Act 1


1881. Having come from humble beginnings, the brothers Gustav and Ernst Klimt, together with their best friend and fellow painter Franz Matsch, now full of enthusiasm and encouraged by the taste of initial success, create the “Artists Company”. The Same Old Vienna, A Brand New World
Soon, however, Gustav’s Genius - the embodiment of his creative force - implores him to free himself from drawing simple illustrations of historical subjects and themes. Gustav succumbs willfully to another of Genius‘ urges - to live out his sexuality without restraint. Unfettered And Pure

Through his brother’s engagement to Helene Flöge, Gustav meets her sister Emilie. Gustav is impressed and immediately taken with this independent and unorthodox woman. As an absolute Free-Thinker he cannot understand the hurried wedding plans of his brother. Ernst and Helene swear their eternal love. The Canvas Of Life
The „Artists Company“ receives the Golden Order of Merit from Emperor Franz Josef l. Bravo! Respect!

At the ceremony Gustav is approached by another young artist, Kolo Moser. Moser proposes the idea that Gustav re-thinks his work and joins a group dedicated to the radical renewal of art in Austria.
Here In Our Land Art Hangs Like A Flaccid Gland
Gustav declines the offer and enjoys instead the success that the company is having, with conventional style commissions, to the fullest. He lets himself be seduced by an female aristocrat at the ceremony. Emilie watches the two secretively. She feels at once, drawn to Gustav but is also put off by his liberal lifestyle, as well his adulterous ways. She asks herself the question: could she ever be involved with such a man? Oh Come Sweet Poison

One of Gustav‘s models, Mizzi Zimmermann, discloses to him that she is expecting his child. Gustav’s Genius tries to prevent him from wanting to take care of her. Genius wants to keep him from feeling chained to another, nor can it allow his creativity to be in any way limited or compromised.

Leave This Behind You
Gustav nevertheless pledges to support her, but with the condition that the situation will never be made public. Secret World

At the opening of the Flöge sister’s clothing salon, build in the style of the “Wiener Werkstätte”, Gustav and Emilie come very close to each other. Emilie makes it clear to Gustav that they can never have a proper relationship. Gustav accepts and respects her decision, still he must admit to himself that he truly loves her. I Truly Love You They come to a quiet agreement that they will always maintain a deep friendship. The friends celebrate the success of the salon.

We‘re Better Than You Are

Gustav’s brother Ernst unexpectedly breaks down and dies shortly thereafter from consequences stemming from pneumonia. The Promise
Full of blame for Franz Matsch and reproaching himself, Gustav begins to doubt everything he has achieved up to this point in his life. Genius sees the chance to finally steer him in individual direction. Your Heart Is Filled With Rage After a terrible fight with Franz, Gustav ends the company and Emilie can only just calm Gustav down. Oh Why God

Gustav breaks with the past and swears to move on in a new courageous direction. It‘s Enough
Kolo Moser and Gustav, now driven by his Genius, withdraw from the Künstlerhaus-Collective which is dominated by conservative powers, and create the Vienna Secession with Gustav as president. Many young artists join them. In the revolutionary air of change, they decide to build a modern exhibition building as a home for the new art movement. To every age it's art and to art it's freedom



Act 2


1898. The new home of the art movement - The Secession - opens. During the private viewing Gustav is confronted with detractors as well as enthusiasts.

Oh What Finesse
Upper class ladies are already offering large sums of money for a painted portrait from Gustav Klimt, above all the very wealthy Serena Lederer proves herself to be a devoted admirer. Yes, yes

Helene and Emilie observe how Gustav, as always, enjoys the fawning of attentive women. Helene, concerned for her sister, appeals to her conscience. She discovers that Emilie shares a deep friendship with Gustav, but warns her that this “friendship” will prevent her from ever finding a proper relationship. Emilie points out that by still hanging on to her love for Ernst, five years after his death, Helene is also denying herself the chance for a “proper” relationship with anyone else. The sisters end up arguing but then both women acknowledge that they share, in different ways, the same unusual type of love. How I Love Him

Franz Matsch and Gustav present their final collective project, the ceiling murals for the Aula Magna at the University of Vienna, to the Ministry of Art and the responsible commission. Gustav‘s sketches shock and are met upon with incomprehension. It‘s Only Art With Our OK
Angry and disconcerted, Gustav even considers quitting his participation at the world exhibition in Paris, where he has submitted „Philosophy“, one of his faculty-paintings. He seeks out Emilie for advice. She once again reassures Gustav and both realize what they mean to each other: in their togetherness they find peace, for a few brief moments time seems to stand still. Only You

1900, Paris. Gustav experiences his greatest triumph, when he receives the gold medal for “Philosophy”. In the rush of his success he climbs the Eifel tower and is enveloped in his triumph. On Top Of The World
Having hardly arrived back home, however, he is met with one of his darkest hours. Mizzi is completely desperate over the death of their common youngest son. Mizzi and Gustav fully feel the weight of their isolated, secret liaison. Shadowland

Two bailiffs are trying to collect the three „Faculty-Paintings“ for the University of Vienna that have already been paid for by the Austrian state. Gustav refuses to hand over the commissioned work due to the fact that the paintings wouldn‘t be hung properly in the university as previously agreed upon. Following a confrontation with Von Hartel, the minister of culture. Your Discretion

Gustav finally succeeds in convincing the minister that he should be allowed to buy back the paintings, even though it‘s clear that he doesn‘t have the financial resources to do so. Gustav and Emilie, just as in countless summers beforehand, spend relaxed days at the Attersee. But this time the two can, for a brief moment, take pleasure in their true feelings. Emilie is ready for the first time to express her feelings for Gustav. Gustav refuses her declarations with a heavy heart. He is afraid of hurting Emilie, like innumerable women before, due to his inability to maintain a relationship. Their impartiality and peace within their friendship is now gone. Genius triumphs: Now Gustav belongs thoroughly and completely to his art. Take Her Now

Gustav plunges himself into his work on the Beethoven-exhibition. His patron Serena Lederer offers her help with the purchase of the „Faculty-Paintings“ and can, at least, lessen his financial worries. The Beethoven Mural unleashes once again a storm of outrage. Franz Matsch visits the exhibition and is completely overcome by the sensual intoxication of his onetime best friends creation.

The Rush Of All Senses

Finally he pays Gustav his respects but cannot help pointing out the high price he has paid for his freedom of expression. Gustav does not listen. Without the stability that Emilie gave him, Gustav‘s Genius can push him, faster and faster, without compromise, forward. To find a new style. Create a new society. Further, ever further. To create more and always something new, until he finally collapses. Onward, Onward, Now Forever

After suffering a stroke in 1918, Gustav calls for Emilie and finally dies in the arms of the one, unfulfilled love of his life.

How Wonderful My Life Has Been With You 


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