The Originals - Lulu (Gesamtaufnahme) Box-Set
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Berg: Lulu (3 CDs)
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Diese berühmte Aufnahme aus dem Jahre 1979 (unmittelbar nach der Weltpremiere der kompletten Version der Oper in drei Akten produziert) ist jetzt unter dem Label Legendäre Aufnahmen der Deutschen Grammophon Gesellschaft in einer digital aufbereiteten Form erhältlich. Diese Neuauflage hört sich an wie gute Hausmannskost und nicht wie irgend etwas radikal Neues, wenn auch der neue Klang sicherlich klarer und strahlender ist. Aber ich sehe weit und breit nicht irgendwelche weltbewegenden neuen Offenbarungen. Aber das ist wohl kaum der wesentliche Aspekt; die Aufnahme selbst ist vielleicht eine der größten musikalischen Entdeckungen des 20. Jahrhunderts und wahrhaftig eine phänomenale Leistung.
Pierre Boulez dirigiert Bergs köstlich bissige Partitur, als ob er sie genau in dem jeweiligen Augenblick selbst komponieren würde, so spontan sind die Wechsel der Tempi und der Beschleunigung. Dennoch ist gleichzeitig alles bis zum kleinsten Detail der Orchestrierung unter Kontrolle, konzentriert und gelenkt. Teresa Stratas ist atemberaubend in der Titelrolle und vermittelt Lulus Herzlosigkeit und Verwundbarkeit mit der wilden Unerschrockenheit einer Heldensängerin. Aber Lulu ist ebenfalls eine echte Lachnummer voller Galgenhumor (an einer Stelle fragt Lulu mit Unschuldsmiene: "Ist das nicht das Sofa, auf dem dein Vater verblutete?"
Die größte Leistung von Boulez ist die Balance, die er zwischen dem Cartoon-ähnlichen Spaß einerseits und echtem, ergreifendem Pathos andererseits hält. Fabelhaft. --Warwick Thompson
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Sicher sollte man auch den rekonstruierten 3. Akt einmal gehört haben, aber mir persönlich würde eine Aufführung, die als 3. Akt nur die von Berg fertiggestellten Teile aus der Lulu-Suite verwendet (mit dem Todesschrei Lulus!) besser gefallen.
This woman is a femme fatale so common in the clichés of the Belle Epoque from the Eiffel Tower to just before the Black Friday. She is an easy woman, not really a prostitute, at least at the beginning. A woman who wants to be free and finds her freedom in the love, meaning sex of course and derangement of the mind, she inspires in men around her and she has no limits, no sense either. She is absolutely crazy in her hunger for victims falling to her sex appeal. Even a Prince is caught but she cannot choose and runs away to one more and one more and one more. Some actually die along the way and she becomes the beast to be hunted and tracked down. The police is coming. She is helped out and suggested to disappear in Egypt or locked up in a house for the sole pleasure of one man who would cover the trip or pay for the refuge. She refuses in the name of her freedom in a way. Then we follow her descent into hell that is represented by the last three men she will get. A dealer in religious goods that has lost God. A black man clearly called a N**** (sorry for the word but such characters were common in European culture in that period due to the colonialization of Africa and the still pending experience of nazi racism) in the libretto and the opera, and finally the anachronism of all centuries, Jack the Ripper who will of course rip her up and finish her up forever. But what is most interesting in this opera is the complete transformation of the role of music.
A turnaround seems to have taken place in the music as well as in the opera in these 1930s. The music is no longer a "decoration", a beautiful virtuosity, which it became at the end of the Middle Ages and with the Renaissance. It does not go back to the religious finality it had before of expressing the divine beauty of God's creation and God's teaching or message. But it is not either any more some entertaining element that had to please the senses as represented in the evolution in the 18th and 19th centuries. It has become part of the plot and the libretto. An opera is all sensory because it is synesthetic but this synesthesia is expressed by the merging of the various levels of the opera: the music, the singing, the language, the meaning, the plot, and of course the stage production. Music is not there to embellish the scene, or to enable the singers to glow and shine. The music builds the density of the plot, of the opera. The "instrumental and vocal" music is only part of the vast all-mediatic and all sensory music of a modern opera from plot to stage.
