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June 2015: The Cologne Opera hosted by Kolumba
Leoš Janácek »Diary of One Who Vanished« (1917-1919)
Gustav Holst »Savitri« (1916)
The cooperation between our two institutions seems obvious since not only are we neighbors, merely separated by the Nord-Süd Fahrt Street, we are also examples for new starts. Kolumba because of its chapel, designed by Gottfried Böhm in 1949, and expanded already in 1956 to become the "Madonna in the Ruins". And the Opera because of its influential building by Wilhelm Riphan, dedicated in 1957 and presently undergoing extensive renovation works. Both buildings are impressive attests to the decisive new cultural beginning following the destruction of the city in the war. Yet before the opera opens again at its old location at the end of the year, we are delighted to announce this cooperation. Welcome back to the old city district! As always, in such undertakings, Kolumba views itself as a venue for experiencing unique situations with art and with contents that may simply not be better accomplished in any other place. With the double evening "Diary of One Who Vanished" and "Sāvitri", during which two works composed during World War I are being introduced, both of them balancing on the ridge between leave-taking/death and new beginning/joy, Oper Köln is providing a musical contribution to the current Kolumba exhibition, "playing by heart".
The "Diary of One Who Vanished" assumes a unique position with respect to Czech and international music: This cycle of dramatized lieder for tenor, mezzo-soprano, and three women's voices was composed from 1917 to 1919. It is based on extremely emotional poems by an unknown author that had been published in a daily paper in Brno. Janácek was deeply moved by these poems about the love of the peasant son Janek to the gypsy girl Zefka, written in the spirit of epic folksongs. Zefka seduces Janek, and a short time later she becomes pregnant. Janek leaves his parents out of love for her and follows the gypsy girl into an unknown future. In his room a poem he wrote is found. At the same time it is a farewell letter, in which he sums up his love, his inner turmoil, and his decision to flee. The cycle consists of 21 lieder as well as a separate piano solo as an interlude. It reveals itself to be a deep psychological drama about two simple people. The entire cosmos of Janácek's musically dramatic material has been assembled here: emotional lyricism, dramatic tragedy, and expressively erotic passion.
Das libretto of the chamber opera "Sāvitri" is based on an episode from the Indian heroic epic, "Mahābhārata", translated into English by the composer Gustav Holst himself. He adapted the text, written ca. 400 B.C. and condensed it into the quintessential tale of the victory of love over death. The eponymous heroine Sāvitri (mezzo-soprano) manages to save the life of her husband Satyavan (tenor) as a result of conversing with death personified (bass) – not by trickery, but by means of the purity and integrity of her being that allows her to claim with plausibility that her husband is part of herself. Gustav Holst was trained according to Henry Purcell's technique of composition and his works include, among other things, "The Planets". With the short opera, "Sāvitri", which premiered in London in 1916, Holst was able to achieve his very individual style, and thus, gain distance from the influence of his model Richard Wagner.
Premiere: 30 May 2015 (sold out)
4, 6, 10, 13, 16 June 2015, each performance at 8 p.m.
Tickets available at the Opera and via Köln-Ticket (www.operkoeln.com | www.koelnticket.de)
Musical Direction & Piano: Rainer Mühlbach
Stage Production: Béatrice Lachaussée
Set Design: Nele Ellegiers
Lighting: Andreas Grüter
Diary of One Who Vanished:
Tenor: John Heuzenroeder
Mezzo-soprano: Adriana Bastidas Gamboa
Three female voices: Justyna Samborska, Judith Thielsen
Klavier: Rainer Mühlbach
Satyavãn: Taejun Sun
Sãvitri: Adriana Bastidas Gamboa
Death: Luke Stoker
Voices: Dongmin Lee, Justyna Samborska, Judith Thielsen, Keith Bernard Stonum
Orchester: Gürzenich-Orchester Köln
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