November 25 –December 18

Wozzeck

A powerful meeting with a modern masterpiece

 

Intro

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Alban Berg’s opera Wozzeck is about human vulnerability and desperation in a brutal world. It’s a modern masterpiece which stands out amongst the operas of the 20th century, and creates music out of a range of emotions: from hope and joy to existential angst and infinite sorrow.

The young soldier Wozzeck is mocked and taken advantage of by his superiors. He makes a bit of money on the side for his girlfriend Marie and their bastard son by letting a doctor perform medical experiments on him. When his beloved Marie, another victim of circumstance, is unfaithful to him, his world gradually falls apart. The result is fatal. 

A successful production

“A powerful and stimulating evening that will take your breath away,” wrote the Frankfurter Neue Presse when this production premiered at Oper Frankfurt in June 2016. The stage director Christof Loy focuses on the interior life of the characters, and gives them clear-cut characteristics. Together with Herbert Murauer’s powerful backdrops and Berg’s intense music, he transports us into Wozzeck’s progressing delusions, his confused self-image and his doubts. 

The Norwegian baritone Audun Iversen sang the lead role in Frankfurt, much to the excitement of its critics: “With his warm and resonant voice, he shows us how one who is trapped in his own madness finds solace through his absurd visions,” praised the reviewer of the Frankfurter Rundschaus. Iversen sings the title role again in Oslo.

Voices and jealousy

Wozzeck is based on a true story. The year is 1821, and a soldier from Leipzig kills his girlfriend. He explains to the doctors and the judges that he had heard voices commanding him to stab her to death.

For three years the judges and psychiatrists debate whether Johann Christian Woyzeck was of sound mind at the time of the crime. After concluding that the murder was committed out of jealousy, he is executed by decapitation with a sword at Marktplatz on August 24th, 1824.

The execution got a lot of publicity, and inspired the poet Georg Büchner to write a drama about a poor soldier ruined by his circumstances. The incomplete play was first performed in 1914, with Alban Berg amongst the audience. He perceived at once that this was a theme for an opera, and immediately got to work on the piece. But the progress of the composition was interrupted by WWI, when the composer himself had to serve as a soldier in the Austro-Hungarian army. The original premiere was held at the Berlin State Opera on the 14th of December, 1925, and the opera quickly became a modern classic.   

  • Premiere discussion
  • Free introduction one hour before the performance
  • Music Alban Berg
  • Libretto Alban Berg, etter Georg Büchners drama Woyzeck
  • Conductor Lothar Koenigs
  • Director Christof Loy
  • Revival Director Corinna Tetzel
  • Set Designer Herbert Murauer
  • Costume Designer Judith Weihrauch
  • Lighting Designer Olaf Winter
  • Dramaturg Norbert Abels

    Roles

    Main roles

    • Marie

      Asmik Grigorian
      Playing the following days
      • 25. Nov 2017
      • 29. Nov 2017
      • 3. Dec 2017
      • 7. Dec 2017
      • 13. Dec 2017
      • 16. Dec 2017
      • 18. Dec 2017
    • Wozzeck

      Audun Iversen
      Playing the following days
      • 25. Nov 2017
      • 29. Nov 2017
      • 3. Dec 2017
      • 7. Dec 2017
      • 13. Dec 2017
      • 16. Dec 2017
      • 18. Dec 2017

    Other roles

    Synopsis

    1. act

    Wozzeck suffers from delusional anxiety. Unable to work full time, he earns what he can by doing odd jobs to support Marie, the mother of his child, and himself. Every day he shaves the captain of the army, in which he used to serve; he helps his comrade Andres with simple work and puts himself at the disposal of the doctor, for ominous nutritional experiments.

    Whenever Wozzeck tries to communicate his fearsome visions to others he is met with incomprehension or the dubious interest of the doctor, who regards him as a «phenomenon».

    Wozzeck and Marie have grown apart. Marie thinks of him only as the father of their child. She dreams of another life and feels drawn to the drum major, who has long had his eyes on the woman, whose secret desires he has guessed. They end up falling into one another's arms.

    2. act

    Wozzeck suspects that Marie is having an affair with the drum major but does not dare reproach her. A Wozzeck has no right to do so. And, more importantly, he can not bear to accept that this last relationship, which gives him security, is just an illusion.

    The captain, doctor, Andres and even the village idiot – all make it clear to him that the whole town knows about Marie's fling with the drum major. Wozzeck, who is docile by nature and whose only reading matter is the bible, loses his temper and takes Marie to task. Her vague answers provoke him further so that, more than ever before, he doubts about his ability to reason. When he tries to hit her, Marie puts him in his place: «Better a knife in my body than you lay a hand on me …» He lets go of her, repeating Marie's last words to himself.

    In the tavern Wozzeck, with complete sobriety, observes Marie and the drum major enjoying themselves. Everything spins around in his head, the music, the raucous men, Marie's squeals of delight. The drunk's philosophy and the fool's song: «I smell blood …»

    Wozzeck seeks out Andres in the barrack's dormitory. He is scared that he might murder Marie. Andres just can't deal with it. When the drunk drum major appears and beats Wozzeck up, there is no turning back for Wozzeck any more.

    3. act

    Marie realises that the drum major is not going to make her happy either. She feels ashamed when she sees her child, and begs the Saviour to forgive her adultery.
    She meets Wozzeck again and they go for a walk. Both feel once again, for the last time, deep affection for one another.

