Conductors Vello Pähn, Risto Joost, Lauri Sirp
Stage Director Vilppu Kiljunen
Set and Costume Designer Kimmo Viskari
Lighting Designer Anton Kulagin
Cardillac, the goldsmith: Rauno Elp
Cardillac’s Daughter: Helen Lepalaan
The Officer: Carsten Süss (Germany)
The Gold Merchant: Mart Laur
The Cavalier: Sergiu Saplacan (Romania)
The Lady: Heli Veskus
The Police Chief: Atlan Karp
Citizens: Estonian National Opera Chorus
Drunkards, policemen, carriers, courtiers: Einar Hillep, Andres Kask, Kaire Kasetalu, Kaja Kreitzberg, Mark Oja, Maigret Peetson, Hedi Pundonen, Ranno Rätsep, Martin Urve, Sten Uustalu
Estonian National Opera Orchestra
The protagonist is a goldsmith Cardillac, who fabricates wonderful things and because of his obsession with them he also retrieves them by theft and murder. The plot revolves around the dilemma of revealing to the public that the beloved artist is also the criminal who made an entire city fearful…
Cardillac, written in 1926, is the first of Hindemith’s trilogy of operas about the relationship between the artist and society, the others being Mathis der Maler (1935) and Die Harmonie der Welt (1957). It includes some of the composer’s most engaging music, conveying the opera’s power, strange beauty, and eccentricity sometimes leading to absurdity. Cardillac was one of the most frequently performed operas of the 1920s and went on to become Hindemith’s most successful stage work of all.
A city. The people are panic-stricken because of a series of killings committed by a mysterious murderer. A Police Chief seeks to calm the crowd and promises that the criminal will be punished, because a new method for investigations, called a Burning Chamber, is invented. A Cavalier declares to the Lady that all the victims had bought an object from Cardillac, a goldsmith of unequalled genius. The Lady asks the Cavalier to bring her Cardillac’s most beautiful creation as a proof of his love.
The Lady’s bedroom. The Lady is alone and waiting for the Cavalier to bring her the promised gift. She falls asleep. The Cavalier enters with a golden belt he has bought from Cardillac. A masked man bursts in, kills the Cavalier and disappears with the belt.
Cardillac’s workshop. The goldsmith refuses the gold that the Gold Merchant offers him, judging it to be impure. The Merchant suspects that there is something devilish in Cardillac’s art. He does not believe it to be a coincidence that all the victims were clients of the goldsmith.
Cardillac’s daugher is alone and torn between love and filial devotion. Her lover, the young Officer bursts in and asks her to elope with him. She cannot make up her mind whether to follow him or stay behind. The Officer leaves with a promise to wait for her. She feels discouraged to tell her father about her decision to leave with the Officer. Cardillac hardly listens, as he is more interested in his art than his daughter’s decision.
The King enters with his courtiers and Cardillac shows his works to him, but persuades him not to buy one. The King feels offended and leaves Cardillac’s shop. Alone, Cardillac promises to his artwork that they will never be separated – had the King bought an object, he would have been obliged to kill him. The Officer returns to request his daughter’s hand in marriage and is surprised that Cardillac assents so quickly. He then asks the goldsmith for his most beautiful object and buys a golden chain. The goldsmith is unable to dissuade him from doing so.
A street by night. Cardillac is following the Officer without knowing that the Gold Merchant keeps a close watch on him. However, Cardillac wounds the Officer slightly and the Gold Merchant raises the alarm. The citizens arrest Cardillac and the Gold Merchant accuses him of the murders. The Officer defends the goldsmith, claiming the Merchant to be the guilty one. The Gold Merchant is taken to the Burning Chamber and the crowd celebrates Cardillac at an inn. When tending the Officer’s wound, the Daughter suddenly realises that her father is behind the crimes. The Officer leads the Daughter away. Cardillac returns with the celebrating citizens.
When he understands that the Gold Merchant has been taken to the Burning Chamber to be tortured, he is tormented by his conscience. Cardillac announces to the public, that he knows the identity of the criminal. The crowd closes in on him and threatens to destroy his artwork if he does not reveal the name. Without repenting, Cardillac confesses his crimes and the crowd kills him. Cardillac dies, clutching the golden chain that the Officer had bought.