Stockhausen's Donnerstag aus Licht
Opera for 16 solo performers, orchestra, choir and electronic music
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Donnerstag (Thursday) was the first completed work of the gigantic seven-opera cycle Licht (Light) by German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928 - 2007). Composed over a span of 25 years and lasting nearly 30 hours in total, the cycle offers up a wide-ranging, experimental take on theology, time, and the nature of the universe. In Donnerstag, the protagonist Michael (a composite of the archangel Michael and of the composer himself) comes to life in three different guises, played by a singer, a dancer, and a trumpeter as he passes from an impoverished childhood to an artistically successful adulthood and, finally, to the celestial realm as an archangel.
The prominence of new technologies in Donnerstag reflects the vision of the total spectacle that inheres in most of the work of Stockhausen, who wanted to make music available to see—a goal to which Le Balcon is particularly well suited with their assured use of video mapping, real-time streaming, 3D sound restoration… Exploring time, filling space, implicating interpreters as well as the audience, Stockhausen made Donnerstag an epic adventure for the senses and the mind, with a remarkable attention to detail and a striking narrative complexity.