Comœdia de Christi resurrectione - Plot

Prelude: lamenting women are mourning the dead Christ in his grave. Sentry men are keeping watch in front of the grave. The Devil, initially barely visible, sits in the background on the slab of the tomb. The sentry men talk of the fate of the »special man« who lies buried here of whom it has been predicted that he will rise from the grave after three days.

The Devil gradually joins in the conversation, although the sentry men are uncertain as to whether he is a »nutcase« or a harmless member of the family. He sends the sentry men to sleep and recites a spell to seal the grave. The sentry men are replaced by a new watch.The sentry men again speak of the mysterious life of the Jewish prophet and worker of miracles at whose grave they are keeping watch. They play cards. The Devil wins the last game. At this moment, there is thunder and the earth moves: the grave is open.

Choirboys intone the chorale »Christ has risen«.
The Devil who has been outwitted breaks out in an orgy of swearing and mutilates himself. The choir of angels sing in jubilation.[1]

 

(Angels’ chorus, stage photo of the first televised performance 1956)
(Angels’ chorus, stage photo of the first televised performance 1956)

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[1] from Werner Thomas in: Pipers Enzyklopädie des Musiktheaters, Vol. 4, Munich 1991, p.581 ff.
Image: BR television recording

First performance

Plot