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1980 production photo from Die Jakobsleiter

Die Jakobsleiter 1980

July 26 - August 15, 1980

The profoundly moving statement…

…of belief about life and death.

(presented as a triple-bill with Erwartung and Von Heute auf Morgan)

Music By
Arnold Schoenberg
Completed By
Winfried Zillig
Libretto By
Arnold Schoenberg


Die Jakobsleiter (Jacob's Ladder)

A multitude of souls is suspended between death and reincarnation. The archangel Gabriel appears and urges the souls upward towards union with God. The souls comment upon the burdens and blessings of existence and upon the apparent senselessness of the course of every single life. After the desperate question “Must it go on like this forever?”, the souls sink back into indifference and gentle resignation.

Now Gabriel calls upon those who believe they have come nearer to God through their deeds. One of the Called, the self-satisfied creative artist, boasts that no suffering ever came near him since he saw only his own ideals, which filled his life with joy. A Rebellious Soul doubts whether it can be the same God who leads us one way through our instincts and another way through His Commandments. A Struggling Soul is fearful of the Commandments and wrestles with the problem of how to separate right from wrong without the guidance of The Word. Gabriel gives counsel to each.

To guide the souls, Gabriel calls upon one much closer to God and who “resembles Him”: The Chosen One, he who is a genius. He can only leave mankind his words, or works, fearful that they may be misunderstood. Gabriel urges the souls to ponder these words; eventually they will understand them. A Monk fears his sacrifices were not sufficient, because he avoided temptation. Gabriel reassures him and sends him further on his way to God as prophet and martyr.

A Dying Person realizes that he has suffered through thousands of lives and deaths. As he dies, Gabriel guides his soul upward to prepare it for its next reincarnation.


William Dooley headshot

William Dooley



Santa Fe Opera

Michael Cousins


One of the Called

Santa Fe Opera

Raymond Gibbs


A Rebellious Soul

Santa Fe Opera

Andrew Foldi


A Struggling Soul

Santa Fe Opera

William Parker


The Chosen One

Santa Fe Opera

Robert Grayson


The Monk

Santa Fe Opera

Janet Northway


The Dying One and The Soul

Santa Fe Opera

Robert Baustian


Santa Fe Opera

Bodo Igesz


Santa Fe Opera

Neil Peter Jampolis


Scenery & Lighting

Santa Fe Opera

Hal George

Costume Designer

George Manahan headshot

George Manahan


Chorus Master