Die Soldaten Koeln Oper 2018 (detail) View full image

Huge acclaim for François-Xavier Roth and Die Soldaten in Köln

The premiere of Oper Köln's new production of Bernd Alois Zimmermann's Die Soldaten has already been widely acclaimed for setting new standards of performance for this gigantic and fiendishly complex work.

In addition to a 100-piece orchestra, the work features additional percussionists, stage band, jazz combo, recorded tapes and over 20 named sung roles. 

The 360-degree staging, by Carlus Padrissa of La Fura Dels Baus,  places the Gürzenich Orchestra at the very centre of the action.

Further performances 3, 11, 13, 17 and 20 May.

WDR 3 broadcasts a recording of the premiere on Sunday, 6 May at 20:00 (CET)

François-Xavier Roth demonstrates at the Cologne Opera, where "Die Soldaten" premiered in 1965 ... on the occasion of the 100th birthday of the composer, how captivating the bruitism of Bernd Alois Zimmermann ... can actually sound. The GMD proves to be the ideal advocate for the music of the City's great son.

Peter Krause, Concerti

The victory of the production … was due to another lightening flash … in the form of 100 musicians from the Gürzenich Orchestra including 10 drummers, 5-piece jazz combo, harp, celesta, piano and organ - and in the centre of this constantly screaming, beating, shaking monster, as if in the eye of the sound storm, the ordering hand of François-Xavier Roth. It was he who held the reins at this memorable evening for the Cologne Opera. In him, the performance had its lynchpin, the personified viewpoint ... it seemed to us that Roth was on the composer's shoulders for the duration of this excellent performance - and we on his. So we had at the end what we needed, what we hoped for: a fantastic all-round view.

Georg Beck, nmz

The actual turbocharged engines of the evening [are] the gigantic Gürzenich Orchestra and its Music Director, François-Xavier Roth … Roth is known to be a specialist in new music, and now he triumphantly pulls out all the stops. Along the way, that he holds together the huge apparatus with the ... percussionists, stage band, jazz combo, recorded tapes and nearly 20 soloists with impeccable precision is close to a miracle. Even more admirable, however, is the incredible transparency and tonal sophistication with which Roth lets Zimmermann's monster score shine through … Finally, the many historical quotations from music history have been carefully sorted and the disparate collage puzzle pieces are outlined so clearly that the simultaneous structure of the work reveals itself in all its intriguing complexity … Often, Roth lowers the dynamics to allow lyrical moments to blossom.