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Ensemble

Worldly Forces

Alban Berg's 'Wozzeck' at San Diego Opera,
reviewed by MARIA NOCKIN

 

The libretto for Alban Berg's opera Wozzeck is based on an unfinished play by Georg Büchner who lived from 1813 to 1837. He was a politically active medical student who espoused worker's rights. In 1833 he was involved in an unsuccessful revolutionary plot, as a result of which he fled the German state of Hesse for Switzerland. Settling in Zürich, he wrote three plays: Danton's Death, Leonce and Lena and a final unfinished manuscript which he called Woyzeck.

Franz Hawlata as Wozzeck and Joel Sorensen as Andres in the San Diego Opera production of 'Wozzeck'. Photo © 2007 Cory Weaver
Franz Hawlata as Wozzeck and Joel Sorensen as Andres in the San Diego Opera production of 'Wozzeck'. Photo © 2007 Cory Weaver

The idea for the plot was taken from the actual news story of a stabbing, but Büchner added much of his own thinking to it. Surprisingly, the author never thought of himself as a professional playwright and continued his university studies in Zürich until his death, probably from typhus, at the age of 24.

Dean Peterson as The Doctor in the San Diego Opera production of 'Wozzeck'. Photo © 2007 Cory Weaver
Dean Peterson as The Doctor in the San Diego Opera production of 'Wozzeck'. Photo © 2007 Cory Weaver

Büchner never readied the play for the stage. He left a number of scenes unfinished and there is no way of knowing which of them he would have staged. He fleshed out only the characters of Woyzeck and Marie, but it is thought that he wanted everyone else to be a caricature, except for the child who seems to represent totally innocent nature, as yet untouched by worldly forces.

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Copyright © 13 May 2007 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA

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