Jakob von Gunten (1996-98)

Chamber Opera based on the novel of Robert Walser (Libretto by the Composer)

Publisher: Schott Music


Jakob von Gunten (baritone)
Herr Benjamenta (bass baritone)
Fräulein Lisa Benjamenta (mezzo soprano)
Kraus (bass baritone)
Johann von Gunten (tenor)


The Pupils (Choir):

Heinrich (mezzo soprano)
Schacht (alto)
Schilinski (tenor)
Peter (tenor)
Hans (bass)
Fuchs (bass)
Tremala (bass)

The Girl (silent role)

1(Picc/Afl)-1(CA)-1-Basscl-1(Cbs), 1-1-1-0, Timp/Perc (4), Hp, 1-1-1-1-1

Duration: ca. 95 minutes (Act I 27′, Act II 28′, Act III 40′)

Supported with funds by the Dresdner Zentrum für zeitgenössische Musik

FP: October 9, 2000, Meissen/Saxony
(Coproduction of the Dresden Musikhochschule and the Dresdner Zentrum für zeitgenössische Musik, 14th Dresden Festival of Contemporary Music)
Conductor: Titus Engel
Mise en scène: Andreas Baumann
Stage and Costumes: Michael Köhler

New productions:

Theatre Biel/Solothurn (Switzerland) 2002
Direction: Rainer Holzapfel
Conductor: Franco Trinca
Stage: Franziska Kaiser
First Nights: Biel 14.9., Solothurn 21.9.2002

Theatre St. Gallen (Switzerland) 2010
Direction: Johannes Schmid
Conductor: Christian Schumann
Stage: Michael S. Kraus
First Night: April 15, 2010


Jakob von Gunten, a boy of unknown origin, arrives at the Benjamenta Institute, a school for servants presided over by the brother and sister Benjamenta. At the same time, the pupils introduce themselves. From the beginning Jakob claims certain privileges. The school days would be very boring, if Mr. Benjamenta himself didn’t offer Jakob his friendly affection. But can he trust him? Lisa, Mr. Benjamenta’s sister, is obviously fond of Jakob, and sings about freedom: freedom to decide – she wants Jakob to respond to her love. Rivalry develops: Benjamenta and Lisa alternately try to win over Jakob. Meanwhile, one by one the other pupils leave the institute. Lisa, thwarted and exhausted, dies and with her ends the whole institution. Benjamenta forces Jakob to decide about his life.