Matinee broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera continue on Classical 90.5 at 10:00 a.m. this Saturday, March 22nd, with a performance of Wozzeck by Alban Berg, with text in German adapted by the composer from Georg Büchner’s play Woyzeck. The performance will run approximately two hours.
First performed in 1925, Wozzeck is written in the Expressionist style, a school of writing promulgated by Arnold Schoenberg and his two disciples Alban Berg and Anton Webern. The proponents of the style believed that art (music, art, literature, etc.) should reflect the inner consciousness of its creator rather than produce a physically accurate depiction of a scene, object or character. The painter, composer or writer should “express” his personal feelings, even if it sometimes meant exaggeration or distortion. As a result of this premise, Berg’s opera is composed in a musical idiom which may be difficult to grasp upon first hearing. It is atonal (no real key, no central tonality common to most Western music up to that time) and quite dissonant. However, the jagged music of Wozzeck works to underscore the opera's sorrowful tale of a poor soldier, his unfaithful mistress, a murder, and the orphaned child who does not understand the enormity of the circumstances he faces as the story concludes.
The following excerpt from Georg Büchner’s play Woyzeck sets the stage for Berg's telling of the story:
"Once upon a time, there was a poor little child with no father and no mother. Everything was dead, and no one was left in the whole world. Everything was dead, and the child went and cried day and night ... and there he sits to this day, all alone."
James Levine conducts Berg's gripping modern masterpiece. Deborah Voigt and Thomas Hampson step into the demanding roles of the embattled Marie and the hapless and lamentable title character for the first time on their careers.