Die andere Frau
Music theatre by Torsten Rasch in ten scenes
Commissioned by the Semperoper, composer Torsten Rasch and writer Helmut Krausser have developed a music theatre work from the biblical story of Abram and his wife Sarai.
"The Other Woman" tells the triangular story of the "surrogate mother" Hagar, who is nevertheless rejected after giving birth to Sarai's son Isaac. The biblical story stands for the emergence of the three monotheistic world religions, for war and peace, hatred, loss of home, love and tolerance. Torsten Rasch incorporates early Babylonian text fragments into his composition and opens a window into a completely different musical culture with passages for the Iranian singer Sussan Deyhim. Originally planned for the 2019/20 season, the Semperoper is finally bringing "The Other Woman" to the stage and inviting its audience to an unusual location: opera plot and audience find their place together on the stage of the Semperoper. The auditorium becomes part of the stage action and allows the audience a different perspective on its traditional place.
Abram and his wife Sarai are fleeing war and famine. In Egypt, where they had found refuge, Sarai had to pretend to be Abram's sister to protect him. But he did not protect her from the Egyptian men. Now she can no longer have children. Sarai is bitter, but Abram continues to trust in God, who has promised him a blessed future in the "promised land" of Canaan. Knowing that Abram must establish a dynasty for this future, Sarai suggests that he have a child with the young slave Hagar and raise this child as an heir.
Abram, proud of his manhood and imbued with the idea of being God's chosen one, commands Hagar to give herself to him and bear his child. But out of jealousy, Sarai soon regrets her plan. Her jealousy grows when Hagar becomes pregnant. Hagar fears for her life and wants to flee into the desert. But there an angel appears to her who persuades her to stay and announces the name of the son: Ishmael. Sarai sees her position as Abram's wife increasingly called into question and refuses to acknowledge the child.
She wants to chase away the concubine Hagar as soon as she has fulfilled her task as surrogate mother. When Abram receives news of the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, Sarai reacts hard-heartedly and without compassion. Then three mysterious guests - in reality three angels - appear and prophesy to Sarai that she will have a son after all: Isaac. Sarai triumphs over Hagar, who points out in vain that Ishmael is Abram's firstborn son. She demands that Abram kill Hagar to end the competition between the two wives and the two sons. But Abram refuses to commit murder and submits to God's will.
Ostensibly to protect her, he gives Hagar her freedom and tells her to flee as quickly as possible. Hagar sees through Abram's cowardly decision and leaves for the desert with her son. The three angels prophesy that both sons will survive and become founding figures of two world religions.