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Alban Berg's three-act opera, composed between 1912 and 1922, comes to Verbier under the direction of Lahav Shani, with the inimitable Bo Skovhus in the lead role of Wozzeck. Inspired by a news item from 1821, the libretto tells the story of a German soldier who murders his mistress and is executed three years later. The Austrian composer's revolutionary work is uniquely innovative: each scene demonstrates a specific vocal technique, and shows how fatality imposes itself on the poor and exploited. In present times, the captivating nature of this incomparable opera holds extreme relevance.


ALBAN BERG (1885-1935)

Antihero par excellence, simple soldier Wozzeck is subjected to the humiliations and manipulations of a Captain, an archetypal stubborn and sadistic leader, and of a disturbing Doctor who carries out medical experiments on him, foreshadowing Nazi medicine. His partner, Marie, cares for his child while living off the few pennies he brings her. When she falls for the advances of a handsome Drum Major, it’s too much for Wozzeck who, tormented by hallucinations, is already tilting into insanity. He kills her, throws his knife into the pond, and drowns while trying to recover it. This is the argument Alban Berg drew from Büchner’s Woyzeck (1837), a theatrical drama that deeply moved him on the eve of the First World Warr. From this tragic story of a society punchbag, he created one of the most fascinating operas imaginable – through the rigour and innovative structure of its three acts and fifteen scenes, each cast in its own musical form; by the diversity of the vocal treatment; by the combination of art and popular music, of languages and of environments, between violence and sensuality, dehumanisation and humanity, atonality and post-romantic lyricism, such as the great D minor interlude following Wozzeck’s drowning, with its Puccini-esque climax. The opera ends with a childlike round, interrupted by the announcement of Marie’s death. “Hop, hop! Hop, hop! Hop, hop!” sings her child, a triple appeal marked by innocence and tragedy. By the never-ending cycle. The premiere of Wozzeck in Berlin on 14 December 1925, conducted by the great Erich Kleiber, made Alban Berg famous overnight. To stage the work, the Austrian conductor had secured an incredible 48 rehearsals. The first atonal opera in the history of music, with a score unprecedented in its complex and refined structure, Wozzeck arose like a cry of revolt against societal injustice.

With the generous support of
Aline Foriel-Destezet

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RTS Espace 2

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