Monday, June 04, 2007

And Now For Some Operatic World Premieres For My Globalist Critics Opposed To The Development Of An American Classical Music And Operatic Culture

Wagner's Dream

Music: Jonathan Harvey
Libretto: Jonathan Harvey

"In the Venetian Palazzo Vendramin Richard and Cosima Wagner are quarreling. The composer is expecting a visit from the singer Carrie Pringle and Cosima is jealous. Wagner settles down to composing but feels unwell and loses consciousness. The border between dream and reality dissolves. Vairochana, a Buddhist monk, tells him that he will soon behold the light and should not fear death, for it is but a transition to a new life, but Wagner first wants to finish his opera on Prakriti. Vairochana shows him a shabby Indian inn, where he himself sits as a guest. Prakriti comes to serve him and Vairochana orders tea. Ananda, a mendicant monk, asks for a glass of water and Prakriti gazes dreamily after him as he leaves. Cosima has summoned a doctor, who diagnoses that Wagner has suffered a heart attack. Vairochana now presents Prakriti’s house, where her mother is preparing food for a guest: a nephew of Prince Siddhartha. Prakriti’s thoughts are only of Ananda, who now appears as the guest. He tells her about the ideas of Buddha and Siddhartha and they fall in love. Carrie Pringle comes into Wagner’s room. She is the only person who is capable of sharing Wagner’s vision: Buddha under a tree, surrounded by monks and disciples, including Ananda. Prakriti tells Buddha of her love for Ananda. Despite the protests of an old Brahmin, Prakriti is permitted to join their order. Buddha asks Wagner to make a definite choice; Vairochana explains to him that he has seen his own work, the story of Prakriti. Only Carrie has heard it. Wagner dedicates his opera to Cosima and dies. He is now free to follow Vairochana whilst those left behind gaze at his (empty) chair."

In English.


Alice in Wonderland

Music: Unsuk Chin
Libretto: David Henry Hwang, Unsuk Chin after Lewis Caroll

"World première and triumph of fantasy! The initially conventional Alice follows her dreams. There she meets a white rabbit with a waistcoat and a pocket watch, who guides her through Wonderland. Alice views it all with amazement and learns – finally returning to the real world richer for the experience. The moral of the tale: we should all follow more white rabbits.
Korean composer Unsuk Chin wrote this opera based on the eponymous novel by Lewis Carroll. Alice in Wonderland: modern music that pleases the ear. Modern opera – seductive, enchanting, sensuous – and anything but hyper-intellectual. Kent Nagano conducts. The fairy-tale setings and production are in the hands of Achim Freyer. Only white rabbits guide us better through Wonderland."

In English with German surtitles


Das Gehege [The Animal Enclosure]

Music: Wolfgang Rihm
Libretto: Wolfgang Rihm, based upon play by Botho Strauss

"Yearning, power, love drive the woman into an enclosure. There she conducts dialogues with an eagle. She liberates the bird so she can kill it. Absurd, paradoxical? Killing the thing we love? No doubt: with these questions, the woman in the enclosure is a sister in spirit to the Salome of a hundred years before. Das Gehege, a gigantic, monomaniacal piece. Written for singing actress Gabriele Schnaut by Wolfgang Rihm, one of the most successful contemporary composers, and based on a play by Botho Strauss. Opera is that thrilling, art that shattering! On the podium: Kent Nagano, staged by the director of The Exorcist, William Friedkin. Witness a world première!"

In German.

Scenes from the world premieres of Jonathan Harvey's "Wagner's Dream"; and Wolfgang Rihm's "Das Gehege" [The Animal Enclosure]-- based upon the play by the German dramatist and writer Botho Strauss.

Photo credits: (c) The Netherlands Opera and the Munich Opera Festival 2007. With thanks.


Another day without American classical music on Sharon Rockefeller's new Classical WETA-FM Lite, in the Nation's Capital.


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