AMOPERA Klangforum Wien Meta-Oper

A project by
Needcompany & Klangforum Wien, Jan Lauwers, Grace Ellen Barkey, Maarten Seghers, Sarah Maria Sun, Holger Falk, Bas Wiegers, Sophie Schafleitner, Christoph Walder, Elke Janssens, Emily Hehl, Paul Blackman, Tim Anderson, Pauli Jämsä etc.


On 5 November 2022,  Klangforum Wien together with the Belgian Needcompany held the premiere of its first meta-opera at the Festspielhaus Erl in Tyrol: the audience was taken on a journey through the last 100 years of opera history  — drawn from the fund of over 90 operas. “AMOPERA” stands for relationships, contrasts, hopelessness, and ecstasies, which make up the glowing and at the same time forbidding realm of love.

Inspired by Peter von Matt’s book “Betrayed Love” (Liebesverrat), which maps out a literary history from the perspective of infidelity, deception and disappointment, Klangforum Wien has developed a new perspective, a meta-opera, which takes the form of a journey through time, through all that’s new in music and opera. By way of montage, adaptation and concentration, excerpts from various works were interlinked in order to re-activate their artistic potential on a new level. From the last scene from Lulu by Alban Berg to “Ach, ich fühl’s” by Bernhard Lang, the range extends all the way to “A respirar ritorno” from Luci mie traditrici by Salvatore Sciarrino – covering the most recent opera history.

AMOPERA is the result of an intensive encounter between Klangforum Wien and the Belgian Needcompany with its protagonists Grace Ellen Barkey, Maarten Seghers and Jan Lauwers. Together with baritone Holger Falk and soprano Sarah Maria Sun, the artists set out on a search between confrontation and symbiosis in an attempt to portray the impossibility and the tragedy of love between two human beings. The musicians of Klangforum Wien are deployed in a dramatic and performative capacity which takes them way beyond their usual interpretative role.

Founded in Brussels in 1986 by Jan Lauwers and Grace Ellen Barkey as an international collective, the Needcompany, with its landmark productions, has caused a stir worldwide ever since. In 2001, Maarten Seghers joined the group which works with a multidisciplinary approach in the fields of theatre, dance, performance, art, film and literature. In 2018, the Salzburg Festival presentedL’Incoronazione di Poppea, Jan Lauwer’s first opera production (which was revived at the Vienna State Opera in 2021), followed by the superb production of Luigi Nono’s Intolleranza 1960 at the Felsenreitschule in 2021.

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Music by
Luciano Berio | Sir Harrison Birtwistle | Alexander Zemlinsky | Alban Berg / E. Kloke | Benjamin Britten | Peter Maxwell Davies | Iannis Xenakis | Salvatore Sciarrino | Bernhard Lang | Beat Furrer | Rebecca Saunders | Michael Wertmüller | Sara Glojnarić

“What Klangforum Wien and Needcompany have in common is their investigation of the twentieth century as a time of deconstruction, excessive speed and excess in general. We do not pretend to be parsing the archive of modern and contemporary music, but do demand the right to interact for a while without shame.“

– Jan Lauwers

“The Meta-Opera is based on the profound connectivity at work in the creative process, which transcends the efforts of an individual composer. The autonomy, on the one hand, and the inviolability of a self-contained work of art on the other, remain uncontested – nonetheless it is possible for wholly unexpected new perspectives to emerge, if, proceeding from the momentum of one particular opera, we transcend its storyline in search of points of contact that can be found in quite a different work. We conduct our search by listening, from an inner perspective, in order to fathom the profound meaning of a musical message – not simply by adopting the point of view of a particular composer, but by framing the whole to form a single, large-scale picture, which is the result of the effort of many participants, who speak many different languages, and adopt many different attitudes – in short: a meta- opera. Colourful, entertaining and profound, it represents a history of operatic literature characterized by novelty and flagrance – and it is full of surprises.”

– Peter Paul Kainrath

Photos: Valerie Maltseva



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