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Angels in America

Angels in America

Opera in two parts

Based on the play by Tony Kushner

Libretto by Mari Mezei


  • Edition: performance material
  • Language: English

 
description
The angels are singing now. More than a decade after Tony Kushner completed his immense play‚ Angels in America, the Hungarian composer-conductor Peter Eötvös has produced from it a slippery and musically delightful combination of opera and musical.
Mari Mezei’s version keeps the original chronology while focusing on the human drama of the central characters: the interweaving of anger, hopelessness and irony in Prior Walter, dying of AIDS; the love that evolves between his former boyfriend, Louis, and Joe, who is breaking away from a drained marriage to the confused and desperate Harper; and, as a grotesque sideshow, the death of the morally blind Roy Cohn.
There would be material here for a musical drama that, in a traditional manner, took hold of these characters and made them sing. But that is not what Eötvös has in mind, and his intuition is certainly right. In opera, the distinctions between realistic and non-realistic characters are erased. In opera, everyone is an angel.
Popular song is often just beneath the surface, and that, together with the obvious amplification, places the characters in the disturbing middle ground between opera and musical. In a way that suits this drama, the characters are forced to shift for themselves in a wasteland beyond normal genres. Prior shouts at the angels in heaven that God has gone and would not be welcomed back. Similarly, consistency has gone from this piece. The rhythms remain those of American English – it was partly the sound of the language that attracted Mr. Eotvos to the play – but the characters have to adapt to the buffeting of variable musical weather. They do not drive the opera: they are driven by it. (New York Times, 28.04.2004)

The two-part stage play (Millennium Approaches and Perestroika) by Tony Kushner is one of the most important dramatic works in 20th-century American literature. Since the 1990s, both plays have been among the most frequently performed plays of the present time; they have even been made into a film recently. The original 7-hour monumental drama being restructured by Mari Mezei, this opera version now has a duration of about two to two and a half hours. Commissioned by the Théâtre Le Châtelet in Paris, the opera will be performed for the first time at the theatre in November 2004.

The politically committed New York playwright Kushner describes the American neurosis of the turn of the millennium as a dark nightmare in a spectacular theatrical hallucination. Many of the main characters were real persons, such as Ethel Rosenberg who was put to death on the electric chair by a criminal lawyer (Roy Cohn), a collaborator of McCarthy. In Kushner's play and even in the opera, the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg appears to watch Roy Cohn die in agony of aids.

In this play, hallucination and reality merge perfectly. It is mainly this quality that has encouraged me to work with this subject, ever since I dealt with the idea for the first time five years ago.

In the opera version, I put less emphasis on the political line than Kushner; I rather focus on the passionate relationships, on the highly dramatic suspense of the wonderful text, on the permanently uncertain state of the visions.

The main character of the story, Prior Walter, has aids. Knowing that he has to die and fighting to survive, he invents an angel (in this case a female angel) who tells him to save the world as a prophet.

In his vision he rises to heaven, rejecting the mission in front of the astonished angels with the following words: 'I’ve lived through such terrible times, and there are people who live through much much worse, but... You see them living anyway. When they’re more spirit than body, more sores than skin, when flies lay eggs in the corners of the eyes of their children, they live. If I can find hope anywhere, that’s it, that’s the best I can do. I want more life'. He then lays down the Book Of The Prophets and returns down to earth.

The opera will be sung in English. Due to the very close proximity of the microphones to all singers and the 16 solo instruments, an intense, intimate, almost physical contact is created between the 8 actors and the audience.

(Peter Eötvös)
Details
Auftragswerk : Commande du Théâtre du Châtelet Paris
Kompositionsjahr bis : 2004
Performance duration: 180'0"
Publisher: Schott Music
Subtitle: Opera in two parts
Uraufführung : 23. November 2004 Paris, Théâtre du Châtelet (F) · Dirigent: Peter Eötvös · Assitant Conductor: Alejo Perez · Inszenierung: Philippe Calvario · Kostüme: Jan Morrell · Bühnenbild: Richard Peduzzi · Choreographie: Sophie Tellier (Aufführung der Originalfassung)

