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Wolfgang Rihm: Oedipus / Andreas Schmidt, William Pell, William Dooley, William Murray. Christof Prick [DVD]

Album Summary

>Rihm, Wolfgang : Oedipus, opera
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

As one of the most versatile and best-known contemporary composers in Germany, Wofgang Rihm has always impressed and shocked with the powerful expressiveness of his music. His Oedipus, here in its 1987 premiere performance, loses none of its impact over the years. Of particular interest is the early career performance of baritone Andreas Schmidt in the title role.

Notes & Reviews:

Run Time: 105 min.
Region: 0
Picture Format: NTSC, 4:3, Color
Sound Format(s): PCM Stereo,
Subtitles: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish


Very interesting but not for everyone
This is a video release of the 1987 world premiere of German composer Wolfgang Rihm's opera "Oedipus". This release is also one of a series of new, important releases from the Berlin Opera on the always relevant Art Haus Musik label. I have only been somewhat aware of Wolfgang Rihm, who was part of a "new wave" of young composers in Germany in the late 1970s and beyond. The story is of course the fairly well known Greek tragedy of the young warrior who strives to be king after successfully passing the riddle posed by the oracle at Delphi. Later we know that the Oedipus had unknowingly killed his real father, marries his actual mother and is brought down by the jealous Creon. Oedipus blinds himself and is doomed to wander as a blind, powerless beggar. Other opera treatments of the Oedipus legend throughout the years have included somewhat successful treatments by, most notably, Stravinsky, Enescu, Purcell and as "Greek" by Mark-Anthony Turnage. While none of these is especially well known, the best known is the Stravinsky and - for me - Turnage's represents a very solid contemporary effort. Part of the problem is the story which does not lend itself to long narrative and the surprise plot twists are not approached gradually; Greek tragedy was largely moralistic. Wolfgang Rihm is a talented composer who, by now, has written many works including other stage works; mostly in European venues. (One of his finer recent works is a Violin Concerto written for Anne-Sophie Mutter) While his music - especially at the time of Oedipus - was a kind of "anti-avant garde" it is still angular, non-diatomic and very difficult to perform. The staging of this Oedipus, too, with the libretto by the composer is creative but somewhat minimal. This performance, under the direction of Christof Prick is excellent and the video transfer is high quality. This is a work to be curious about and to admire for the craft. I cannot honestly say this is one of my favorite twentieth century works (or beyond) In large part, it is still a hard work to get behind although it is fairly straight forward to follow. I found it revealing, I suppose, that the audience reaction at the end of this live video was quite mixed. There are clearly audible "boo"s as well as some enthusiastic "bravos" I am somewhat mixed in my thoughts about the piece but I have heard or seen live hundreds of operas including the "modern" ones. Most viewers will enthusiastically embrace this work for the craft and creativity involved - or not.
Submitted on 02/11/13 by Dan Coombs 
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Works Details

>Rihm, Wolfgang : Oedipus, opera
  • Performers: William Dooley; Emily Golden; William Murray; William Pell; Andreas Schmidt
  • Conductor: Christof Prick
  • Ensemble: Deutsche Opera Berlin
  • Running Time: 105 min. sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Studio/Live: Live