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Music Theatre:
Egmont in Iraq

Music theatre: Egmont in Iraq (Baghdad)
Music theatre: Egmont in Iraq (Baghdad) | Photo: Goethe-Institut/Bernhard Ludewig

EGMONT IN IRAQ is a work of German-Iraqi musical theatre in Arabic to be premiered at the National Theatre in Baghdad on 24 June 2021 to mark the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth.

This German-Iraqi co-production is German director Astrid Vehstedt’s new adaptation of Goethe’s tragedy Egmont with incidental music by Beethoven. It foregrounds some added elements of New Music and contemporary literature to enrich the classic German play with impressions drawn from the reality on the ground in modern-day Iraq.

Vehstedt and Dutch composer Hans Rotman are working on this co-production with the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra (INSO) conducted by Karim Wasf and an Iraqi theatrical company started up in January 2020. The rehearsals are running from 1–23 June at the National Theatre in Baghdad.

Some new passages by the German-Iraqi writer Najem Wali (prologue) and the Iraqi writer Rania Al Bayati have been added to Goethe’s original in order to reflect aspects of everyday life in 21st-century Iraq. German costume designer Pia Wessels has been working on location to create historically-informed costumes with elements of modern-day apparel. And composer Hans Rotman has written a New Music composition for the Duke of Alba's scene, for which Beethoven did not write any incidental music.

So this take on Goethe's Egmont will be not only a world premiere in Arabic, but will also feature passages of contemporary music.

EGMONT IN IRAQ is a co-production of the Iraqi Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Antiquities and the Goethe-Institut Iraq in association with an independent German ensemble, the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra, the Iraqi Culture Ministry’s Department of Cinema and Theatre and the Baghdad National Theatre Company. The premiere will be supported by the German embassy in Baghdad.

EGMONT IN IRAQ is a high-profile large-scale project and the first German-Iraqi co-production of its kind. Originally scheduled for 2020, the performance had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. German and Iraqi artists have nonetheless continued working hard on Goethe's play and Beethoven's music, and now, at long last, the premiere is to be held on 24 June 2021 at the Baghdad National Theatre, in accordance with the applicable hygiene regulations. 


  • January 2021

First performance:

  • 24 June 2021: Baghdad