. They present Beethoven with a bar machine that can unswervingly objectively set a fixed bar and thus settle all disputes between orchestra and composer once and for all - they call it a "metronome". However, Beethoven is more interested in the talented assistant to the Mälzels, Elise. The young technician explains how the metronome works, and the composer, who otherwise rejects her, immediately falls in love with her.  Schindlerschreibt also. Elise, for her part, is fascinated by the odd genius.  Leonhard Mälzel sees this development with displeasure, as he wanted to marry Elise himself. Nevertheless, the Mälzels are planning a lucrative collaboration with Beethoven and are developing a mechanical orchestra with 259 instruments, the Panharmonicum. Elise feeds it the score of Wellington's victory. With ear glasses on, Beethoven listens to his composition, while Elise regulates the Panharmonium virtuosically, but after the performance composer and inventor quarrel over possession of the score. Elise now wants to invent a special work for her admired Ludwig that unites technique and art. Leonhard's jealousy increases. For seven months Elise works on her gift, unaware that she is creating a powerful competition for herself and that she will have a lasting influence on the history of music... 

Program and cast

Theater an der Wien

About the Theater an der Wien

The New Opera House is not just any theatre, but the one that Emanuel Schikaneder, the all-round genius, actor, impresario with a flair for organization but above all librettist of The Magic Flute, had built in 1801 in Vienna in keeping with the spirit of Mozart.

To coincide with the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth the Theater an der Wien presents itself as a new opera house from January 2006. As a “season” opera house with productions all the year round the Theater an der Wien carves a new and independent niche in the realm of high-quality culture in Vienna. For twelve months of the year, with one premiere every month, opera will be performed under the “stagione”, or season, system: that means the cast remains unchanged from the first performance to the last one, which guarantees that the very highest international standards are maintained.

The theatre’s modern, accessible approach to music theatre as demonstrated by the works performed, the overall artistic concept Bespielung and the artistes is further underlined by the building itself, its architecture and the vibrancy of its location. The surroundings and materials, the intimate atmosphere and perfect acoustics in the historical theatre prepare the senses to experience beauty. The Theater an der Wien deliberately enters into a symbiotic relationship with its lively surroundings on the Naschmarkt street market and the young cultural scene centred in the Schleifmühl quarter.

How to get there

With public transport:

We can be reached by public transport: 

U1, U2 und U4 Station Karlsplatz, Exit Secession
Bus 59A Station Bärenmühldurchgang
Bus 57A Station Laimgrubengasse, pedestrians via Laimgrubengasse to Linke Wienzeile

Fleischmarkt 24, 1010 Wien

We can be reached by public transport:
U1, U4: Station Schwedenplatz
Tram Linie D (bei Ablenukung über Kai), 1, 2: Station Schwedenplatz
Bus 3A (on workdays)

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