Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Salzburg Endgame: nothing on the horizon?

Confirming Alexander Pereira’s fear, expressed in an interview last July, that Salzburg’s operatic commissions might not be ready in time, comes the news (via Intermezzo) that at next year’s festival Birtwistle’s Gawain will take the place of a Kurtág work based on Beckett’s Endgame.

Assuming a Covent Garden import unlikely, a new production of Birtwistle’s 1991 opera is no cause for complaint, quite the contrary. But maybe we can dare to hope that the Endgame commission has been merely delayed, given Kurtág’s decades-long interest in Beckett and stylistic and structural parallels which have received much scholarly attention (no Youtube of op. 30b or 36, alas). Of Pereira’s commissions, this one was by far the most significant.


  1. Let us hope that we shall eventually have both. The prospect of Gawain next summer is very exciting indeed. Am I right in thinking that the Covent Garden production is the only one it has received? When one thinks that The Tempest, for instance, is already on at least its third staging, even heading for Vienna (!), that is clearly something that needs putting right. But then one could say the same about The Mask of Orpheus, The Second Mrs King, etc. It is all quite bewildering, given the huge amount of interest in the music of surely the greatest English composer since Purcell... I'm sure all but the most partisan would rather forego the Salzburg Adès composition rather than an opera by Kurtág, least of all a Kurtág version of Endgame.

  2. I think you're right about Gawain; The Second Mrs Kong got its second production at the Wiener Festwochen at a time when Birtwistle believed the Glyndebourne production couldn't be bettered (though he didn't criticize the Viennese effort). That came after the 1991 Schwerpunkt at Wien Modern when Birtwistle himself (!) directed Punch and Judy, amid thorough programming elsewhere, more so than what the Schwerpunkt concept offers now. Since then Viennese interest has remained fairly high on the level of Wien Modern, Festwochen, Neue Oper Wien, Kammeroper etc. A NOW Last Supper was just before my time, though I saw The Io Passion at the Kammeroper a couple of seasons ago, which remains one of the most memorable experiences of my opera-going time here. There was some talk after this production that the Theater an der Wien would put on The Minotaur, though for me the most underperformed of the stage works is The Mask of Orpheus. But overall not too surprising, I find, that Birtwistle has travelled almost as well as Britten.

  3. I'd travel to Siberia for a production of "The Second Mrs. Kong", it's one of my very favorite operas. I love the music and Russell Hoban's libretto is brilliant.

    I remember.......