Die Ersten Menschen

The First Men
Rudi Stephan (1887-1915)

A majestic composition to tell the story of the first family in the bible, torn between sexual impulse and spiritual life.

18 to 20 april 2024

Die ersten Menschen is set in a vast primitive landscape, where the first family on Earth cannot avoid mutual confrontation. Eve feels distant from Adam and thinks back nostalgically to their younger days. Their children, Cain and Abel have widely differing points of view on life. Cain feels closer to nature and is consumed by sexual desire, while Abel lives according to his religious beliefs and plays the role of the perfect son. Cain sees his mother as the archetypal woman he has been looking for and he is jealous of his mother’s love for Abel. Envy leads him to kill his own brother. Left alone, Adam and Eve understand what fate has in store for humanity.

The first two humans on Earth were in love. The third man killed the fourth. Die ersten Menschen tells the story of the first family in the Biblical history of humanity. Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel. In Die ersten Menschen, the well-known bible story is interpreted from a completely different angle. The German author Otto Borngräber (1874-1916) gave his script, based on his own work, the subheading of ‘Erotisches Mysterium’ (An Erotic Mystery). His symbolic interpretation of the bible story is clearly inspired by the highly revered psychoanalysis at the time: Freud is listening in the background. Borngräber shows how the primitive family is torn apart by the tension between sexual impulse and a covetous life, on the one hand and a spiritual existence on the other. In the close family circle, these two brothers represent two completely different outlooks. The erotic and incestuous nature of the story caused a huge controversy when the play was performed, and it was subsequently censored.

The team

Composer: Rudi Stephan (1887-1915).
Libretto: Otto Borngräber.
Musical director: Robert Treviño.
Stage director: Calixto Bieito.
Set Design: Rebecca Ringst.
Costumes: Ingo Krügler.
Lighting design: Michael Bauer.
Video: Sarah Derendinger.
Cast: Annette Dasch, Daniel Schmutzhard, Simon Neal, John Daszak.
Orchestra: Euskadiko Orkestra.
Assistant director: Nico Weggemans.
Assistant musical director: Roberto Baltar.
Original production: Dutch National Opera, Amsterdam.
Executive production: Arriaga Theatre, working with Euskadiko Orchestra.



Day 18 – 19:30 h.
Day 20 – 19:00 h.


22 - 52€ /discounts

Friends of Arriaga:
from 25% to 35% DISCOUNT.

EUSKADIKO ORKESTRA subscribers: see reservations localities for subscribers

Groups, young people, over-65s, unemployed, large families and people with 33%+ disability:

Last minute discount (for above-mentioned groups, except Friends of Arriaga and groups):

Last minute discount for Young Friends of Arriaga:

People with disabilities who use wheelchairs:
50% DISCOUNT (in proscenium balcony and one accompanying person)


100 min.