Sex, art and murder: Met Opera presents ‘Lulu’ in Breckenridge
and Cecile Forsberg
Special to the Daily
if you go
What: Metropolitan Opera HD Broadcast of “Lulu”
When: Saturday, Nov. 21 at 10:30 a.m.
Where: Colorado Mountain College, Breckenridge
Cost: Student $10 / Senior (65+) $16 / Adult $20; To purchase tickets and read the full synopsis visit nromusic.com/tickets-and-events/met-opera-live-in-hd/lulu/
More information: nromusic.com or (970) 453-5825
Alban Berg’s contemporary opera, “Lulu,” is the Metropolitan Opera HD Broadcast at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge, Saturday, Nov. 21. To accommodate the opera length, the broadcast will begin at 10:30 a.m.
The story of Lulu, based on stage plays written by Frank Wedekind, tell the dramatic story of a much desired young woman in romantic and sexual interactions with a series of male admirers, often with grim endings, including her own death in the end at the hand of “Jack the Ripper.” The details of these ongoing escapades are too involved and intertwined leaving space only for short previews of select scenes.
Leading the cast in the role of Lulu is German soprano, Marlis Peterson, whose opening-night performance has been described as “singing as a refined coloratura with blazing dramatic power.” The first act opens with “The Painter,” sung by Paul Groves, finishing a portrait of Lulu, expressing his own sexual hunger for her. Suddenly her father appears and in seeing them together alone, collapses and dies. The painter afterwards becomes Lulu’s first husband.
Several scenes follow and by the middle of Act II, Lulu will have had three husbands. Her third and current husband, Dr. Schön (sung by bass baritone, Johan Reuter), is impulsively shot and killed by Lulu during an irrational argument. An orchestral interlude depicts Lulu’s arrest, murder trial, imprisonment, illness with cholera, commitment to the hospital, and the plans for her escape, for which she elicits the aid of Schön’s son, Alwa (sung by tenor Daniel Brenna, in his Met debut).
In the background throughout these scenes is the presence of Countess Geschwitz, sung by the time-honored mezzo-soprano, Susan Graham, in the role of a lesbian who also had fallen for Lulu. Indeed, Lulu’s romantic escapades were not limited to men. In the final act, Lulu deteriorates into a practicing prostitute in order to make ends meet. Her final customer, Jack the Ripper, (also sung by Johan Reuter in a duel role), prompted by an argument over money, stabs and kills Lulu. The Countess tries to help Lulu, but Jack stabs her as well. He leaves the dying Countess crying out for Lulu as the curtain falls.
Interwoven with the stage action and vocal expressions of this new opera production, is the use of background projected paper and ink video projections in support of the stage actions. The celebrated South African visual artist, William Kentridge, provides this new take on what has been acclaimed as a “modernist 20th Century masterpiece.” In one recent review, what has been described as “Kentridge’s image factory,” provides for fantasy images of Lulu and her succession of men, along with her lesbian admirer, Countess Geschwitz.
The music, both vocal and orchestral, is composed with “12-tone technique,” may make some music lovers recoil because of the disharmonies. Yet one reviewer wrote, “people who are afraid of ‘12-tone’ (or ‘atonal’) music really owe it to themselves to hear this particular production.” Welsh National Opera music director, Lothar Koenigs, on short notice, steps in as conductor for this performance for Met music director James Levine. The sound he gets from the Met orchestra is said to lean hard on the score’s romantic attributes, described as a “landmark production.” For most of us, graduation to a visually enhanced contemporary opera opens up a unique opportunity to appreciate a new musical and artistic experience. Snacks and beverages will be served during the two intermissions.
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