Karlheinz Stockhausen: DONNERSTAG aus LICHT, Swiss Debut
Theater Basel, Switzerland
Karlheinz Stockhausen was obsessed – he was a pioneer, a humanist and a visionary. Like scarcely any other composer of his generation, he explored the zeitgeist with great curiosity without ever yielding to artistic compromise.
No theater has dared to attempt a complete performance of "Donnerstag" for 30 years. The first opera (1981) from the seven-part "Licht" cycle breaks all boundaries of what is normal in the opera business. It can be read as a sister work to the "Zauberflöte" or as an update of the Orpheus myth located at the start of operatic history using the most advanced means of the late 20th century: Donnerstag is a theatrical reflection on the power of music in the world that is valid for the present day.
The three-part work – whose central figure Michael, archangel and alter ego of the composer, according to Stockhausen, should bring "divine music to humankind and human music to the divine" – blurs the borders between musicians in the grave and the performers on stage. Furthermore, with its prolog "Gruß" in the foyer and the epilog "Abschied" in front of the theater, it goes beyond the usual loci of opera. From chamber musical through to large oratory scenes it cuts through these to tap into the opportunities of musical theater.
Supported by the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation it was possible to enlist Titus Engel as Director of the Swiss premiere. Scenic direction comes care of Lydia Steier who has already directed numerous works of the 20th century.
June 25 and 26/September 29/October 1 and 2, 2016
Großes Haus, Theater Basel