29. September 2012 Wrocław, Opera (PL) Contemporary Opera Festival Wrocław 2012 · soloists of Opera Wrocławska · Dirigent: Bassem Akiki · Opera Wrocławska Orchestra (konzertante Uraufführung der revidierten Fassung)
Year of composition: 2003-2004, rev. 2012
instrumentation: 2 (1. auch Altfl., 2. auch Picc. u. Altfl.) · 0 · 2 (2. auch Es-Klar.) · Bassklar. (auch Kb.-Klar.) · 2 Sax. (1.: Sopransax., Altsax., Baritonsax. · 2.: Altsax., Tenorsax.) · 0 - 0 · 1 (auch Picc.-Trp.) · 1 (Tenorpos. mit Quartventil) · 0 - S. (I: Vibr. · Marimba · Crot. · Beck. · chin. Beck. · Nietenbeck. · kl. Tr. · gr. Tr. · Tabla · Cabaça · Styropor-Platten [ad lib.]; II: Glsp. · Gongs · Röhrengl. · Tamt. · Metallröhren · Metall-Guiro · 2 Trgl. · Indische Schellen · Tube Maraca [Chocalho] · kl. Tamb. · gr. Tamborim · Whisper Chimes [Metal Chimes]) (2 Spieler) - Git. (verstärkt, auch Schellenbaum) · E-Git. · Cel. · Hammond-Org. (B3 mit Lesley-Box) - Str. (6 · 0 · 4 · 3 · 2)

Im Aufführungsmaterial sind diverse Klänge und Geräusche auf einer Zuspiel-CD enthalten. / A CD containing various sounds and noises is part of the hire material.
occupation: The Angel · Sopran - Harper Pitt (Joes Ehefrau) · Sopran (mit großem Stimmumfang) - Hannah Pitt (Joes Mutter) · Mezzosopran (mit großem Stimmumfang) - Joseph Pitt (Harpers Ehemann) · Bariton - Prior Walter (Louis' Freund) · lyrischer Bariton - Louis Ironson (Priors Freund) · Tenor - Belize (schwarze Krankenschwester) · Countertenor (Mezzosopran) - Roy Cohn (Rechtsanwalt) · Bass-Bariton -
Weitere Personen: Rabbi Chemelwitz, ein orthodoxer jüdischer Rabbi, gespielt von Hannah - Mr Lies, ein Reiseveranstalter, gespielt von Belize - Henry, Roys Arzt, gespielt von Hannah - Frau in der South Bronx, gespielt von Belize - Ghost 1, ein Geist des toten Prior Walter aus dem 13. Jahrhundert, gespielt von Roy - Ghost 2, ein Geist des toten Prior Walter aus dem 18. Jahrhundert, gespielt von Joe - Ethel Rosenberg, gespielt von Harper - Voice, gespielt von The Angel - Angel Antarctica, gespielt von Harper - Angel Asiatica, gespielt von Hannah - Angel Africanii, gespielt von Belize - Angel Oceania, gespielt von Louis - Angel Europe, gespielt von Joe - Angel Australia, gespielt von Roy -
Alle Sänger (im Graben wie auch auf der Bühne) werden elektronisch verstärkt. -
Im Orchestergraben: 3 Vokalisten (S, A, Bar) · 1 Tonmeister
The angels are singing now. More than a decade after Tony Kushner completed his immense play‚ Angels in America, the Hungarian composer-conductor Peter Eötvös has produced from it a slippery and musically delightful combination of opera and musical.
Mari Mezei’s version keeps the original chronology while focusing on the human drama of the central characters: the interweaving of anger, hopelessness and irony in Prior Walter, dying of AIDS; the love that evolves between his former boyfriend, Louis, and Joe, who is breaking away from a drained marriage to the confused and desperate Harper; and, as a grotesque sideshow, the death of the morally blind Roy Cohn.
There would be material here for a musical drama that, in a traditional manner, took hold of these characters and made them sing. But that is not what Eötvös has in mind, and his intuition is certainly right. In opera, the distinctions between realistic and non-realistic characters are erased. In opera, everyone is an angel.
Popular song is often just beneath the surface, and that, together with the obvious amplification, places the characters in the disturbing middle ground between opera and musical. In a way that suits this drama, the characters are forced to shift for themselves in a wasteland beyond normal genres. Prior shouts at the angels in heaven that God has gone and would not be welcomed back. Similarly, consistency has gone from this piece. The rhythms remain those of American English – it was partly the sound of the language that attracted Mr. Eotvos to the play – but the characters have to adapt to the buffeting of variable musical weather. They do not drive the opera: they are driven by it. (New York Times, 28.04.2004)

The two-part stage play (Millennium Approaches and Perestroika) by Tony Kushner is one of the most important dramatic works in 20th-century American literature. Since the 1990s, both plays have been among the most frequently performed plays of the present time; they have even been made into a film recently. The original 7-hour monumental drama being restructured by Mari Mezei, this opera version now has a duration of about two to two and a half hours. Commissioned by the Théâtre Le Châtelet in Paris, the opera will be performed for the first time at the theatre in November 2004.

