A l'extrême bord du monde

staging and scenography for Harold Noben’s chamber opera – la Monnaie / de Munt Brussels (BE), November 2020


Petropolis, 22 February 1942. Writer Stefan Zweig and his wife Lotte are having a chat in their favourite café. Far from their “spiritual homeland Europe”, the Austrian couple are preparing for another departure: a goodbye that will shake up and divide the intellectual and literary world, while also sealing the fate of these two lonely souls. “Of their own will and in clear mind”, they decide to commit suicide together.

The young Belgian composer Harold Noben wrote a chamber opera for mezzo, tenor and piano quartet about these tragic final days. His piece was composed under the guidance of Benoît Mernier and with the support of the European Network of Opera Academies (ENOA). La Monnaie engaged stage director Mien Bogaert to presents the result of this unique collaboration. He draws parallels between the isolated existence of the Zweigs in South America during World War II and the COVID-isolation we experience today.

Being connected to everything and everyone has taken on almost absurd dimensions. In times of isolation, this is a curse rather than a blessing. Stefan and Lotte read in South American newspapers how the old, culturally sophisticated Europe went up in smoke during the Second World War and received telegraph messages from relatives who had experienced the bombing of London. Today, the internet informs us through push notifications and breaking stories about the pain being suffered on all continents. Isolated in our living rooms, taking care of plants and pets in the absence of real human contact, this information often comes in harder than is psychologically healthy.


Harold Noben, conductor
Mien Bogaert, stage direction and set
Benjamien Lycke, video
Sophie van der Stegen, dramaturgy


Valentin Thill, Stefan Zweig
Lila Hajosi, Lotte Zweig
Aurora Piano Quartet


November 4, 2022 at la Monnaie / de Munt Brussels (BE)


„Lo scrittore si confronta con la moglie, la coppia sembra simbiotica ma in realtà lui resta centrato tutto su di sé, e tutto questo è messo ben in evidenza dalla regia di Mien Bogaert che cura anche il bell’allestimento.“

– Il gironale della musica