Wolfgang Rihm (*1952)
Text by Michael Fröhling after Georg Büchner’s «Lenz»
In German. Duration 1 H. 10 Min. Without intermission. Introduction 45 min before the performance.
«Als jage der Wahnsinn auf Rossen hinter ihm» («As though he were chased by madness astride horses») – Jakob Lenz wanders through the mountains in January 1778. The persecuted poet finds refuge with the Alsatian priest Oberlin. Based on his historical notes, Georg Büchner described the fate of this young, highly sensitive outsider of the Sturm und Drang period in his novella Lenz. In 1978, this text inspired the then 25-year-old composer Wolfgang Rihm to write what would become not only one of his early successes, but what would become one of the most successful chamber operas of the 20th century. According to Rihm, the musical result of Lenz’s state is «an hour of extreme chamber music, not commentary, but the main character himself as a multilayered level of action.» Rihm primarily set to music the voices «that only Lenz hears». With its highly expressive, sharp-edged yet lyrically sensitive nature, Rihm’s music reveals the soul of his protagonist. This chamber opera, in which «the human often turns into the fairy-tale-like», will be staged as part of our program for Rihm’s 70th birthday by Swiss director Mélanie Huber. She is no stranger to interpreting the concept of the outsider for the theater, having previously dealt with Robert Walser’s Kleist in Thun and Melville’s Bartleby.