The politically committed New York playwright Kushner describes the American neurosis of the turn of the millennium as a dark nightmare in a spectacular theatrical hallucination. Many of the main characters were real persons, such as Ethel Rosenberg who was put to death on the electric chair by a criminal lawyer (Roy Cohn), a collaborator of McCarthy. In Kushner's play and even in the opera, the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg appears to watch Roy Cohn die in agony of aids.

In this play, hallucination and reality merge perfectly. It is mainly this quality that has encouraged me to work with this subject, ever since I dealt with the idea for the first time five years ago.

In the opera version, I put less emphasis on the political line than Kushner; I rather focus on the passionate relationships, on the highly dramatic suspense of the wonderful text, on the permanently uncertain state of the visions.

The main character of the story, Prior Walter, has aids. Knowing that he has to die and fighting to survive, he invents an angel (in this case a female angel) who tells him to save the world as a prophet.

In his vision he rises to heaven, rejecting the mission in front of the astonished angels with the following words: 'I’ve lived through such terrible times, and there are people who live through much much worse, but... You see them living anyway. When they’re more spirit than body, more sores than skin, when flies lay eggs in the corners of the eyes of their children, they live. If I can find hope anywhere, that’s it, that’s the best I can do. I want more life'. He then lays down the Book Of The Prophets and returns down to earth.

The opera will be sung in English. Due to the very close proximity of the microphones to all singers and the 16 solo instruments, an intense, intimate, almost physical contact is created between the 8 actors and the audience.

(Peter Eötvös)
Auftragswerk : Commande du Théâtre du Châtelet Paris
Kompositionsjahr bis : 2004
Performance duration: 180'0"
Publisher: Schott Music
Subtitle: Opera in two parts
Uraufführung : 23. November 2004 Paris, Théâtre du Châtelet (F) · Dirigent: Peter Eötvös · Assitant Conductor: Alejo Perez · Inszenierung: Philippe Calvario · Kostüme: Jan Morrell · Bühnenbild: Richard Peduzzi · Choreographie: Sophie Tellier (Aufführung der Originalfassung)

29. September 2012 Wrocław, Opera (PL) Contemporary Opera Festival Wrocław 2012 · soloists of Opera Wrocławska · Dirigent: Bassem Akiki · Opera Wrocławska Orchestra (konzertante Uraufführung der revidierten Fassung)
Year of composition: 2003-2004, rev. 2012
instrumentation: 2 (1. auch Altfl., 2. auch Picc. u. Altfl.) · 0 · 2 (2. auch Es-Klar.) · Bassklar. (auch Kb.-Klar.) · 2 Sax. (1.: Sopransax., Altsax., Baritonsax. · 2.: Altsax., Tenorsax.) · 0 - 0 · 1 (auch Picc.-Trp.) · 1 (Tenorpos. mit Quartventil) · 0 - S. (I: Vibr. · Marimba · Crot. · Beck. · chin. Beck. · Nietenbeck. · kl. Tr. · gr. Tr. · Tabla · Cabaça · Styropor-Platten [ad lib.]; II: Glsp. · Gongs · Röhrengl. · Tamt. · Metallröhren · Metall-Guiro · 2 Trgl. · Indische Schellen · Tube Maraca [Chocalho] · kl. Tamb. · gr. Tamborim · Whisper Chimes [Metal Chimes]) (2 Spieler) - Git. (verstärkt, auch Schellenbaum) · E-Git. · Cel. · Hammond-Org. (B3 mit Lesley-Box) - Str. (6 · 0 · 4 · 3 · 2)

