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Xerxes | Georg Friedrich Händel tickets

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Xerxes | Georg Friedrich Händel

Venue: Komische Oper Berlin

Behrenstraße 55-57
10117 Berlin
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Event details
Composer: Georg Friedrich Händel


King Xerxes, looking up from contemplation of his beloved plane tree, sees Romilda, the daughter of his vassal Ariodate, and makes up his mind to marry her. However Romilda and Xerxes' brother, Arsamene, love each other, while Romilda's sister, Atalanta, is also determined to make Arsamene hers. Amastre, Xerxes' fiancée, forsaken by him for Romilda, disguises herself as a man and observes Xerxes.

Xerxes banishes Arsamene, who sends a note to Romilda through his servant Elviro, disguised as a flower vendor, pledging his eternal fidelity; he gives it to Atalanta to pass on, and she promptly hatches a plot. She tells Elviro that Romilda has given up on Arsamene and decided to be queen, and shows the note to Xerxes, claiming that it was addressed to herself. Xerxes determines to marry Arsamene off to Atalanta and shows the note to Romilda, who nevertheless decides to stay true to the man she loves.

The scene changes to the bridge over the Hellespont. Xerxes tells Ariodate that his daughter Romilda must wed, by the king's command, a member of Xerxes' family, equal in blood to himself. Xerxes pursues Romilda until Amastre-in-disguise starts a fight as a distraction. Romilda persuades Xerxes to let her deal with the problem, and is pleased and gratified to learn that Amastre started it to rescue her. Arsamene and Romilda meet again and fight until Elviro drags Atalanta on to explain matters, and she declares that she'll find someone else. Elviro remarks on a storm threatening the bridge, then sings a ditty to Bacchus. Romilda and Arsamene are joyfully reunited, although she then has to hide him while his brother presses his suit. Romilda tells Xerxes that he must have her father's consent before she can obey the king's command; Arsamene is displeased.

Xerxes reiterates to Ariodate that Romilda must wed a member of Xerxes' family, equal in blood to himself, who will appear at his home; Ariodate mistakenly thinks he is referring to his brother Arsamene rather than himself, and happily goes home to prepare the wedding. Xerxes then tells Romilda that she will marry him. Romilda reveals that Arsamene has kissed her; Xerxes declares that he will kill his own brother, and Romilda agrees to marry Xerxes to spare Arsamene's life.

Arsamene and Romilda arrive at Ariodate's place, where he happily announces that they are to marry by King Xerxes' command. Disbelieving, they joyfully do so. After Arsamene and Romilda wed, Xerxes arrives, ready for his wedding and not at all happy to learn that his vassal has just married his bride off to his brother. When Amastre-in-disguise appears, Xerxes is calling out for someone to avenge him and wants to know what Amastre-in-disguise has been doing popping in and out of the entire opera; Amastre asks whether he wants her to kill the traitor, the one who, having been so dearly loved, went off chasing another. When he demands that she do so, she reveals herself to Xerxes, who becomes ashamed of his faithlessness and tells her to go ahead and kill him. Amastre, still in love with him, refuses, and Xerxes offers her his queen's crown once more.

Program details


Musical Direction: Konrad Junghänel
Staging: Stefan Herheim
Stage Design: Heike Scheele
Costumes: Gesine Völlm
Dramaturgy: Alexander Meier-Dörzenbach, Ingo Gerlach
Chorus: David Cavelius
Lighting: Franck Evin


Xerxes: Stephanie Houtzeel
Arsamenes: Franziska Gottwald
Amastris: Ezgi Kutlu
Romilda: Nina Bernsteiner
Atalanta: Nora Friedrichs
Ariodates: Philipp Meierhöfer
Elviro: Hagen Matzeit

Komische Oper Berlin

Since the construction of the venue in Behrenstraße (which opened as the “Theater Unter den Linden” in 1892), the Komische Oper Berlin has at various times been a consistent international trend-setter in the world of musical theatre. As the leading theatre for operettas and revues in the 1920s, it fundamentally shaped the Berlin, and hence international, entertainment scene. Following the Second World War, Walter Felsenstein’s concept of musical theatre revolutionised European opera, and to this day it remains an important point of reference for the great majority of musical theatre directors seeking to be contemporary in their work. This inspirational international influence as a trend-setter in innovative musical theatre is reflected in the many artistic careers which began at the Komische Oper Berlin – including those of the directors Götz Friedrich and Harry Kupfer as well as the conductors Otto Klemperer, Kurt Masur, Yakov Kreizberg, and Kirill Petrenko.

In 2012, Barrie Kosky took over from Andreas Homoki as the Artistic Director of the Komische Oper Berlin. He was joined by Henrik Nánási, the new General Music Director. The Komische Oper Berlin is versatile and flexible to a degree which is unusual for an opera house. This and the fixed ensemble of singer-performers are key characteristics of the Komische Oper Berlin under Kosky’s directorship. Kosky’s conceptual approach draws not only on the tradition set by Felsenstein, but also on the venue’s pre-war traditions, which were strongly shaped by Jewish actors and have hitherto received less attention. Felsenstein’s vision of opera as a form of musical theatre in which music and action are equally important components of a production is combined by Kosky with the demand that musical theatre should provide an experience which appeals to all the senses and which encompasses musical drama in all its forms, from the classic Mozart repertoire through to genre-defying projects.


The Komische Oper Berlin is located in the heart of the city, between the Brandenburg Gate, the Museumsinsel, and Checkpoint Charlie. The theatre building in Behrenstraße was built at the end of the 19th century according to plans drawn up by Austrian architects Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer. The building was destroyed during the last days of the war, although fortunately the stage and auditorium survived almost unscathed. The Komische Oper was ceremonially inaugurated on 23rd December 1947 with Walter Felsenstein's production of Johann Strauss's Die Fledermaus. In 1965/1966 there was a fundamental expansion of the entire complex, designed by the architect Kunz Nierade. The neo-baroque, richly decorated auditorium - which today provides space for 1,190 visitors complete with new, comfortable seating and an integrated, multilingual translation system - was largely left in the original condition dating back to its creation in 1892, while the main facade in Behrenstraße was designed in the functional style of the 1960s. In 2005 the foyer was given a contemporary re-design by architect Stephan Braunfels, and now offers over 1,000 square metres of elegantly mirrored floor space for the provision of refreshments during intervals, for special events, and for chamber concerts, among other things.


The entrance to the Komische Oper Berlin is located in the Behrenstr., around 400 m from the Brandenburg Gate. 


Public transport

Local Trains and Trams 
Friedrichstrasse: RE 1, RE 2, RE 7 and RB 14; S 1, S 2, S 25, S 5, S 7
Brandenburger Tor: S 1, S 2, S 25

Underground Trains 
Französische Strasse, Stadtmitte: U 6
Stadtmitte, Mohrenstrasse: U 2
Brandenburger Tor: U 55

Unter den Linden, Friedrichstrasse: TXL, 100, 147, 200, N 2, N 6

Friedrichstrasse: M 1, 12

Friedrichstadt Passage Car Park
Entrance from Jägerstrasse or Taubenstrasse, €4.50 per day (24 hours)

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