zum Inhalt zur Navigation




Pressebüro der Volksoper Wien

Währinger Straße 78, 1090 Wien

Mag. Eva Koschuh
+43/1/514 44-3410

Sarah Stöger, MA
+43/1/514 44-3412

Lass uns die Welt vergessen - Volksoper 1938

Book by Theu Boermans & music from Gruß und Kuss aus der Wachau and Keren Kagarlitsky

On December 14, 2023, the Volksoper Wien will celebrate its 125th birthday. On the occasion of this anniversary, we are dealing with our own past and telling the stories of those people who were persecuted, expelled and murdered between 1938 and 1945. For this purpose, the Dutch theatre and film director Theu Boermans has written the play Lass uns die Welt vergessen - Volksoper 1938. It is a world premiere with music that already exists: while the ensemble rehearses the operetta Gruß und Kuss aus der Wachau by Jara Beneš, Hugo Wiener, Kurt Breuer und Fritz Löhner-Beda in March 1938, current political life intrudes into the Volksoper. The cheerful entertainment and escapism of the operetta collide with the cold political reality of the Nazi era. The Israeli composer and house conductor Keren Kagarlitsky reconstructed the score of Gruß und Kuss from the Wachau, supplementing it with "degenerate" music and her own compositions. The ensemble members of today play the ensemble members of yesteryear.

Original Stage Design of Gruß und Kuss aus der Wachau © Zeli Smetana
Original Stage Design of Gruß und Kuss aus der Wachau © Zeli Smetana


Operetta has always been escapism, an escape from everyday life into another world, a dream world. But what if this everyday life can no longer be ignored? What if what's happening in the world is so terrible that you can no longer forget it? When the world outside breaks into the perfect operetta world inside? What happens to the musical fantasies?

In the first months of 1938, the political situation in Austria invaded the Volksoper during rehearsals for the operetta Gruß und Kuss aus der Wachau. How do intolerance, discrimination and fascism affect the employees of the Volksoper?

Political discussions and accusations get in the way of constructive collaboration. During the rehearsals, the National Socialists' seizure of power brings about serious changes for the Volksoper: people are removed from their jobs at all levels of the house, from opera singers to conductors, orchestra musicians and librettists. People were persecuted because of their Jewish roots or their political views. Looking into the mirror of the past sometimes means one has to confront a painful period in the history of the Volksoper - we are not trying to avoid that.

In Lass uns die Welt vergessen, director Theu Boermans brings back the cheerful entertainment and escapism of the Beneš operetta to the Volksoper stage and contrasts it with the devastating political reality of the Nazi era.


Lass uns die Welt vergessen is a world premiere with existing music. For the creation of the piece, which will be stages on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the Volksoper Wien, numerous artists and staff members of our theatre have delved deep into history to tell the life stories of those people who were persecuted and driven out of the Volksoper at that time.

In a theatre, everything is in the spotlight. Singers and musicians who enjoy a certain fame in the public eye suffer the same fate as the less famous inhabitants of Vienna. The visible fate of the artists represents the invisible fate of many people.

By telling the story of the Volksoper staff, we preserve the memory of ALL victims. At the same time, we do not lose sight of the actions of the perpetrators, which could happen again at any time, but we also remember the countless who did not raise their voices.

Director Theu Boermans at the conception meeting © Barbara Pálffy
Director Theu Boermans at the conception meeting © Barbara Pálffy

The text for Lass uns die Welt vergessen was written by the successful Dutch theatre and film director Theu Boermans, who has a long history with Vienna. He worked under Hans Gratzer's directorship at the Schauspielhaus Wien, presented an acclaimed version of the Gilgamesh epic at the Akademietheater in 2002 and stages Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Burgtheater in 2007. About the work on Lass uns die Welt vergessen he says:

„Many roles are based on real people, the situations are based on historical facts and events, but this play is a free interpretation of their lives and not a meticulous biography. We have pushed back the historical premiere date of Gruß und Kuss aus der Wachau by a few weeks in order to draw the existing, underlying conflicts more clearly. This piece doesn't show reality, but it shows the truth.

An important source for Theu Boermans' work was Ihre Dienste werden nicht mehr benötigt. Aus der Volksoper vertrieben - Künstlerschicksale 1938, an impressive book written by Dr. Marie-Theres Arnbom in 2018 about displaced artists that used to work in the Volksoper.


Of the original musical material of Gruß und Kuss aus der Wachau, only a piano reduction was found after a long and thorough search. And this piano reduction also contained an alternative, "aryanized" text. Conductor and composer Keren Kagarlitsky reconstructed the Jara Beneš score of Gruß und Kuss aus der Wachau from this piano reduction. And our unsurpassable music archive reconstructed the original sung text by Fritz Löhner-Beda.

It will be the first time since 1938 that this music will be heard again in the same hall for which it was originally written. Keren Kagarlitsky composed additional music and also worked music by ostracized Jewish composers branded as "degenerate" such as Gustav Mahler, Arnold Schoenberg and Viktor Ullmann into the production.

Lass uns die Welt vergessen will be a painful confrontation with our own history, a renewed encounter with the joyful sounds of historical revue operetta, and a fascinating example of theatrical archaeology. The ensemble of today plays the ensemble of yesteryear.

→ To the Press Release