Airborne string players and choral wizardry in aus LICHT Part 3

Stockhausen: aus LICHT

At the Gashouder, Amsterdam on the 2nd of June, 2019

The final part of aus LICHT is the longest. Working Together and Opening Up Into Space is spread over eight hours, including breaks. It comprises episodes from DIENSTAG (Tuesday), MITTWOCH (Wednesday) and SONNTAG (Sunday). And, for die-hard serialists, there are additional hours of electronic music. Three long operas in three days will test anyone’s endurance, but my wonder at Stockhausen’s inventiveness and exuberant craziness increases after every segment. Also, the cast is beyond wonderful…

Full review on Bachtrack.

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Hypnotic, diabolical and magical: aus LICHT Part 2, Lucifer & Eve

Stockhausen: aus LICHT

At the Gashouder, Amsterdam on the 1st of June, 2019

aus LICHT Part 2 consists of excerpts from two days of the LICHT cycle. In SAMSTAG (Saturday) Michael takes on Lucifer and there’s nothing I love more than an angeological showdown. MONTAG (Monday) is all about Eva and her fecund mother goddessness. And the finale is Stockhausen’s take on the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. It all starts with a bang, or rather a boom, as four brass ensembles greet us with the diabolical, low-pitched fanfare, SAMSTAGS-GRUSS. Stockhausen is so polite, saluting us and seeing us off each time!

Full review on Bachtrack.

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aus LICHT Part 1: Michael only takes flight in the second half

Stockhausen: aus LICHT

At the Gashouder, Amsterdam on the 31st of May, 2019

I’m a bit concerned about my first live encounter with avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007), aus LICHT at the Holland Festival. I’m not that keen on electronic music, a field in which Stockhausen was a pioneer. In his seven-opera cycle LICHT (Light), one opera for each day of the week, there’s even a character called Synthi-Fou, the Synthesizer Maniac. I needn’t have worried. LICHT, composed between 1977 and 2003, is electronic, acoustic, grandiose, intimate, and every combination thereof. 

Full review on Bachtrack.

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Perfect symbiosis of words and music in Fin de partie at the Opera Forward Festival

Kurtág: Fin de partie

At Dutch National Opera, Amsterdam on the 6th of March, 2019

György Kurtág’s only opera Fin de partie, based on Samuel Beckett’s play, has had a long gestation period. After being announced a number of times without materialising, it received its world premiere at La Scala last November, when it was declared to be a masterpiece. Kurtàg, now in his early nineties, was unable to travel to Milan, or to Amsterdam, where the same cast and conductor have brought the production to the Opera Forward Festival. At the curtain call last Wednesday, conductor Markus Stenz and director Pierre Audi held up the score and accepted the fervent applause on the composer’s behalf.

Full review on Bachtrack.

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Spectacular Gurrelieder revived at Dutch National Opera

Schoenberg: Gurrelieder

Dutch National Opera, 18 April 2018

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Plan of Gurre Castle, Denmark. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Toward the end of Pierre Audi’s last season at Dutch National Opera, the house has revived one of its artistic director’s most admired productions. The first ever and, so far, only staged version of Schoenberg’s gargantuan cantata represents the best of Audi’s innovative work.

Full review on Bachtrack.

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Dutch National Opera successfully resurrects La morte d’Orfeo

Landi: La morte d’Orfeo

Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Amsterdam, 23 March 2018

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Apollo and Orpheus, 17th Century, Anonymous, (Metropolitan Museum of Art via Wikimedia Commons)

In the operas of Monteverdi and Gluck, Orpheus, poet and musician, is a tragic hero. He loses his wife Eurydice twice, first when she dies on earth, and again on their way out of Hades, where he descends to revive her. In Stefano Landi’s La morte d’Orfeo (ca 1619), he is a less sympathetic, but more interesting figure.

Full review on Bachtrack.

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Tristan und Isolde smoulders at Dutch National Opera

Wagner: Tristan und Isolde

Dutch National Opera, 18 January 2018

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Tristan and Isolde on a German stamp issued in 1933

After its co-producers in Paris and Rome, it is Dutch National Opera’s turn to present director Pierre Audi’s shadow-clad Tristan und Isolde. In Amsterdam Audi’s lucid visuals complemented a strong, balanced cast. Conductor Marc Albrecht kept a lyrical Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra on a concentrated simmer for the full four hours. This was a Tristan und Isolde to treasure.

Full review on Bachtrack.

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