Das Liebesverbot

Richard Wagner

2h 38 min

Das Liebesverbot (The Ban on Love) is an opera composed by the young Richard Wagner, still in the process of finding his own musical language. After finishing The Fairies, his first completed opera, which was never performed, Wagner was able to present his second one on March 29, 1836 in Magdeburg, but this would be the only performance of the opera in his lifetime. The première was a complete disaster: some of the singers had not learned their parts, and the second night was cancelled when the prima donna’s husband attacked one of the tenors in a fit of jealousy. Wagner gave up further attempts to stage the opera and consigned it to oblivion, describing it as a “sin of my youth”


With such a history it is hardly surprising that Das Liebesverbot has been unfairly considered a minor work by the great German composer. However, this unknown piece is interesting for many reasons. The Ban on Love is an opera that challenges many of our assumptions about Wagner’s music and it is certainly a far cry from its typical density and depth. This work is the young Wagner’s equivalent to Goethe’s Italian Journey: an exaltation of the warm south, sunshine, playfulness, sex, and hedonism.


For the text of the opera, Wagner decided to adapt Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, a play which was then rarely performed because it was regarded as immoral. Making substantial changes to the original plot, the composer presented a stinging critique of the puritanism of contemporary German society.


Wagner moves the action to Sicily, where the Regent is Friedrich, a rigid German ruler who is unable to understand the joie de vivre of the locals. He decides to discipline them by banning Carnival, brothels, cabarets, and love outside marriage.


The musical influences on the work are quite clear. Wagner, reacting against the “pedantry” and “erudition” around him, celebrates and pays homage to the virtues of Italian music with frenetic rhythms, vibrant, powerful melodies full of character, a certain interest in repetition and simple harmonies. His admiration for composers like Bellini and Rossini can be seen in moments that are almost direct quotes of Il barbiere di Siviglia or Guillaume Tell. There is also a strong French influence in the format of the comic opera and the most characteristic grand operas of the period, such as La Muette de Portici, by Auber, and Robert le Diable, by Meyerbeer.


Another interesting point to note is that the score of this opera already hints at Wagner’s future work. There is a great deal of Lohengrin in it, and the character of Ponzio Pilato is clearly a forerunner of Mime. The Ban on Love is also the first time that Wagner used the leitmotif technique structurally, especially the theme of the ban on love decreed by Friedrich This recurs throughout the work, alternating between solemn and ironic.


In short, this is a little-known but interesting work which is well worth discovering. It provides considerable insight into the development of the mature Richard Wagner. To commemorate the 4th Centenary of the death of Shakespeare, it would be hard to find a more appropriate piece.

Grosse komische Oper en dos actos



Music by Richard Wagner (1813 – 1883)

Libretto by Richard Wagner, based on the play Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare

Premiered at the Stadttheater, Magdeburgo on March 29, 1836

New Teatro Real production, in coproduction with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London and the Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires

Principal Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro Real


Artistic team

Conductor | Ivor Bolton

Stage director | Kasper Holten

Set and costumes designer | Steffen Aarfing

Lighting designer | Bruno Poet

Choreographer | Signe Fabricius

Chorus master | Andrés Máspero

Assistant to the conductor | Francesc Prat

Assistant to the stage director | Barbara Lluch

Set and costumes designer collaborator | Rebekka Bentzen

Assistant to the choreographer | Alejandra González

Assistant to the costumes designer | Tiziana Magris

Assistant to the choreographer | Tiziana Fracchiolla

Diction coach | Roxane Taghikhani



Friedrich | Christopher Maltman 

Luzio | Peter Lodahl 

Claudio | Ilker Arcayürek 

Antonio | David Alegret

Angelo | David Jerusalem

Isabella | Manuela Uhl

Mariana | Maria Miró

Brighella | Ante Jerkunica

Danieli | Isaac Galán

Dorella | María Hinojosa

Pontio Pilato | Francisco Vas

Actors dancers | Carlos Rodas, Álvaro Hurtado, Sergio Mariottini, Sergio Arce, David Ventosa, Nacho Rodríguez, Amaury Reinoso, Santiago Cano, Gabriel Nicolá y Jordi Casas.



Teatro Real
Richard Wagner
Semyon Bychkov, Claus Guth

The première of Parsifal in major opera houses was not until 1914, after the Bayreuth Festival had maintained the exclusivity of the opera since its opening in 1882. It was a huge success, in part because the opera score was to become one of the most momumental and inspiring scores in music history. As well, its turbulent theme was associated with the Great War and post-war era. Parsifal arrives after years of wanderings through the wilderness to save the Temple of the Grail, encapsulating the emotional climate in Europe at the time, a period of great sacrifice and hardship, collective disorientation and the desperate search for a leader.


Parsifal,  the innocent, compassionate "guileless fool", embodies the spirit of redemption. This is the starting point for the staging by German director Claus Guth. One of the most important names in contemporary staging,  he made his début at the Teatro Real with this most acclaimed production. The action takes place in  a  dilapidated hospital for war-wounded soldiers. Inspired by the sanatorium in The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann, it embodies the trauma and despair following World War I, when hopes for a new leader led to disaster.


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Staatsoper Unter den Linden
Richard Wagner
Matthias Pintscher, Calixto Bieito

Bieito's interpretation of Wagner‘s Lohengrin deals with love, hate, jealousy and hope, but above all with man‘s imperative need to believe in something. To visualise these two contrasting worlds, Bieito creates two settings on stage: the world of fairy tales (the forest) and reality (the court room). According to Bieito, fairy tales are as relevant today as they once were and are not only fables we tell our children, but a necessity in adulthood as they mirror life itself by offering both good and bad. 


Teatro Real
Richard Wagner
Pablo Heras-Casado, Àlex Ollé

Der Fliegende Höllander (The Flying Dutchman) by Richard Wagner, one of the emblematic masterpieces of Romantic opera, comes to the Teatro Real. In this production by La Fura dels Baus, the conflict between good and bad, light and darkness, is but a reflection of a tormented and imprisoned soul whose free spirit has been appropriated.


The Dutchman is damned, condemned to sail forever, yet his utmost desire is to be released from the inferno of his doomed vessel and return to a life on land. The story has an intense mirrorlike quality in its score, it has all the ingredients of what was to come with Wagner's mature artistry.

Teatro Real
Richard Wagner
Pablo Heras-Casado, Robert Carsen

Das Rheingold is the first part of the colossal Der Ring des Nibelungen by Richard Wagner, and this will be the second time it is seen on the Teatro Real stage since the theatre’s reopening in 1997. 


Pablo Heras-Casado, Principal Guest Conductor of the Teatro Real leads a cast of renowned Wagnerians including Greer Grimsley, Sarah Connolly and Samuel Youn in Robert Carsen’s bleak vision of the story. The Canadian stage director sets the prologue of The Ring in the desolation of our polluted world, the scene where the characters in this grandiose conflict will continue to be portrayed during the coming seasons.