3 Feb 2020

BERG: Wozzeck

From Opera on Sunday, 10:56 am on 3 February 2020

Set in an apocalyptic pre–World War I environment, this opera was a sensation and a scandal at its première in 1925 and has lost none of its power to fascinate, shock, and engage audiences.

Peter Mattei as Wozzeck

Peter Mattei as Wozzeck Photo: Ken Howard/Met Opera

Sunday 9 February 2020 at 6pm on RNZ Concert

Metropolitan Opera Season 

BERG: Wozzeck 

Cast:

Elza van den Heever (Marie), Tamara Mumford (Margret), Christopher Ventris (The Drum-Major), Gerhard Siegel (The Captain), Andrew Staples (Andres), Peter Mattei (Wozzeck), Christian Van Horn (The Doctor), Metropolitan Opera Chorus & Orchestra conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin 

Recorded at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York

Christopher Ventris as Drum Major & Elzs van den Heever as Marie

Christopher Ventris as Drum Major & Elzs van den Heever as Marie Photo: Ken Howard/Met Opera

One of the emblematic achievements of the thriving artistic forces in Germany and Austria during the brief period between world wars, 'Wozzeck' was a sensation and a scandal at its première. Remarkably, it has lost none of its power to fascinate, shock, and engage audiences, and its status as one of the defining musical works of the 20th century has not blunted its vitality.

A scene from Wozzeck at The Met

A scene from Wozzeck at The Met Photo: Ken Howard/Met Opera

Among the most visionary and influential composers of the 20th century, Alban Berg (1885–1935) came of age amid an explosion of artistic and intellectual creativity in Vienna. His vocal and instrumental writing merges the revolutionary techniques of Arnold Schoenberg with the grandeur of such late Romantic composers as Gustav Mahler. The libretto is Berg’s own close adaptation of the play Woyzeck by Georg Büchner (1813–1837).

Elza van den Heever as Marie & Peter Mattei as Wozzeck

Elza van den Heever as Marie & Peter Mattei as Wozzeck Photo: Ken Howard/Met Opera

Berg did not specify a time or location for the opera. The background of Büchner’s play has led to the assumption of Leipzig, Germany, circa 1821, as an appropriate setting, but the work’s universal ideas far outweigh any forced attempt at historical accuracy. William Kentridge’s new production here updates the action to the period before the First World War.

Synopsis of Wozzeck

A scene from Wozzeck at The Met

A scene from Wozzeck at The Met Photo: Ken Howard/Met Opera

Berg’s score encapsulates the artistic ideals of Expressionism in music—emphasizing the unseen and the subconscious by focusing on the symbolic rather than the concrete. Atonality and whole-tone composition coexist in Berg’s score with moments of romanticism and melody. The vocal writing ranges from pure speech to declaimed speech with musical inflections to melodic singing. Recurring motifs are used but not in the strict Wagnerian sense of a musical phrase attached to a specific character or idea.

A scene from Wozzeck at The Met

A scene from Wozzeck at The Met Photo: Ken Howard/Met Opera

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