Dutch National Opera presents

aus LICHT Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007)

A production of the Holland Festival, Dutch National Opera and Royal Conservatoire The Hague in partnership with the Stockhausen Stiftung für Musik

The musical universum of Karlheinz Stockhausen

By Karlheinz Stockhausen

Language German

What is mankind’s purpose on Earth? Karlheinz Stockhausen’s answer to this question is the seven-opera cycle LICHT. Aus LICHT presents a selection of key passages from the cycle in a series of three performances in the Gashouder, Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam.

That a musician would seek an answer to this question is not so surprising. The desire to know mankind’s purpose has long preoccupied theologians, philosophers and artists. Music, moreover, has a unique power to express the ineffable. Where Wagner devoted four full operas to this question, Karlheinz Stockhausen  wrote seven – one for each day of the week – creating a cycle that even twenty years after his death has never been performed in its entirety.

Karlheinz Stockthausen during rehearsal Michaels Heimkehr

aus LICHT repetitie Luzifers Tanz
Photo Michel Schnater
aus LICHT repetitie Luzifers Tanz
Photo Michel Schnater
aus LICHT repetitie Luzifers Tanz
Photo Michel Schnater

Comprehensive review

Aus LICHT is a selection of scenes from all seven operas, chosen in close consultation with musical director Kathinka Pasveer. Presented in three successive performances, this marks the first comprehensive review of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s LICHT.

In conjunction with aus LICHT, the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague has created a dedicated MA programme in which a select group of students are working on this production.

Special website

We have developed a dedicated website for aus LICHT, where you can find detailed information on this unique project. As well as practical information about the production and fringe programme, it also contains in-depth information about the background and themes.


Part 1: Michael

May 31, June 4 & 8 2019

7.30 pm - 11.15 pm - For dedicated listeners, the evening continues until 0.15 am with the electronic composition UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE.

The first of the three performances centres on Michael, the personification of goodness and divinity in the LICHT cycle.

Michael’s musical DNA is a thirteen-tone formula; one more than the twelve black and white keys of a piano octave. Two whole scenes of the opera DONNERSTAG are devoted to Michael’s youth with his mentally-unbalanced mother and a father ill-equipped to deal with life. Michael passes an examination to enter the conservatory and is reborn as a musician.

In MICHAELs REISE UM DIE ERDE, Michael travels around the world, mocked and ridiculed along the way, and eventually meets Eve, his true love. Leaving the Earth behind, they undertake a cosmic journey and musical joining. In these scenes the opera’s protagonists reveal that they can take on various guises – of dancers, trumpet and horn players, but also of musical abstractions manifested in familiar melodic ‘formulae’. Eve and Michael also adopt various roles, from mother and son to lovers.

The audience is swept into a musical universe where invisible choirs fill the space. This opera is presaged by a brief overture, the DONNERSTAGs GRUSS, and concludes with the ABSCHIED, played by five trumpets dispersed in the space.

This first opera is the most scenic and narrative of the trilogy, with the cycle growing more ritualistic as Stockhausen progressed. 

Part 2: Lucifer and Eva

June 1, 5, 9 2019

3.00 pm -  ± 9.20 pm - For dedicated listeners, the performance starts with an electronic composition, FREITAGs-GRUSS starting at 1.15 pm; and continues with the electronic composition FREITAGs-ABSCHIED, which ends at ± 11.30 pm.

Expressed in an eleven-tone formula, Lucifer’s musical DNA is marked by deficiency. This drives him to seek completion by battling Michael or merging with Eve, whose twelve-tone formula embodies the ideal human gene.

Karlheinz Stockhausen was among the first to elevate electronic music to an art form. Included in this trilogy are scenes from FREITAG, played from speakers, in which the composer is an invisible omnipresence of pure sound.

This part opens with scenes from SAMSTAG, a day dominated by Lucifer, the third protagonist.

A fanfare is followed by a bizarre ritual in KATHINKAs GESANG, where a flautist costumed as a cat plays a requiem for Lucifer, consisting of several exercises that will liberate his spirit from its bodily husk. She is accompanied by the tolling of bells and ‘magical’ percussion. Yet Lucifer is not dead yet, reappearing as an eighty-part orchestra that forms a monstrous grimacing face. Challenged by star trumpeter Michael, the first confrontation takes place. Subsequently the mood changes as Eve takes the stage with three scenes from MONTAG. Surrounded by maidens and children, she is shown as the creator of life, demonstrating her allure in a tripartite manifestation of femininity. Then the Pied Piper arrives and abducts all the children that Eve has borne.

Part 3: Cooperation and the opening up of space

June 2, 6, 10 2019

2.00 pm - ± 10.30 pm - For dedicated listeners, the performance is preceded by the electronic composition MITTWOCHs-GRUSS, starting at 12.30 pm

After a bitter battle between MICHAEL and LUCIFER has been settled, Stockhausen, as the creator of space, brings the protagonists together again.

The conflict between Michael and Lucifer climaxes in INVASION-EXPLOSION. In an awesome electronic soundscape that draws on Stockhausen’s own reminiscences of the Second World War, two armies battle each other in the theatre space. Lucifer’s forces finally claim victory. Mortally wounded, Michael dies in Eve’s embrace in the solemn PIETÁ, while a frenzied Lucifer celebrates.

Disputes settled

MITTWOCH is the opera in LICHT in which the three main characters share the stage and finally reconcile. In WELT-PARLAMENT disputes are settled and visions for cosmic cooperation are born.

Instrumentalists arrive to audition for a heavenly orchestra in ORCHESTER-FINALISTEN, and four string players literally become airborne, taking off in a helicopter. Via radio links, the HELIKOPTER STREICHQUARTETT is broadcast into the Gashouder theatre. After returning to Earth, the musicians and pilots take questions from the audience. Seven groups of singers then descend like angels from heaven and move through the audience, bringing a mood of serenity in the ENGELPROZESSIONEN, one of the two scenes from SONNTAG, the opera concluding the LICHT cycle.

Order a passe-partout  Order Foodvouchers

Check this page for more information about the catering during part 2 and 3.

Team, Cast and Chorus

Musical Director
Kathinka Pasveer
Stage Director
Pierre Audi
Sets and light
Urs Schönebaum
Wojciech Dziedzic
Chris Kondek and Robi Voigt
Renee Jonker
Adrian Heger
Wilma ten Wolde (Nationaal Kinderkoor)
Daniel Reuss (Cappella Amsterdam)
Artistic producer / coordinator
Sigi Giesler
Klaus Bertisch
Musical and Dramaturgical Consultant
Suzanne Stephens-Janning
Educational Advisor
Christiano Melli
Netherlands Chamber Choir
Cappella Amsterdam
Nationaal Kinderkoor/Nationaal Vrouwen Jeugdkoor/Nationaal Gemengd Jeugdkoor
Soloists, instrumental soloists
students from the MA aus LICHT Royal Conservatoire The Hague

A production of the Holland Festival, Dutch National Opera and Royal Conservatoire The Hague in partnership with the Stockhausen Stiftung für Musik

Get in the mood with music inspired on the performance.

Follow us on Spotify

Artistic partners


Main partner aus LICHT