Composers and their stage works 

John Gabriel Borkman

Henrik Ibsen (1896).

Drama in four acts representing the events of a single winter's night.

John Gabriel Borkman had been imprisoned for misuse of funds from the bank he once managed. Since his release eight years earlier, he has lived as a recluse with his strong-willed wife Gunhild, who hates him for the disgrace he has brought on her. Their son Erhart, a student, was raised by Gunhild's twin sister Ella. Lately he has been studying nearby and regularly visiting his mother, who has urged him to rehabilitate the family name. Ella now arrives and begs to have Erhart remain with her during the last months of her terminal illness. When she confronts Borkman with the ghost of their long-dead love affair, he admits that at the time he had sacrificed his feelings for her to his all-consuming ambition by giving her up to a man who could further his career.

The two sisters fight over Erhart, who after demanding the right to his own life departs with Mrs. Fanny Wilton, a seductive widow. Borkman, momentarily inspired by Ella's presence, leaves his self-imposed prison to take up his life again. However, his emergence into the cold world after so many years is too much for him. Refusing to return to the house of his confinement, he walks to a snowy mountain overlook, only to die realizing his abandonment of Ella for power and glory had been in vain. The two sisters are reunited over his body.