Im Aufführungsmaterial sind diverse Klänge und Geräusche auf einer Zuspiel-CD enthalten. / A CD containing various sounds and noises is part of the hire material.
occupation: The Angel · Sopran - Harper Pitt (Joes Ehefrau) · Sopran (mit großem Stimmumfang) - Hannah Pitt (Joes Mutter) · Mezzosopran (mit großem Stimmumfang) - Joseph Pitt (Harpers Ehemann) · Bariton - Prior Walter (Louis' Freund) · lyrischer Bariton - Louis Ironson (Priors Freund) · Tenor - Belize (schwarze Krankenschwester) · Countertenor (Mezzosopran) - Roy Cohn (Rechtsanwalt) · Bass-Bariton -
Weitere Personen: Rabbi Chemelwitz, ein orthodoxer jüdischer Rabbi, gespielt von Hannah - Mr Lies, ein Reiseveranstalter, gespielt von Belize - Henry, Roys Arzt, gespielt von Hannah - Frau in der South Bronx, gespielt von Belize - Ghost 1, ein Geist des toten Prior Walter aus dem 13. Jahrhundert, gespielt von Roy - Ghost 2, ein Geist des toten Prior Walter aus dem 18. Jahrhundert, gespielt von Joe - Ethel Rosenberg, gespielt von Harper - Voice, gespielt von The Angel - Angel Antarctica, gespielt von Harper - Angel Asiatica, gespielt von Hannah - Angel Africanii, gespielt von Belize - Angel Oceania, gespielt von Louis - Angel Europe, gespielt von Joe - Angel Australia, gespielt von Roy -
Alle Sänger (im Graben wie auch auf der Bühne) werden elektronisch verstärkt. -
Im Orchestergraben: 3 Vokalisten (S, A, Bar) · 1 Tonmeister
Conductor: Golo Berg
2018-03-29 | Münster (Germany), Theater, großes Haus — 19:30
Conductor: Golo Berg
2018-03-23 | Münster (Germany), Theater, großes Haus — 19:30
Conductor: Golo Berg
2018-03-21 | Münster (Germany), Theater, großes Haus — 19:30
Conductor: Golo Berg
2018-03-16 | Münster (Germany), Theater, großes Haus — 19:30
Conductor: Golo Berg
2018-03-10 | Münster (Germany), Theater, großes Haus — 19:30
Conductor: Golo Berg
2018-02-27 | Münster (Germany), Theater, großes Haus — 19:30
Conductor: Golo Berg
2018-02-24 | Münster (Germany), Theater, großes Haus — 19:30
Conductor: Pacien Mazzagatti
2017-06-16 | New York, NY (United States of America), Lincoln Center, Rose Theater
Conductor: Pacien Mazzagatti
2017-06-14 | New York, NY (United States of America), Lincoln Center, Rose Theater
Conductor: Pacien Mazzagatti
2017-06-12 | New York, NY (United States of America), Lincoln Center, Rose Theater
Conductor: Pacien Mazzagatti
2017-06-10 | New York, NY (United States of America), Lincoln Center, Rose Theater
Conductor: William Lumpkin
2015-02-22 | Boston, MA (United States of America), University Theater, Mainstage — 14:00
Conductor: William Lumpkin
2015-02-21 | Boston, MA (United States of America), University Theater, Mainstage — 19:30
Conductor: William Lumpkin
2015-02-20 | Boston, MA (United States of America), University Theater, Mainstage — 19:30
Conductor: William Lumpkin
2015-02-19 | Boston, MA (United States of America), University Theater, Mainstage — 19:30
Conductor: Peter Eötvös, Oct 3; Christian Schumann, Oct 4
Orchestra: Opera Wrocławska Orchestra
2014-10-04 | Wrocław (Poland), Opera — 19:00
Conductor: Peter Eötvös, Oct 3; Christian Schumann, Oct 4
Orchestra: Opera Wrocławska Orchestra
2014-10-03 | Wrocław (Poland), Opera — 19:00
Conductor: Pablo Heras-Casado
Orchestra: Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group
2013-01-15 | Los Angeles, CA (United States of America), Walt Disney Concert Hall — Green Umbrella
Conductor: Bassem Akiki
Orchestra: Opera Wrocławska Orchestra
2012-09-29 | Wrocław (Poland), Opera
Conductor: David Robertson
Orchestra: BBC Symphony Orchestra
2010-03-26 | London (United Kingdom), Barbican Hall
Conductor: Erik Nielsen