    Wozzeck wants to remember this moment of happiness as the last chapter in their love story, and kills Marie. He tries to forget what has happened in a bar. He, who never picks women up, approaches Marie's neighbor Margret. She asks why he ahs blood on his hand and elbow. Wozzeck runs out in panick. He drowns in a pond near the place where he murdered Marie.

    Marie's child finds out from children playing that his mother has been murdered.

    Hør hva regissøren og dirigenten tenker om verket!
    Wozzeck fra prøvesalen
    Her får du se litt av det du kan få oppleve i Wozzeck

    I disse tre filmene forteller Boris Schäfer om hvordan Alban Berg brukes musikalske temaer som byggesteiner, og hvordan musikken beskriver de ulike personene.

    Boris Schäfer beskriver Maries musikalske motiv
    Boris Schäfer beskriver Wozzeck og Kapteinens musikalske motiv
    Boris Schäfer beskriver de musikalske motivene hos Andres og Doktoren
    Hør regissør Christof Loy diskutere Wozzeck med psykologspesialisten Pål Grøndahl og professor David Levin. Intimkonsert med utdrag fra verket.

    1. akt, 4. scene (Frode Olsen i rollen som Doktoren)

     

    Militærmarsj etterfulgt av Maries vuggesang

    Epilog

    Som et slag i ansiktet

    Tekst: Camilla Yndestad

    «Med sin varme og klangfulle stemme viser han hvordan en som er fanget i sin egen galskap, finner frihet i absurde visjoner», meldte den tyske avisen Frankfurter Rundschau etter Audun Iversens Wozzeck-debut for halvannet år siden.

    – Det er jo en monumental rolle innenfor stemmefaget mitt. Visst var det ubehagelig å gjøre den, men jeg nøt forestillingene i Frankfurt. Samme hvor utslitt jeg var, selv om stemmen var herpa etter forestilling og prøve, så ønsket jeg å gå inn i rollen på nytt, flere ganger og bedre.

    Jeg har snakket med andre kolleger som også har gjort rollen. Fel­les for oss alle er at vi vil tilbake til den hele tiden. Kanskje fordi den er noe av det mest utfordrende, men samtidig mest berikende å gjøre – det ser jeg nå.

    Wozzeck er etter min mening en av opera­litteraturens aller beste operaer, den har i seg en sånn umiddelbarhet som publikum i dag gjerne vil ha.

    Ikke én overflødig tone

    – Men hvorfor er det en av de beste operaene som har blitt skrevet, synes du?

    – Det er mange grunner til det, først og fremst er det selve håndverket. Musikken er ek­stremt 
komplisert, men det er ikke én tone som er overflødig. Man kan sitte og lytte til Wozzeck og tenke «dæven for et kaos», men når du får hele operaen presentert, så er det som en organisme som føles mye mer romantisk enn operaen opprinnelig er. Storyen er veldig rørende, heavy og brutal.

    – Hvordan forbereder du deg til å gå inn i en sånn rolle?

    – Altså, Wozzecks følelsesspekter avhenger av hva eller hvem man gjør personen til. Er han et offer for Marie og de tre mannfolka – som jo manipulerer ham, eller velger man å gjøre ham til en syk mann?

    – Hvem gjør du ham til, da?

    – I denne produksjonen er det litt begge deler. Det er en balanse mellom indre og ytre kaos. Selv om jeg kjenner veldig på ønsket om å forme denne komplekse personen med sine styrker, svakheter, galskap og fornuft.

    – Hvordan jobbet du da du skulle gå inn i rollen første gangen?

    – Det var et ganske blankt lerret for meg, sånn sett. Jeg hadde aldri sunget en tone fra operaen tidligere – så i starten var det egentlig opp til de dyktige folka jeg jobbet med musikalsk. Da produksjonen var i gang, ønsket jeg å være veldig åpen på prøvene, og ba Christof om at han måtte forme meg slik han ville.

    Rollen krever erfaring, så nå jeg gleder meg til å kunne legge til litt mer av meg selv i denne produksjonen enn jeg kunne da jeg var helt fersk i rollen for halvannet år siden.

    Den historiske Woyzeck ble henrettet ved halshugging med sverd på Marktplatz i Leipzig 24. august 1824. Audun studerte selv et år der, og har sett bilde av tegningen fra folkeoppmøtet rundt den offentlige henrettelsen.

    – Jeg følte jeg kom litt nærmere, i og med at jeg kjente litt til stedene – selv om Leipzig på begynnelsen av 2000-tallet ikke var det samme som på 1800-tallet. Og så er det det fragmenterte dramaet, da. Det er veldig surrealistisk – Büchner var langt, langt forut for sin tid.

    Lyttende og generøs regissør

    – Regissøren, Christof Loy, ble i 2017 kåret til beste regissør av International Opera Awards. Hvordan har det vært å jobbe med ham?

    – Supert! Han er krevende, veldig støttende, oppbyggende, utfordrende, og veldig komplett som regissør. Han er en god instruktør, en generøs person, og en god kollega – han lytter, og forstår deg når du står der og prøver noe du ikke får til.

    – Hvordan tror du det blir å gjøre Wozzeck på hjemmebane i Bjørvika, da?

    – Operaen er et veldig profesjonelt hus, med utrolig mange dyktige folk som er med på å gjøre forestillingene bra – det merket jeg blant annet på La traviata i 2015. Og så er det jo Hovedscenen, som er helt fenomenal å synge på!

    Wozzeck er så intens, så kort, som et slag i ansiktet. Folk trenger å se den, ass, den er så stor!

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