Opera in two acts freely adapted from Hebbel
Time: 1st century B.C.
Source: According to the book Judith, Old Testament
Place: The action takes place in and before the (H)Ebrean city Bethulien
Duration: approx. 90’
1. Act: The city Bethulien is besieged by Assyrian soldiers. The hebrean people, at the end of their strength, starved and shortly before dying of thirst, can no longer withstand the enemy’s troops and want to surrender. The masses hope for the mercy of the enemy and want to storm the gates. Osias, the chief priest of Bethulien, tries to appease the angry and exhausted people and encourage them to persevere. Judith emerges, angered by the lack of courage and weak faith of the people. She asks for delay, „still wait until the next dawn”. After some resistance, the crowd agrees. Ready to save her people, Judith plans to kill the enemy Captain Holofernes during his intercourse. “The way to my deed goes through sin! Thank you, thank you, Lord! May I love my honour, my immaculate body more than you? You made me beautiful, now I know why”. With great determination she prepares her deed. She has her maid Abra dress her up and wrap her in beautiful robes and leaves Bethulien to meet Captain Holofernes, who is known as the particularly cruel. Judith: “I will avenge the dead and shelter the living.“