Der Silbersee
Ein Wintermärchen

Play with music, in three acts.
Book and lyrics by Georg Kaiser.

Olim's castle, from the original production, Leipzig, 1933.


It is winter and hunger has struck the land around the Silver Lake. Severin and his compatriots break into a grocery store to steal food; as they escape Olim the policeman shoots Severin and takes him to the prison hospital. Olim then has an attack of conscience and decides to change the records so that Severin is set free. Around this time, Olim happens to win the lottery, and he buys a castle with the proceeds. He takes Severin there with him to nurse him back to health.

Olim hires Frau von Luber and Baron Laur to maintain the castle, and they immediately start to conspire to take it from him. Then von Luber's niece Fennimore finds out that Olim is the one who shot Severin. In a rage, Severin chases Olim to an attic room. As Olim hides, von Luber brings him a document to sign, which in reality will cede the castle to her and Laur. Her revenge cannot be completed, though, because Fennimore manages to heal the breach between Olim and Severin. Von Luber throws her out, then reveals her trick to Olim, so that Olim and Severin too must leave the castle on a stormy winter night. In despair, they walk toward the Silver Lake in order to drown themselves, but when they reach it, winter turns to spring while the lake remains a sheet of ice, which they walk across to new hope.

Song list

Performance Information

English title: The Silver Lake, A Winter's Tale
Singing roles -- Olim (baritone), Severin (tenor), Frau von Luber (mezzo-soprano), Fennimore (soprano), Baron Laur (tenor), Lottery Agent (tenor), Four Comrades of Severin (two baritones, two basses), Two Shopgirls (sopranos), chorus, SATB.
Speaking roles -- a fat policeman, an old doctor, a young doctor, a nurse, a servant, people.
Orchestra: 2 (2 picc).1.2.1;; piano, harp, timp, perc; strings.
Duration: full evening, 70 minutes music
Authorized Translations: English -- John Eaton

Principal productions


Nonesuch DB-79003   New York City Opera
Julius Rudel, cond.
(English adaptation)
Capriccio 60 011-2
Capriccio 29110
Wolfgang Schmidt, Hans Korte, Hildegard Heichele, Eva Tamassy, 
Pro Musica Köln, König Ensemble, Kölner Rundfunkorchester, 
Jan Latham-König, cond.
RCA Red Seal 09026-63447-2
Stephen Alder  (Baritone)
Graham Clark  (Tenor)
Helga Dernesch  (Soprano)
H. K. Gruber  (Baritone)
Katarina Karneus  (Mezzo Soprano)
Heinz Kruse  (Tenor)
Juanita Lascarro  (Soprano)
Gidon Saks  (Bass)
Andrew Weale
Paul Whelan  (Baritone)
Catrin Wyn-Davies  (Soprano)
Heinz Zednik  (Tenor)
London Sinfonietta
Markus Stenz, cond.


Sechs Stücke aus dem Silbersee (1933)
For voice and piano.
Texts by Georg Kaiser. Published by Universal Edition: UE 10471
Song list
  • Severin und vier Burschen
  • Die beiden Verkäuferinnen
  • Der Lotterie-agent
  • Lied der Fennimore
  • Cäsars Tod
  • Das Lied vom Schlaraffenland
  • Suite from Der Silbersee
    Arranged for orchestra by Karel Salomon.


    Orchestra: 2 (picc).2 (Eng hn).2.2;; harp, piano (celesta), perc; strings; voice ad lib.
    Duration: 23 minutes
    First performance: May, 1954, Jerusalem, Jerusalem Radio, orchestra and conductor unknown.


    Vox/Turnabout TV 34760 M.I.T. Symphony Orchestra; David Epstein, cond.
    Suite from Der Silbersee
    Concert adaptation made by David Drew
    for soprano, mezzo, two tenors, two baritones, SATB chorus, and orchestra.


    Orchestra: 2 (2 picc).1.2.1;; piano, harp, timp, perc; strings.
    Duration: 50 minutes
    First performance: September 10, 1975, Berlin, Berliner Festwochen, Anja Silja, Günter Reich, vocalists, Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Gary Bertini, cond.