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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Seven-Part German Opera to Replace New Ring

Not a scene from Licht.

The Metropolitan Opera plans to replace Robert Lepage's already controversial new staging of Wagner's Ring Cycle with an even bigger work--the first North American stagings of Karlheinz Stockhausen's seven-part opera Licht. "Budget considerations" were listed as the official reason for the change.

Consisting of seven works (one for each day of the week), Licht ("Light") details the eternal conflict between the Archangel Michael, the Devil (represented as Lucifer) and Eve, the eternal woman.

Stockhausen's complcated score requires seven days to perform. The operas demand an incredible amount of resources, multiple orchestras and ensembles, electronic effects and tape loops. Mittwoch Aus Licht features a Helicopter Quartet for stringed instruments, pilots, and four helicopters hovering in mid-air. There's also singing.

To finance Licht and the necessary renovations of the opera house (including the removal of the roof, the golden ceiling and the Swarovski chandeliers) the Met has announced the founding of the "Raise the Roof" Fund, underwritten by Lehmann Brothers and Bear Stearns. Following the performances of Licht the Met will be fitted with an "umbrella style" retractable roof designed by the same firm who built the new baseball stadium for the Montréal Expos.

Asked about the potential problems of having four helicopters hovering over the Met's audience with the roof removed, director Bidrum Vabish commented: "Well we hope it won't rain that week."

Orchestral rehearsals for Licht are scheduled for Feb. 30, 2011, with the first performances on April 1st, 2012.

Footage of the "Helicopter Quartet" from Licht.

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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.