Henze: Phaedra

Henze: Phaedra
Phaedra: the daughter of Minos and the wife of Theseus. Fell in love with her stepson Hippolytus, Theseus’ son by Amazonian queen Hippolyte—thus setting in motion a chain of events marked for betrayal, guilt and death.

This ancient Greek tale is the setting of Hans Werner Henze’s new opera, which premieres on 6 September at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden Berlin with stage direction by Peter Mussbach. Featuring a libretto by Christian Lehnert and set design by Olafur Eliasson, the two-act work receives four performances during the Musikfest Berlin. Michael Boder conducts the Ensemble Modern; and mezzo-soprano Madgalena Kozená stars in the title role.

Lehnert’s libretto stretches far beyond the myth’s traditional catastrophe. Act I retells the story as recounted by Euripides, Racine and Sarah Kane. Act II draws from the tale as told by the Roman poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses—mortally wounded characters return. Hippolytus is “reconstructed” by Artemis and reawakens as Virbius, while Phaedra reappears. Henze and Lehnert have created a work in which the relationship between humans and gods are newly defined.

Phaedra is a co-commission and co-production with the Berliner Festspiele, Théâtre de la Monnaie Brussels, Alte Oper Frankfurt and Wiener Festwochen. A week after the premiere, the production tours to Brussels for its Belgian premiere and sets the stage for a tour to Vienna in May. In June 2008, Phaedre travels to Frankfurt in a version of this production adapted for the concert hall stage.

Phaedra   1 hr, 20 min
Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Countertenor, Tenor; 2 Actors
2(pic.afl).2(ca).2(asax, bcl).2(cbn)/2(2Wtba).2.2.0/2perc/hp.clv.pn/str