Alban Berg


Nov 5 - Dec 3

Acclaimed artist and director William Kentridge (The Nose) applies his unique theatrical vision to Berg’s notorious femme fatale who shatters lives, including her own. Soprano Marlis Petersen has excited audiences around the world with her portrayal of the tour-de-force title role, a wild journey of love, obsession, and death. Susan Graham joins a winning cast, including Daniel Brenna and Johan Reuter.

“A masterful Lulu at the Met… visually stunning and superbly performed… an ideal fit for William Kentridge’s darkly fantastical artistic sensibility…” —The New York Times

“★★★★ The evening offered revelations.” —Financial Times

“Powerful… Marlis Petersen was dazzling.” —The Washington Post

“Spellbinding… if there’s such a thing as a gold standard for opera, this is it.” —The New York Observer

“Kentridge’s endlessly fertile imagination proved [Lulu’s] equal… Petersen, the world’s reigning Lulu, inhabited the role with astonishing command.” —The Wall Street Journal

Production a gift of The Kirsh Family Foundation

Co-production of the Metropolitan Opera, Dutch National Opera, and English National Opera

Read Synopsis Read Program
  • Sung In
  • German
  • Met Titles In
  • English
  • German
  • Spanish
  • Estimated Run Time
  • 3 hrs 51 mins
  • House Opens
  • Act I 63 mins
  • Intermission 30 mins
  • Act II 53 mins
  • Intermission 30 mins
  • Act III 55 mins
  • Opera Ends
New Production Nov 5 - Dec 3

This production has completed for the season.

Be sure to check out our remaining productions on the season list.

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A scene from Lulu

World premiere: Opera House, Zurich, 1937 (unfinished version); Théâtre National de l’Opéra, Paris, 1979 (three-act version). Met premiere: March 18, 1977.
One of the most important—not to mention notorious—stage works of the 20th century, Lulu is the drama of a young woman who sexually and emotionally dominates a wide range of willing victims, both male and female. Herself a victim of society, she seems to embody all the frightening aspects of the human condition, a combination of primal instinct and distinctly modern amorality. Berg’s score employs the twelve-tone technique pioneered by his teacher Arnold Schoenberg but in a keenly dramatic way that makes it accessible to all kinds of audiences. Berg died before completing Act III of the opera, and Lulu was first performed as a fragment. Efforts to finish the score based on Berg’s notes were hindered by his widow and only realized, after her death, by the Austrian composer Friedrich Cerha, in 1977.


Alban Berg (1885–1935) came of age amid an explosion of artistic and intellectual creativity in Vienna. Among the most visionary and influential composers of his (or any) time, his music infuses the techniques of Schoenberg with the grandeur of such late Romantic composers as Gustav Mahler. Frank Wedekind (1864–1918) was a German playwright whose works were searing critiques of bourgeois society and its sexual hypocrisy. Among his most famous works is the 1891 drama Frühlings Erwachen (Spring Awakening). The Lulu plays, Erdgeist (Earth Spirit, 1895) and Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora’s Box, 1904), were banned from public performance throughout Wedekind’s lifetime.

Production William Kentridge

Co-Director Luc De Wit

Projection Designer Catherine Meyburgh

Set Designer Sabine Theunissen

Costume Designer Greta Goiris

Lighting Designer Urs Schönebaum

Alban Berg


Alban Berg


A scene from Lulu

The drama unfolds in Vienna, Paris, and London. No time is specified in the libretto, but references to current events (revolution in Paris) and characters (Jack the Ripper) suggest a late-19th-century setting. The Met’s new production takes its visual inspiration from the period of the opera’s composition.


The score of Lulu is built on an elaborate technique based on so-called “rows” of twelve notes to encapsulate ideas and feelings. This compositional system, devised by Arnold Schoenberg, replaces the traditional theory of harmony of the Classical and Romantic era with a new structure in which all twelve notes within an octave are treated equally. But there are also several self-contained units in Lulu that recall earlier forms, with such titles as “Chorale,” “Canon,” and “Canzonetta.” While the music contains no melody in the conventional sense, there are recognizable themes representing characters and relationships, allowing audiences to appreciate this extraordinary score whether or not they’re familiar with twelve-tone style.

Met History

Berg’s Lulu had its Met premiere in 1977. When it was revived in 1980, James Levine conducted Teresa Stratas (pictured) in the title role, in the first Met presentation of the opera’s three-act version, completed posthumously from Berg’s sketches.

A scene from Lulu