Diderot in Petersburg

An Operetta

250 years ago, the french philosopher denis diderot spends the fall and winter months at the court of the russian tsarina catherine ii. a hundred years later, the writer leopold von sacher-masoch, born in present-day ukraine, fictionalises the historical account of their soirées in st petersburg in a pulpy novella of cold and cruel hilarity. in his telling, the charged confrontation between empress and philosopher leads down into the torture chambers of anti-modernism. here, the obligatory whip is unpacked to exorcize the philosopher’s arrogance. a ‘dialectic of enlightenment’ avant la lettre, ‘east’ meets ‘west’ as erotic burlesque. instead of ‘freedom, equality and fraternity’: ‘orthodoxy, autocracy and nationalism’. 

what to do? que faire? Что делать? joined by an outstanding transnational cast of performers and collaborators, ,bruch‘- propose a counter reading of the scandalous text, staging it as an allegorical play in the guise of a contemporary operetta to explore the illuminating potential of frivolous entertainment and ecstatic laughter in the face of political tragedy.

rira bien qui rira le dernier.

Age recommendation: From 16 years
Language English / German (with surtitles)


Frances Chiaverini, Challenge Gumbodete, Stanislav Iordanov, Nadège Meta Kanku, Sascha Ö. Soydan

Production Team

by: ,Bruch‘-

Composition: Stanislav Iordanov

Choreography: Frances Chiaverini

Costume: Orlov Joy Ahoulou

Costume Katharina II.: Annelie Schubert

Entrance: Frieder Haller & Phung-Tien Phan PAIN, 2016–2024 Masse variabel Metallblech, Farbe, Licht

Tattoos: Winona Sloane Odette

Outside Eye: Jana Baldovino

In-house dramaturgy: Eneas Nikolai Prawdzic

Assistant director: Sophia Senn

Equipment assistance: Noé Wetter

Cooperation partner: Schauspielhaus Zürich

thanks to: BraidBar, Kevin Clarke, Gloria Hasnay, Charlie Hope, Axel Humbert, Fidan Novruzova

Frances Chiaverini

Nadège Meta Kanku

Stanislav Iordanov

Challenge Gumbodete

Sascha Özlem Soydan


Eneas Nikolai Prawdzic

Sophia Senn

Noé Wetter