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World Premiere of Heinz Holliger’s Lunea at Opernhaus Zürich

Feb. 27, 2018

World Premiere of Heinz Holliger’s <em>Lunea</em> at Opernhaus Zürich

On March 4, the Opernhaus Zürich presents the world premiere of Heinz Holliger’s second full-length stage work Lunea, two decades following his opera Schneewittchen which was also composed for the Zürich opera house. Holliger's new opera is based on the composer's existing song cycle Lunea, first sung by Christian Gerhaher in 2013. Gerhaher reprises the lead role of Lenau in the world premiere of the new opera and is joined by sopranos Juliane Banse and Sarah Maria Sun, mezzo-soprano Annette Schönmüller and baritone Ivan Ludlow.

The opera Lunea presents the life and character of the Late Romantic poet Nikolaus Lenau with a libretto by Händl Klaus. Rather than follow a linear biographical narrative, the opera instead depicts the vibrant personality of the poet in 23 aphoristic streams of thought and dream images. Some of Lenau’s texts set by Holliger consist of only a few lines. In their relentless focus on the essential, they become the concentrated emotion that entered the history of ideas as ‘Weltschmerz’. Holliger musically underlines the expressive and disjointed structure of the texts with the solo violin given particular prominence, a fond nod to Lenau who played both violin and guitar.

Lunea is an expression of Holliger’s fascination with artists who developed mental disorders towards the end of their lives, alongside his Violin Concerto ‘Hommage à Louis Soutter’, the Scardanelli-Zyklus dedicated to Friedrich Hölderlin, the Siebengesang on a poem by Georg Trakl and his homage to Robert Schumann, Romancendres. Lenau was admitted to a psychiatric clinic following a stroke in 1844 and was considered mentally ill up to his death in 1850.

Heinz Holliger conducts the Philharmonia Zürich and Basler Madrigalisten in the premiere performances. The production is by Andreas Homoki.

(Lunea (2013)/Heinz Holliger/Collegium Novum Zürich/Heinz Holliger, conductor/
Robert Koller, Baritone)

For more information, visit

Heinz Holliger
Lunea (2017)
Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern
Libretto von Händl Klaus
nach Texten von Nikolaus Lenau
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