2009-04-03 | Frankfurt/Main (Germany), Bockenheimer Depot — 19.30 Uhr
Conductor: Erik Nielsen
2009-04-01 | Frankfurt/Main (Germany), Bockenheimer Depot — 19.30 Uhr
Conductor: Erik Nielsen
2009-03-29 | Frankfurt/Main (Germany), Bockenheimer Depot — 19.30 Uhr
Conductor: Erik Nielsen
2009-03-27 | Frankfurt/Main (Germany), Bockenheimer Depot — 19.30 Uhr
Conductor: Erik Nielsen
2009-03-25 | Frankfurt/Main (Germany), Bockenheimer Depot — 19.30 Uhr
Conductor: Erik Nielsen
2009-03-23 | Frankfurt/Main (Germany), Bockenheimer Depot — 19.00 Uhr
Conductor: Erik Nielsen
2009-03-21 | Frankfurt/Main (Germany), Bockenheimer Depot — 19.30 Uhr
Conductor: Christopher Larkin
2008-06-07 | Forth Worth, TX (United States of America), Scott Theatre — 14.00 h
Conductor: Christopher Larkin
2008-06-04 | Forth Worth, TX (United States of America), Scott Theatre — 20.00 h
Conductor: Christopher Larkin
2008-05-31 | Forth Worth, TX (United States of America), Scott Theatre — 14.00 h
Conductor: Christopher Larkin
2008-05-28 | Forth Worth, TX (United States of America), Scott Theatre — 20.00 h
Conductor: Christopher Larkin
2008-05-24 | Forth Worth, TX (United States of America), Scott Theatre — 20.00 h
Conductor: Christopher Larkin
2008-05-18 | Forth Worth, TX (United States of America), Scott Theatre — 14.00 h
Conductor: Christopher Larkin
2008-05-16 | Forth Worth, TX (United States of America), Scott Theatre — 20.00 h
Conductor: Gil Rose
2006-06-24 | Boston, MA (United States of America), Boston Center for the Arts, Opera Unlimited Boston - Wimberly Theatre in the Calderwood Pavilion
Conductor: Gil Rose
2006-06-20 | Boston, MA (United States of America), Boston Center for the Arts, Opera Unlimited Boston - Wimberly Theatre in the Calderwood Pavilion
Conductor: Peter Eötvös; Assitant Conductor: Alejo Perez
Orchestra: Radio Kamer Filharmonie
2006-06-17 | Amsterdam (Netherlands), Muziekgebouw aan \'t IJ — 20.00 h
Conductor: Gil Rose
2006-06-17 | Boston, MA (United States of America), Boston Center for the Arts, Opera Unlimited Boston - Wimberly Theatre in the Calderwood Pavilion
Conductor: Gil Rose
2006-06-16 | Boston, MA (United States of America), Boston Center for the Arts, Opera Unlimited Boston - Wimberly Theatre in the Calderwood Pavilion
Conductor: Peter Eötvös; Assitant Conductor: Alejo Perez
Orchestra: Radio Kamer Filharmonie
2006-06-15 | Amsterdam (Netherlands), Muziekgebouw aan \'t IJ — 20.00 h
Conductor: Cornelius Meister; Ko-Dirigent: Alexander Winterson
2005-07-02 | Hamburg (Germany), Hamburgische Staatsoper, Probebühne 1 — 20.00 Uhr
Conductor: Cornelius Meister; Ko-Dirigent: Alexander Winterson
2005-06-30 | Hamburg (Germany), Hamburgische Staatsoper, Probebühne 1 — 20.00 Uhr
Conductor: Cornelius Meister; Ko-Dirigent: Alexander Winterson
2005-06-28 | Hamburg (Germany), Hamburgische Staatsoper, Probebühne 1 — 20.00 Uhr
Conductor: Cornelius Meister; Ko-Dirigent: Alexander Winterson
2005-06-26 | Hamburg (Germany), Hamburgische Staatsoper, Probebühne 1 — 20.00 Uhr
Conductor: Cornelius Meister; Ko-Dirigent: Alexander Winterson
2005-06-23 | Hamburg (Germany), Hamburgische Staatsoper, Probebühne 1 — 20.00 Uhr
Conductor: Peter Eötvös · Assitant Conductor: Alejo Perez
2004-11-29 | Paris (France), Théâtre du Châtelet — 19.30 h
Conductor: Peter Eötvös · Assitant Conductor: Alejo Perez
2004-11-28 | Paris (France), Théâtre du Châtelet — 16.00 h
Conductor: Peter Eötvös · Assitant Conductor: Alejo Perez
2004-11-26 | Paris (France), Théâtre du Châtelet — 19.30 h
Conductor: Peter Eötvös · Assitant Conductor: Alejo Perez
2004-11-23 | Paris (France), Théâtre du Châtelet — 19.30 h