Monday, November 3, 2014

Lulu in Barcelona 2010

Berg's Lulu performed at Gran Teatro del Liceu, Barcelona in 2010

"Released in late 2011, Deutsche Grammophon’s DVD of the new staging of Berg’s Lulu at the Gran Teatro del Liceu, Barcelona is an excellent contribution to the discography of this fascinating opera."
Jim Zychowicz

The faustic, mesmerizing and surrealistic performance of Alban Berg's Lulu in Gran Teatro del Liceu works as a whole. It only works as a whole.

Taking apart from the whole, Berg's 12 tone music with all its brilliance and emotional power would be in-comprehensive.

Remove the extraordinary setting of the stage, the props, the neon lights, and you take air out of the wheel.

Replace the wide-eyed lead singer Patricia Petibon with someone else and I wonder do you have the same experience of an artist giving her everything to perform art in this most sophisticated and twisted form of modern opera.

Same goes for the lesbian Countess Geschwhitz, Julia Juon, who makes this dark tale so real to life.

And the list goes on. This performance of Lulu works as a whole and is an unforgettable experience for the viewers.

Alban Berg (1885 - 1935)
Image Wikimedia

Austrian composer Alban Berg died only 50 years old from complications of an insect bite in Christmas 24, 1935. Today Berg's star is rising like that of his artist friend in the Vienna school, painter Gustav Klimm.

And yes, Alban Berg too was there in the blood soaked trenches of the First World War seeing first hand one of the worst human slaughterhouses in history. It certainly had him thinking the state of humanity and the meaning or meaninglessness of life.

The next chapter, the Anshluss of Austria to Germany, took place about three years later in March 1938. Lulu thus represents the post World War I culture in central Europe before the cultural purges even as it was composed between 1929 and 1935 during the time Nazis were rising to power so despising the weaklings and decadence of the 20's portrayed in the opera.

The power of Lulu as performed in Barcelona is in the strange impact of the whole as the real human experience, being a man and being a woman. It speaks not so much to the rational man or woman but rather to the human soul inside. It uses the language of music and symbolism to explore the depths and heights of human existence. Not only is money mentioned, but the exact sum of 20.000 marks.

The performance ends with naked Lulu dying at the hands of Jack the Ripper in the position of the Crucified.

I did not see the ending before curtain fall as blasphemous.

Rather, I saw it as a silent prayer "Somebody out there help us humans, we are dying in our sins."

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