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Work of the Week – Christian Jost: Death Knocks


On 20 December 2015, Christian Jost’s opera Death Knocks will begin its run at the Stadttheater Gießen in central Germany.

The 35-minute opera for mezzo-soprano, baritone, and chamber orchestra is based on Woody Allen’s play of the same name. In the play, dress manufacturer Nat Ackermans is unexpectedly visited by an attractive woman who claims to be Death. She says she has come to take him away with her, but Nat does not initially believe her or care about her mission — after all, he is a healthy and successful businessman. However, eventually realizing that he is indeed facing death, he challenges her with a game of Gin Rummy and negotiates a deal: if he loses, he will accept his fate; if he wins, Death has to grant him one more day.

Death: You want to come along now?
Nat: I’m sorry, but I cannot believe you are Death.
Death: Why? What did you expect, Liz Taylor?

The Gießen production of Death Knocks will form a double bill with Gustav Holst’s opera Savitri, with a total of four performances taking place until 19 February 2016. The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra will then present the work in two concert performances in Munich and Tutzing in March 2016.

photo: © Rosa Frank, Hamburgisches Staatstheater (2009) / photo ed