Writers: Alban Berg


Show Information

Based on the Play/Book/Film
Adapted from Frank Wedekind's two Lulu plays, Erdgeist (Earth Spirit, 1895) and Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora's Box, 1904)
Number of Acts
First Produced
Drama, Horror
Period, Multiple Settings
Time & Place
19th century, Vienna, Paris, London, Victorian Era
Cast Size
Orchestra Size
Ideal for
Professional Opera, Star Vehicle Female
Casting Notes
Mostly male cast
Includes young adult, adult, mature adult, elderly, late teen characters


Woman: the last and most ferocious animal to be tamed by man. Created to seduce, deceive, and murder without trace; it is nearly impossible to control her.

Painting a portrait of a scantily clad Lulu is too much for the Der Maler (the painter), and he is overcome with lust for her. He chases her around the room until she gets dizzy and collapses. When Lulu’s husband walks in to find his wife being cradled and kissed by another man, he immediately drops dead from a stroke. Lulu is delighted: she is rich! She turns to Der Maler for comfort and support, and before long the two of them are married.

But Lulu has a terrible secret. She could never love Der Maler, or her first husband. Her heart belongs to Dr Schön, the man who took her from the streets as a child and put her into this life. Through all her marriages she has been with him, and will do anything he asks of her if only, one day, he might love her back. The news that he is getting married sends her over the edge. Lulu uses everything in her power to get Dr Schön for herself.

But life with Dr Schön proves to be nothing like she imagined. A simple argument turns into a murder, and Lulu finds herself in prison. Her devoted followers break Lulu out of prison, but there is no place in high society for a woman with no money, and nothing left to sell. Lulu is forced to flee the police, her debtors and blackmailers, and finds herself in London, reduced to the level of a street prostitute.

In Berg’s dark and bloody opera, Lulu is both the femme fatale who will stop at nothing to get what she wants, and the groomed and conditioned child, brought into a life of prostitution by the unspoken promise of love.

Lead Characters

Lulu guide sections