Composers and their stage works 

Der Besuch der alten Dame

The Visit (1956)
Friedrich Dürrenmatt 

When the millionairess Claire Zachanassian returns to Güllen, her impoverished hometown, the townspeople hope that her visit will result in financial benefits for all. It soon becomes clear, however, that Claire has come for revenge rather than for charity. Claire left Güllen as a girl after unjustly losing a paternity suit against her lover Alfred Ill, who rejected her in favor of a richer girl. She went to Hamburg, became the prostitute the court had declared her to be, and eventually amassed a fortune through a number of propitious marriages. She has now returned with her seventh husband to demand "justice" Alfred Ill's life in return for which she promises the town a million dollars. Although everyone expresses shock at her proposal, Ill grows nervous as he notices that the townspeople, including his own wife and son, are buying more and more luxuries on credit in anticipation of the million-dollar gift.

The townspeople appeal to Claire for money without the murder clause only to discover that, having long owned all the town's factories, she has deliberately shut them down to ensure acceptance of her barter. The citizens hold a town meeting at which they convince themselves that justice demands compliance with Claire's proposition. Ill, resigned to his fate, is strangled by the town athlete during festivities in honour of the town's new economic status. The doctor pronounces Ill dead of a heart attack; the newspapers publicise his death as the result of overwhelming joy for the future of Güllen. Claire keeps her side of the bargain and upon her departure is cheered as Güllen's benefactress.