Meister und Margarita, Der(ii) (‘The Master and Margarita’)
- Andrew Clements
(‘The Master and Margarita’)
Opera in two acts by York Höller to a libretto by the composer after Mikhail Afanas’yevich Bulgakov ’s novel; Paris, Opéra, 20 May 1989.
Commissioned by the Paris Opéra and the Hamburg Staatsoper, Höller’s operatic version of Bulgakov’s surreal allegory of Stalinism, in which the Devil and his retinue wreak havoc in 1930s Moscow, filters out the main narrative strands of the teeming novel while preserving its most spectacularly ‘operatic’ episodes. Woland (baritone), accompanied by the giant cat Behemoth (mezzo-soprano), bring disaster to everyone who crosses their path, and only the Master (baritone), a writer, and his lover Margarita (soprano) can survive the exploitation of their basest instincts. The Master has been incarcerated in a psychiatric hospital for writing a novel about Pontius Pilate in which he has explored the relationship between power and responsibility, and scenes from this retelling of the Crucifixion story are interspersed with the main narrative....