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NEW DARK AGE Early January 2020

Filed under: Live Music,Movie Reviews,New Dark Age Monthly,Uncategorized — doktorjohn January 13, 2020 @ 3:39 am

Wozzeck

We attended a “live-from-the-Met” cinematic broadcast of the much acclaimed Metropolitan Opera production of Wozzeck with music and libretto by Alban Berg on January 11. It was also scheduled to be repeated in local theaters that carry such events on January 16. It is an extraordinary operatic work by one of the most modern of 20th century composers, famed representative of the “Second Viennese School” an early 20th century musical movement noted for atonality with elements of late Romantic Influence. Think: Beethoven off-key.

It is based on a play that was itself based upon real life events that took place in 1821 and were publicized when a despondent and exploited war veteran, (real name Woyzeck) murdered his unfaithful girlfriend and was executed, leaving their child orphaned. In Berg’s opera, Wozzeck dies by drowning himself as he seeks to flee accusations and to destroy evidence.

This woeful mess is rendered dismal and pitiful not just by way of the lyrics and the somber music, but by an hallucinatory production by South African animation-film artist William Kentridge. The dismal and apocalyptic sets and scenery are continuously worked, enhanced, altered and heightened by projected images of loosely drawn, illustrations and suggestive figures, usually but not only black and white – sometimes still and sometimes animated. At times the projected image creates the entire backdrop as, e.g. a cityscape. Other times it takes the form of a screen or an ever-changing poster. The effect is phantasmagorical.

One advantage of the live-from-the-Met, HD transmitted version, is that the viewer benefits from camera cinematography that zooms in on singers and follows action when appropriate.

Even if one has not had the opportunity to see this spectacular production either live or in cinema, it would be well to take note of the elements contained in this report and to keep an eye and an ear open for other works by these gifted artists for future reference.