OPERA IN TWO ACTS
Libretto by Alban Berg based on the tragedies Erdgeist and Die Büchse der Pandora by Frank Wedekind
arranged by the composer
Alban Berg’s unfinished opera after Frank Wedekind’s tragedies Erdgeist (Earth Spirit, 1895) and Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora’s Box, 1902) was first performed in 1937. Introduced as “the true animal, the wild, beautiful animal”, Lulu accompanies the rise and fall of her lovers and husbands until she is murdered by Jack the Ripper. Portrayed as both a femme fatale and a femme fragile, the titular heroine appears as the portrait that is painted of her by others. Is Lulu the victim of a juggernaut of masculine oppression and bourgeois hypocrisy, or is she herself a monstrous juggernaut of seduction? Following her invitation to stage Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot lunaire at the Wiener Festwochen in 2021, the choreographer and dancer Marlene Monteiro Freitas, born in Cape Verde, finds an inspirational accomplice in Lulu. Together with the French conductor Maxime Pascal, a passionate advocate of the modern, she has chosen an open-ended form for the unfinished third act which is supplemented by parts of Berg’s Lulu suite.
A joint project by Wiener Festwochen and MusikTheater an der Wien
In German with German & English surtitles
Introduction to the work 30 minutes before the performance
Lulu - Gerhard Richter
With: Francisco Rolo, Henri “Cookie” Lesguillier, Ina Wojdyła, Joãozinho da Costa, Kyle Scheurich, Nina Van der Pyl, Rui Paixão, Tomás Moital
ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien
Act I In a painter’s studio, Lulu is posing for a portrait. The newspaper editor Dr. Schön, who picked Lulu up off the streets, has arranged her marriage to the much older medical officer Dr. Goll. His son Alwa, a young composer, collects him from the studio to take him to the final rehearsal of his new work. No sooner is the painter alone with Lulu than the two of them begin an erotic chasing game. Lulu’s husband suddenly comes back. His jealousy is so intense that he has a heart attack and dies. – Lulu has married the painter whose portrait of her has made him a star. Dr. Schön tells Lulu that he is about to marry and demands that she break off all contact with him. Schön reminds the painter of his responsibility towards Lulu and tells him about her past and her promiscuity. The painter is so appalled that he commits suicide. – Dr. Schön has found Lulu a job as a dancer to help her find a new husband. During the performance of a play for which Alwa wrote the music, she notices Schön and his fiancée in a box and faints. In the dressing room an angry Dr. Schön demands that she continue dancing. Lulu turns the tables and forces Schön to write a farewell letter to his fiancée.
Act II Lulu has married Schön. He watches suspiciously as the lesbian countess Geschwitz makes amorous advances toward Lulu. When Schön goes out, the shifty old man Schigolch, a schoolboy, an athlete and Alwa, who has long been in love with Lulu, arrive. Schön finds the house full his wife’s lovers and wants to force her to take her own life. But instead, Lulu shoots at Dr. Schön. Now this husband dies as well. Lulu is arrested. – Risking both her life and her fortune, Countess Geschwitz has helped Lulu escape from prison. The plan is now for the athlete to marry Lulu and leave the country with her, but he refuses to see it through. Alwa escapes with her.
Podcast (in German)