Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern by Heinz Holliger (*1939)
Libretto by Händl Klaus
In German with German and English surtitles. Duration 1 H. 45 Min. Without interval. Introduction 45 min before the performance.
Introductory matinee on 18 Feb 2018.
With the kind support of the Ringier AG
With financial support from FONDATION SUISA
The poet Nikolaus Lenau is one of the most fascinating artistic personalities of the Romantic period. A dramatist, political intellectual, guitarist and violinist, as well as the most successful lyricist of the Biedermeier period, he was a highly talented polymath. Lenau led a restless, intense life informed by his love for a succession of women before becoming mentally deranged in 1844, remaining in psychiatric care until his death in 1850. His most passionate and almost lifelong love affair was with Sophie von Löwenthal, the wife of his friend Max. With Sophie, Lenau maintained a dual correspondence that was split between “official” letters and unrestrainedly intimate messages.
The Swiss musician Heinz Holliger, one of today’s most important composers, was so drawn to Nikolaus Lenau’s transgressive life, work, ideas and sensibility that he made the figure of the poet the subject of his song Lunea, which was premièred by Christian Gerhaher five years ago at Zurich Opera House. Lunea in turn became the nucleus of a new opera about Nikolaus Lenau, which will now be premièred at Zurich Opera House.
In the course of his career, Heinz Holliger has repeatedly been fascinated by “insane” artistic personalities, as exemplified by his lifelong preoccupation with Robert Schumann and compositions that are thematically devoted to Hölderlin, Robert Walser or Adolf Wölfli. Holliger’s new work of musical theatre, for which the dramatist Händl Klaus, who is experienced in the world of opera, wrote the libretto, will not recount the life of the poet, but will shed light on texts, figures and situations from the cosmos of his life – through visions, flashes of insight and fantasy images. Christian Gerhaher will play the role of the highly sensitive, visionary madman, Lenau. Andreas Homoki will direct this stage interpretation, which sheds light on these 23 “pages from a life.”