On 12 March at 8.30 pm, a new music film by the DSO had its premiere. With 'Struggle with the Devil' (Im Kampf mit dem Teufel), director Frederic Wake-Walker and visual artist Ergo Phizmiz bring to expressionistic life the one-act operas 'Sancta Susanna' by Paul Hindemith and 'Slzy Nože' (The Tears of the Knife) by Bohuslav Martinů, as well as the contemporary orchestral work 'Sinuous Voices' by Ondřej Adámek. Through collages and animations rich in references and innuendos, in combination with footage shot both in the Green Screen Studio and in the Kleiner Sendesaal of the rbb in February, an associative visual world is opened up that is inspired by the 1920s and congenially presents both music and content.

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Paul Hindemith ›Sancta Susanna‹ – Opera in one act
Ondřej Adámek ›Sinuous Voices‹ for ensemble
Bohuslav Martinů ›Slzy Nože‹ (The Knife's Tears) – Opera in one act

Martinů's 'Tears of the Knife' and Adámek's 'Sinuous Voices' were recorded on 19 and 20 February 2021 in the Kleiner Sendesaal of the rbb under the direction of Robin Ticciati, the filmic realisation of Hindemith's 'Sancta Susanna' is based on a concert recording from the Philharmonie of Deutschlandfunk Kultur from April 2012 conducted by Hans Graf.


Robin Ticciati Conductor
Hans Graf Conductor

Kateřina Kněžíková Soprano (Eleonora)
Markéta Cukrová Mezzo-soprano (Mutter)
Lucia Lucas bass baritone (Satan)
Melanie Diener Soprano (Susanna, Hindemith)
Lioba Braun Mezzo-soprano (Klementia, Hindemith)
Ewa Wolak Alto (Alte Nonne, Hindemith)
Elisabeth-Marie Leistikow Narrator (A Maid, Hindemith)
Bastian von Bomches Narrator (A Servant, Hindemith)

Frederic Wake-Walker Director
Ergo Phizmiz Collage, Animation and Design

Cantus Domus and ensemberlino vocale Choirs 
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin

About the Film

A new music film from the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin premieres on Friday, 12 March at 8:30 p.m. Entitled ‘STRUGGLE WITH THE DEVIL’, the director Frederic Wake-Walker and the visual artist Ergo Phizmiz bring to expressionist life the one-act operas ‘Sancta Susanna’ by Paul Hindemith and ‘Slzy Nože’ (Tears of the Knife) by Bohuslav Martinů, as well as the contemporary orchestral work ‘Sinuous Voices’ by Ondřej Adámek. Through suggestive collages and animations in combination with recordings shot both in a green screen studio and in rbb’s Small Broadcasting Hall in February, an associative world of images opens up, inspired by the 1920s, visualising the music and its subject in a way that is ideally matched. The premiere of the film realised in co-production with EuroArts and in cooperation with Deutschlandfunk Kultur will take place on dso-player.de, where it will be available free of charge as video on demand for 30 days.

The film starts with Paul Hindemith’s ‘Sancta Susanna’, a dazzling one-act opera that oscillates between expressionism and New Objectivity. The short opera, which plays in a nunnery, provocatively stages the borders between erotic and religious ecstasy. The protagonist’s satanic, sinful desire focuses on none other than the Saviour on the cross. To illustrate this, Ergo Phizmiz creates a Surrealist-influenced, “convulsively beautiful” eroticism, with, among other elements, fragments of Christian iconography and on the basis of photographs of feminist hysteria research from the early 20 th century.

In Bohuslav Martinů’s ‘Larmes du couteau’, a surreal comedy which was not premiered until 1969, ten years after the Czech composer’s death, erotic desire and Satan play a crucial role when a young girl falls in love with a hanged man and, during her attempts to win him over, keeps ending up in Satan’s arms. For this part of the film, recordings were made with the top-class group of soloists directed by Frederic Wake-Walker in a green screen studio; they were then integrated into the collage by Ergo Phizmiz.

The orchestral work ‘Sinuous Voices’ by Ondřej Adámek constitutes an instrumental hinge between the two provocative music theater compositions from the 1920s. In it, the Czech composer living in Berlin translates his shaping personal experiences with singing and voices into instrumental sounds. He juxtaposes the world of the intimate, as in prayer, with an extroverted world, for instance at a demonstration where a crowd of people chanting slogans gets out of control. 

DSO's Music Director Robin Ticciati says: “The Covid-19 pandemic has inescapably shocked us all. The natural human response to daily situations and our phatic communications have unquestionably been altered – perhaps for ever. This is certainly why the writing of Martinu and his surrealist world in ‘Larmes du couteau’ became more and more fascinating – and importantly, playful – for us at the DSO. There are glimpses of human truth but mostly the piece is a riot of post-Dadaist rejections of reason and logic. Combining it with the sexual frenzy of  Hindemith and the sinuous sounds of Adámek, we have produced an animated triptych for the DSO PLAYER: a struggle with the devil which might easily be reflected as a struggle with ourselves in this surreal time. Hindemith talked about the ‘old world exploding’ and the need for art to renew and restore. ... What better moment than now to look forward with a keen sense of renewal.”