Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Nonesuch to Release Metropolitan Opera's 2015 Staging of Alban Berg's "Lulu" on Blu-ray/DVD

For those who might have missed the live broadcast comes this welcome news....

From the Nonesuch website: "Nonesuch Records releases the Metropolitan Opera's performance of Alban Berg's Lulu on Blu-ray and DVD together in one package on October 28, 2016. The Met's new production, directed by acclaimed South African visual artist William Kentridge, premiered in 2015 and starred Marlis Petersen in her final performances as Lulu, a role she has made "hers and almost hers alone" (Opera News) in ten different productions over eighteen years. The New York Times called it "a stunning and searing production." Lulu was recorded and broadcast live in movie theaters around the world as part of The Met: Live in HD on November 21, 2015. The Lulu Blu-ray/DVD may be pre-ordered now from the Nonesuch Store. You can watch the Met's trailer for the production below.

Kentridge received acclaim for his previous work at the Met directing the company premiere of Dmitri Shostakovich's The Nose in 2010. This new Lulu, conducted by Lothar Koenigs, featured Susan Graham as the Countess Geschwitz, Daniel Brenna as Alwa, Paul Groves as The Painter/African Prince, Johan Reuter as Dr. Schön/Jack the Ripper, and Franz Grundheber as Schigolch. Lulu's production team included co-director Luc De Wit, set designer Sabine Theunissen, costume designer Greta Goiris, lighting designer Urs Schönebaum, and projection designer Catherine Meyburgh, all of whom also worked on The Nose.

Berg's monumental opera, which he left unfinished when he died in 1935, had its posthumous premiere in its incomplete version in 1937, with the three-act version that has become standard premiering in 1979. The opera tells the tragic story of a young woman who, as a victim of a harsh society, torments a series of men by whom she is objectified, desired, abused, and eventually killed. "She's ungraspable, and a fantastic white canvas for the men to put their ideas on," says Petersen about her character, in an interview with Graham.

Berg adapted the libretto from Frank Wedekind's two Lulu plays, Erdgeist (Earth Spirit, 1895) and Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora's Box, 1904). He wrote the music using the 12-tone style conceived of his teacher, Arnold Schönberg, but with a nod to Romanticism that makes it unusually accessible for something written by a Schönberg disciple. "Berg made it very tonal, actually, for us and also for the ears of the audience," says Petersen. "You don't hear the 12-tone music."

"Lulu is one of the great operas of the 20th century," says Kentridge, speaking on video about the production. "It's an opera that's about the fragility or the possibility or the fragmentation of desire…Ink is the primary medium of the production. Essentially [it's] the vehemence of a black brushstroke… trying to find some equivalent, visually, to the violence of the opera."

Kentridge's production will be presented at English National Opera in November 2016; for tickets, visit

The Kentridge staging of Berg's Lulu was a big deal last year in New York City. Check out this Huffington Post piece, "Lulu-mania Sweeps New York City."

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