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date: 09 July 2020

Sonntag aus Licht (‘Sunday from Light’)locked

  • Richard Toop

Extract

(‘Sunday from Light’)

Opera in five scenes with a farewell by Karlheinz Stockhausen to his own libretto. As yet unstaged as a whole, but all individual parts have been given semi-staged performances:

Both the concluding part of the Licht cycle, and the seventh and last opera to be composed, Sonntag is, like its chronological predecessor Mittwoch, a work that tests the conceptual boundaries of the operatic genre. Nevertheless, it is very clearly ceremonial music theatre; Wagner’s designation of Parsifal as a Bühnenweihfestspiel – stage dedication festival-play – seems even more apt for Sonntag, which Stockhausen describes as ‘the music for the mystical union of Michael and Eve’. Although, as in Mittwoch, the main protagonists of the whole cycle (Eve, Michael and Lucifer) are never literally present, at least Michael and Eve are strong ‘virtual presences’. For example, of the four principal performers in ‘Light Pictures’ (Scene 3), the tenor and trumpet clearly embody Michael, and the flute and basset-horn embody Eve. Moreover, all five scenes have a strong vocal element, and while this might seem to be self-evident in opera, in many scenes and acts from earlier parts of the cycle (most notably in ...

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