Winner of the 2016 Munich Opera Festival Prize


commissioned by the Bavarian State Opera


"Mauerschau" is a new opera that takes the Penthesilea myth as a starting point for an epistemological investigation of war and its public representation. Over the course of 12 "pictures", the opera presents the multiple, contradictory versions of this ancient myth about the Amazon queen and her beloved foe Achilles, staging Penthesilea's crisis of doubt as she seeks to verify the truth about her actions on the battlefield. Did she kill Achilles? Or did he kill her? How can she ever know? How can we?

The title "Mauerschau" refers to "teichoscopia," the theatrical device invented by the Greeks, whereby an actor looks out over the audience and describes what he or she sees "over there". In Berheide and Stebbins' opera, this ancient mode of staging scenes of war and violence becomes a gateway for taking on the ethical dilemma of drone warfare, and what, since the opera's premiere, has come to be known as "fake news".

"Mauerschau" was awarded the 2016 Festspielpreis of the Opernfestspiele



"amazing and extreme - a wild experience."

Süddeutsche Zeitung

Egbert Tholl, "Der Weg zur Erkenntnis"

"Berheide was able to rely on a libretto by the evening’s director, Amy Stebbins, that allowed repeated permeation by other texts from Kleist (for instance, from “Homburg”), Karoline von Günderrode, and even Joschka Fischer and Donald Rumsfeld. Kleist's play was fanned out like a dream diary, in which all comes together, reality and appearance become inseparable from one another. . . The stage for this was superb [...] Flexible projections of frames divided this space again and again, even generating virtual prison cells; the green light suggested those night-vision videos (the kind we see from current wars) and, together with the linear design, created a surreal, unsettling 3D effect."

Die Deutsche Bühne

Klaus Kalchschmid, "Küsse, Bisse"

"In [Stebbins'] version . . . The text collage also makes the opera into an honorable antiwar piece. ... The massively applauded premiere of this in no way conceptually simple work had a lot to offer for both eye and ear. It is an encouragement to the Munich Opera, which path to follow in the present day."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Max Nyffeler, "A Jewel of the Opera Festival"


music Hauke Berheide     libretto Amy Stebbins    musical direction Oksana Lyniv

stage direction Amy Stebbins     set & video Luftwerk     costumes Belén Montoliú

light design Benedikt Zehm     dramaturgy Malte Krasting

chorus master Sören Eckhoff


Penthesilea Adriana Bastidas-Gamboa     Achilles Edwin Crossley-Mercer

Messenger Hildegard Schmahl

Penthesilea's High Shadow Leela Subramaniam     Penthesilea's Low Shadow Hanna Herfurtner

Achilles' High Shadow Joshua Owen Mills     Achilles' Low Shadow Frederic Jost

Bavarian State Orchestra

Bavarian State Opera Extra Chorus