The 'dead city' in question is Bruges, identified in the opera with Marie, the dead wife of Paul. At the start of Act I Paul confides in a friend the extraordinary news that he has seen Marie, or her double, in the town and that he has invited her to the house. She arrives, and Paul addresses her as Marie, but she corrects him: she is Marietta, a dancer from Lille. He is enchanted by her, especially when she accepts his request for a song, Glück das mir verblieb. The lyric tells of the joy of love, but there is a sadness in it also because its theme is the transitoriness of life. Their voices combine in the verse which extols the power of love to remain constant in a fleeting world.
The song was used in the Coen-brothers film The Big Lebowski. It was also included on its soundtrack. This version was conducted by Korngold himself and performed by Ilona Steingruber, Anton Dermota and the Austrian State Radio Orchestra.