The 2019 Romanian premiere of Moses und Aron by Arnold Schoenberg – A musical manifesto on the opposition between thought and action, at #EnescuOnline
Between May 8 and 10, the Enescu Festival Online presents Moses und Aron, the opera in concert performance which brought the George Enescu Festival its first International Opera Awards nomination, in 2020.
One of the masterpieces of 20th-century opera, Moses und Aron by Arnold Schoenberg premiered in Romania at the 2019 George Enescu International Festival, performed by the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir conducted by Lothar Zagrosek, and Vocalconsort Berlin with Iosif Ion Prunner as chorus master. The production featured a stellar lineup of internationally acclaimed artists, with Robert Hayward (Moses) and John Daszak (Aron) as cast headliners. The opera was staged with multimedia projections created by Nona Ciobanu and Peter Košir, which outlined with visual subtlety the powerful narrative.
Moses und Aron, an unfinished opera, is the last and most imposing lyric work composed by Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951), for which the musician wrote the libretto himself. A biblical drama written as a dodecaphonic opera that calls into question the classical tonal language, the piece is so complex and audacious that it presents a major challenge for artists in staging and performing it. Moses und Aron has became known for its insistence on questioning existence itself, as its two Biblical characters, Moses and his brother Aaron, symbolize the opposition between Thought and Action in a period dominated by the political upheaval that ended in Nazi savagery (Schoenberg wrote the first two acts in 1930-1932).
“In the visual scenario created together with the architect and visual artist Peter Košir, we started from the conflict between thought and word, idea and its representation, between transcendence and immanence. The image, together with its interpretation, can become an instrument of manipulation in politics and religion”, says Nona Ciobanu.
The cast listed Robert Hayward – Moses (speaker), John Daszak – Aron (tenor), Julia Sporsén – young girl (soprano), Michael Pflumm – young boy (tenor), Catherine Wyn-Rogers – sick woman (alto), Christian Rieger – man (baritone), Gabriel Rollinson – Ephraimite (bass), Ralf Lukas – priest (bass), Polina Pasztircsák – second naked virgin (soprano), Anna Nedorezova – third naked virgin (alto).
Moses und Aron received its first staged Romanian production at the 2019 George Enescu International Festival with a remarkable performance, which, demanding as it was for the audience, did this Schoenberg masterpiece full justice.
photo credit: Andrada Pavel