Three women sing at their outer limits, each of them alone on stage with her demons and her angels. None of them has a name; they have left all that behind. They exist in worlds apart, each of those worlds the creation of a major musical innovator. Soprano Cyndia Sieden returns to City Opera, with Kara Shay Thomson in her company debut in the new production, directed by Robin Guarino in her City Opera debut, with George Manahan conducting all three works.
La Machine de l'être
Carrying the pioneering spirit of Arnold Schoenberg and Morton Feldman into the present day, prolific New York composer John Zorn created La Machine de l'être, in which the soprano's hair-raising trajectory is inspired by the drawings of the visionary theater artist Antonin Artaud. Heard in 2007 at City Opera's VOX, this wordless monodrama now receives its world stage premiere.
In Arnold Schoenberg's ground-breaking Erwartung (or Expectation), a terrified woman gropes through a dark forest searching for her lover, only to find that the darkness dwells within her. Written in Vienna in 1909 and premiered in 1924, the work now has its New York City Opera premiere. This quintessential Modernist opera uses fragmented text and atonal musical language to explore perception and the unconscious, registering the shockwaves of fear and the great arcs of desire. The libretto was written by the young doctor Marie Pappenheim, who was likely related to Anna O., subject of one of Freud's famous case studies. Erwartung will be performed in German with English supertitles.
A 1976 meeting between American composer Morton Feldman and playwright Samuel Beckett yielded Neither, a stream-of-consciousness monodrama that investigates altered states of mind and awareness. In Beckett's only libretto--just eighty-seven words, hovering in a troubled stillness--the protagonist is seeking not her lover but herself, as she moves with the ethereal music through landscapes of memory. Feldman's haunting, glacial composition challenges the highest extremes of the soprano range, evoking hypnotic visions and creating an unsettling sense of time and place. This unique work had its premiere in 1977 at the Rome Opera and will receive its first U.S. staging with orchestra at City Opera. Neither will be performed in English with supertitles.
Visit the Monodramas: La Machine de l'être, Erwartung, and Neither website: