Composers and their stage works 

Hedda Gabler

Henrik Ibsen (1891)

Four-act drama.

Hedda, bored by trivial social amusements, has married George Tesman, a devoted but rather dull scholar whom she does not love. Soon bored again, she amuses herself by playing with her father's brace of duelling pistols and flirting with Judge Brack, a professional bachelor with a flair for domestic triangles. Thea Elvsted, Hedda's childhood rival, appears on the scene to ask George's assistance for a serious problem: she has deserted her husband and his children for her lover, Eilert Levborg, who was once Hedda's suitor. Not only has Thea dared to defy conventional society, but she has also reclaimed Eilert from alcoholism and inspired him to write a brilliant book that will make him George's competitor.

Envious of Thea, Hedda reasserts her power over Eilert by sending him off to a drunken party at Brack's where he succumbs to his old weakness for liquor and loses his manuscript. George finds it and entrusts it to Hedda, who vindictively burns it. Eilert is now desperate, and when Hedda gives him one of her pistols, he goes to a prostitute's bedroom and shoots himself. Guessing the truth about the pistol, Brack intends to blackmail Hedda into becoming his mistress. Thea and George have agreed to reconstruct Eilert's manuscript from surviving notes. Caught in her own trap, Hedda shoots herself.