The end comes from Lulu's own hands. Lulu introduces Jack the Ripper as her latest street conquest and she negotiates her deal or trick with him but she is a novice and Jack is actually paid by her for the business that is in no way shady at this moment but a pure suicide or execution. A complete reversal. She takes him to the bedroom. The Countess then sings the dirge that announces Lulu's death that comes after her four "nein" and her death-cry. Jack comes out and washes his hands, like Pilate in another situation. The Countess closes the story with a call to Lulu the angel, which reminds us of her commitment just before Lulu's death to the rights of women. This opera then becomes an archetype by this very story.
Aren't women who want to be free reduced to prostitution and death? Is the future of women's rights in the fake freedom these prostitutes represent? Is the end always death in the hands of some perverse sex addict? Can such a woman only bring death and ruin to the men who love her? Can she only satisfy murderers like Jack the Ripper?
And the music builds the whole story. The contradictory tendencies, interpretations, the play in the play. What we see - voyeurs that we are - is not what it means. Life is a stage on which human beings strut and play their parts. But music on the stage turns the actors into actors of themselves, twofold, double, dual actors or marionettes that are playing a mental play inside the superficial visible play, and that mental play is revealed by the music and the singing. The music reveals the second depth of the play.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris Dauphine, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne & University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines
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Berg's music for this drama is twelve-tone serialism, but of the very Viennese flavour typical for this composer. If you are unsure whether you are up for a couple of hours of such music, try the "Lulu Suite" that Berg compiled from music for the opera (best heard under Boulez and the NY Philharmonic on a Sony disc). But I think that the lushness of the orchestration and the prevalence of waltz rhythms will prove accessible to any listener who enjoys Mahler's symphonies. The music is like a rich piece of cake. I especially admire "Lulu" for keeping the roles so musically delineated a la Wagner. Lulu, the Countess, Dr. Schön and his son Alwa each have distinct vocal parts and orchestral accompaniment, far from the greyness typically associated with modernism.
Berg worked on the opera from 1929 until his untimely death in 1935, but the orchestration of some of the third act was incomplete. While Berg's widow kept an iron grip on the rights, after her death the Austrian composer Friedrich Cerha was able to complete the third act. This Deutsche Grammophon release documents the 1979 premiere of this completed version. Pierre Boulez conducts the Orchestre de l'Opera de Paris, with Teresa Stratas in the title role. I am not one to obsessively compare recordings of classic works, but I'll simply say that this is an entertaining recording in fine sound. While I used a video recording to "crack" this work (as opera can't be fully appreciated without the visual element), I go for this DG recording when I want to just listen to the music while doing something else.
I say, first, of the opera itself. I was deeply into romanticism before this point, and now I rethink my tastes. True, Lulu can have intensely romantic stretches, but also something more. Something more real, that is. The 12-tone composition can be difficult, but just listen, and it dawns. It is face-paced and exciting, and always very convincing dramatically, due to the tendancy of the format to follow patterns of speech rather than melodies that are "pleasant to the ear," Of course, through this all, Lulu manages to be very pleasant to the ear, if you have an open mind.
First, I was hooked in by the very abstract and interesting story. Lulu, I thought at first, was just one of those "chew them up and spit them out" heroines, but that is not father from the truth. She lives in an innocent world of her own, completely oblivious to the princples of right and wrong. It is the twisted desires, devious actions, character flaws and infortitudes of those surrounding her that give her the illusion of being corrupt. The libretto, writtten by the composer, is brilliant. It brings out a captivating and very risque story-- banned later in Nazi Germany for being "degenerate art."
As for the singing, I have a few comments as well. I've heard some rather harsh criticisms concerning Teresa Stratas in the title role. I think they are unwarranted. Stratas is an artist I have immense respect for, and I think her the perfect Lulu. She has a remarkable meekness in her stage-presence and voice that draws sympathy and pathos. This, in conflict with the character's actions, show what Lulu was intended to be. Her voice is glorious in this recording, and she sends a chilling stillness through her occasional coloratura that give perfect effect. Many claim she's too unsure too be Lulu, but I think that makes this recording. Of course, the other singers are top-rate as well. Kenneth Reigel as Alwa never falters on the high notes, but barrages them gracefully. Yvonne Minton plays a warm Geswitz, though not as adapted to sprechstimme as the rest of the crew. However, her final dying plea to Lulu, after Jack the Ripper leaves is intensely haunting and moving. And, lastly, we have a properly ill-tempered Dr. Schon.
If you wish to try sopmething new, grab a copy of this recording-- a great rendition of a sadly neglected opera.
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