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Ensemble

Seldom Performed

'Lulu' lands at La Scala,
by GIUSEPPE PENNISI

 

Alban Berg's Lulu is seldom performed in Italy, for several reasons: the difficulties in producing a music drama with fifteen soloists (in over thirty different roles) and an orchestra with the ability of marrying a nearly Wagnerian symphonic approach with a twelve-tone row system and to provide support to complex vocal lines (with traditional forms like rondo, arioso, cavatina, ensemble -- always on the verge of becoming concertati). Also, the plot is complex: based on two long and verbose plays by Frank Wedekind written around 1905 (when, in Vienna, psychoanalysis was receiving increasing intellectual curiosity), Berg compacted it into three terse acts. (The full orchestration of Act 3 was possible thanks to Friederich Cehra, only some thirty years after the composer's death.) Until 1979 when a Paris Opéra Chéreau-Boulez three-act production was presented, for only two evenings, the mutilated two act version was occasionally seen on Italian stages; Act 3 was presented with part of the music and excerpts from Pabst's film based on the Wedekind plays. There have been attempts (although not very successful) to produce Lulu in an Italian rhythmic translation. Thus, the current performances (until 30 April 2010) of Lulu at La Scala are a major musical and theatrical event...

Copyright © 11 April 2010 Giuseppe Pennisi,
Rome, Italy

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ALBAN BERG

LA SCALA

MILAN

ITALY

VIENNA

AUSTRIA

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