- Saturday JULY 6 7:30 PM
- Sunday JULY 14 2:00 PM
- Tuesday JULY 16 7:30 PM
- Friday JULY 19 7:30 PM
The Opera That Changed Everything
The quintessential “modern” opera, Wozzeck still hasn’t lost its bite. Alban Berg’s masterpiece combines music of intense emotional power with a profoundly dramatic story. Berated by his captain and overcome by jealousy, Wozzeck tries to make sense of his fragmented, dreamlike mental state with disastrous results. Nearly 100 years after its premiere, Wozzeck still sounds dramatically modern. But the style that shocked listeners in 1925 sounds seamlessly natural today, so perfectly suited to character and incident that the drama and its soundtrack unfold together with utter clarity.
Alban Berg, after a play by Georg Büchner
14 December 1925
German (with English supertitles)
*The opera will be performed without an intermission and is approximately 98 minutes long*
The soldier Wozzeck is shaving his Captain, who alleviates his fears about his own mortality by teasing Wozzeck about his illegitimate child. Wozzeck maintains that poor people cannot afford morality and defends himself by quoting the Bible. Later, while cutting wood with his friend Andres, Wozzeck finds himself tormented by strange visions. Marie - the mother of Wozzeck's child - notices a Drum Major from the local military band who passes by her window and admires her. Wozzeck arrives, wanting to share his visions with Marie, but cannot bring himself to stay with her or even look at the child. To earn more money, Wozzeck submits himself to the Doctor's bizarre medical experiments. Meanwhile, tempted by the advances of the Drum Major, Marie yields to her impulses.
In Marie’s room, Wozzeck asks her about some new earrings she has. Unwilling to admit that they were a gift from the Drum Major, she says she found them in the street. But after Wozzeck’s departure, Marie feels guilt for her lie. The Captain and the Doctor interrupt their dark conversation to goad Wozzeck about Marie’s behavior. Wozzeck confronts her, trying to force an admission of infidelity. When he sees her dancing with the Drum Major at the beer garden, he is overcome with rage. Later, the Drum Major mocks Wozzeck and beats him.
Marie reads a Bible passage about Mary Magdalene. Later, walking with her by a pond, Wozzeck accuses Marie of infidelity. When Marie tries to flee, he stabs her. Townspeople see the blood on his hands. Out of his mind, Wozzeck returns to the pond to hide his knife and wash his hands in the water. Passing nearby, the Captain and the Doctor hear him drown. Outside the house, Marie's child plays with his hobby horse. Soon neighborhood children tease him about his mother's death and run off to see her body.
"A Guide to Alban Berg’s Opera Wozzeck" by Dr. Willi Reich
"No contemporary opera has been more thoroughly debated than Alban Berg’s Wozzeck. The appearance of the piano-score in 1923 incited controversies which became passionately intense upon the occasion of the Berlin premiere. Even though we may be able today to reduce that early conflict of opinion to its proper proportions, the unprecedented intensity of expression in Wozzeck continues to present many problems to an unprepared audience; problems that, however, have no influence at all upon the tremendous final effect which this setting of Buchner’s drama produces on every unprejudiced listener."