Verurteilung des Lukullus, Die (‘The Trial of Lucullus’)
- Fritz Hennenberg
(‘The Trial of Lucullus’)
Opera in 12 scenes by Paul Dessau to a libretto by Bertolt Brecht from his radio play Das Verhör des Lukullus; Berlin, Deutsche Staatsoper, 12 October 1951.
Brecht suggested that Dessau might set his radio play (written shortly before the outbreak of World War II) as a libretto in the mid-1940s, during their exile in the USA, but the composer did not begin work on it until 1948, after his return to Berlin. Presenting a staged version of the radio play meant that changes were necessary, and there were also to be topical references to the collapse of the Nazi regime and, in the parable, to the Nuremberg war trials. Set in the kingdom of the dead, the opera concerns Lukullus [Lucullus] (tenor), a Roman general and epicure, whose destiny is being decided by a Schattengericht (‘shadow court’). Characters from his life testify to his military actions, which caused the death of thousands of soldiers, though set against this are his culinary achievements: bringing back a variety of cherry tree from Asia and introducing a new method of cooking. In the radio play judgment is left to the audience but in the opera Lucullus is damned (‘Ins Nichts mit ihm’)....