Dienstag aus Licht

Opéra

Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007)
Dienstag aus Licht (1977-1991)

opéra en un salut, deux actes et un adieu, pour dix-sept acteurs musiciens (trois voix et dix instruments solistes, quatre danseurs mimes), acteurs, mimes, chœur, orchestre et bande
[Mardi de Lumière]

nouvelle production Le Balcon, Philharmonie de Paris
date prévisionnelle juin 2022
durée approximative : 2h30

Dienstag aus Licht – Mardi de Lumière -, est le quatrième des sept opéras du compositeur Karlheinz Stockhausen réunis sous le titre Licht. Il est centré sur le conflit entre les personnages de Michael et Lucifer, deux des trois archétypes du cycle, avec Eva.

***

Dienstag aus Licht – Tuesday from Light – is the fourth of the seven operas written by Karlheinz Stockhausen, assembled under the name LICHT. It is centered on the conflict between Michael and Lucifer, two of the three archetypes of the cycle, with Eve.

Salut du Mardi | Tuesday’s Greeting – 20mn

Bande : Soprano solo, 9 trompettes, 9 trombones, 2 synthétiseurs, chœur, chef d’orchestre et co-chef d’orchestre, sonorisateur | Tape : Solo soprano, 9 trumpets, 9 trombones, 2 synthesizers, choir, conductor and co-conductor, sound projectionist

Acte 1 : La course des ans | Course of the years – 55mn

  • Ténor, Basse | Tenor, Bass
  • 4  danseurs-mimes| 4 dancer-mimes
  • 1 acteur-chanteur | 1 actor-singer
  • 3 mimes  | 3 mimes
  • 1 petite fille | 1 little girl
  • 1 jolie femme | 1 beautiful woman
  • 1 orchestre moderne |1 modern orchestra
  • 1 sonorisateur | 1 sound projectionnist
  • Bande | Tape

Acte II | Invasion – Explosion avec Adieu| Invasion – Explosion with Farewell – 1h23

  • Solo soprano, ténor et basse | Solo soprano, tenor, bass
  • 3 trompettes | 3 trumpets
  • 3 trombones | 3 trombones
  • 2 synthétiseurs | 2 synthesizer players
  • 2 percussionnistes | 2 percussionists
  • 6 trompettes | 6 trumpets
  • 6 trombones | 6 trombones
  • Sonorisateur | Sound projectionnist
  • Bande | Tape

Création mondiale | Premiere of the opera
28 mai 1993, Allemagne, Liepzig, Opéra.

Création Le Balcon/Philharmonie de Paris | Premiere of our version
Juin | June 2022

Durée totale | Total duration
4h50mn

INVASION — EXPLOSION with FAREWELL

The stage is closed by a rocky precipice, the two halves of which have moved in front of the Proscenium arch from the sides before INVASION begins. The precipice is grown over with lianas, moss, shrubs, bushes. At its front is a rocky ledge (about 1.8 m high and circa 3 m deep, which slopes slightly upwards to the lace of the precipice, and downwards at both sides to the ground).

First air-defence

The sky is slightly overcast. Night falls. High up from the rear. darkly vibrating  music approaches, which is soon joined by vibrating, flashingly bright music. 

In a few of the crevices, searchlights light up one after another. shine into the sky and slowly scan the heavens. As the flight-music very slowly approaches the precipice, a small, silver aeroplane is suddenly picked up by the ray of one of the searchlights. A sound – missile bangs out of the precipice, emitting a tracer path of light, and strikes the aeroplane which screams off and, with a long glissando, crashes onto the rock ledge four octaves below.

Sound-bombs explode at regular intervals.

The searchlights become more active, the multi-note chord of flight squadron whirs at high altitude in a fourth-glissando which slowly glides downwards.

More tone rockets – in changing timbres – shoot out of the precipice towards the airborne targets :

Barely recognizable in the precipice are numerous cannon muzzles shaped like huge trumpet bells. In the sky, a gradually increasing number of silver aeroplanes in formation becomes audible as they fly towards the precipice and away over it.

During a salvo of anti-aircraft missiles, the next aircraft is hit and spins downwards in bizarre curves, onto the rock ledge.

The following volley brings a third flying object crashing down. also onto the rock ledge.

Suddenly. at the half-right, the precipice opens. Something unrecognizable, holding a flashlight, emerges out of the opening and slinks to the downed flying object. In slow-motion — with two fingers — it pulls out a silvery miniature human body, which is twisting like a snake, then holds the body up in the light of the searchlights before taking it into the precipice, which quickly closes.

First invasion

In the meantime, the detonations of the sound bombs have begun anew: Far away at the left, signals can be heard: melody-shreds played by trumpets, trombones, strange instruments and voices. They gradually approach.

The musiflak again goes into action, shooting down a flying machine.

From the left, fighting troops invade the hall. Trombonasts with synthesizerast and percussionast, led by a bass-commander – all in black-red modern battle dress – are pursued in close combat by trumpetists, synthesizerists and percussionnist, commanded by a tenorist-officer all wearing light blue-red, modern uniforms.

    As the whirring frequency looping of the aircraft clusters of bass bombing, musiflak artillery firing, and the screaming of shot-down flight sounds constantly becomes denser, the troops struggle back and forth through the auditorium. Several combatants of the Lucifer-troop climb onto the rock ledge and up part of the precipice, and in several attempts cut off lianias, shrubs, and bushes which crash down revealing themselves as a camouflage net. With a few detonations, the whole precipice is blasted open as, as it falls apart in several sections, a chrome bunker wall behind it is revealed, barely discernible as it reflects the searchlights and the musiflak firings. IT has irregular protusions, golden trumpet bells projecting from it, and a wide plinth at its base.

The combat gradually moves to the right, leaves the auditorium. and fades away in the distance. The bass detonations cease. The musiflak is silent. The dull rumbling of the flight squadrons subsides. All that remains is the whirring chord of flying objects at high altitude and the slow tracing of the searchlights in the sky. A calm, melancholic fragment of the Eve-melody engulfs the space:

Second air-defence

One of the searchlights fishes a silver aeroplane in the sky. A hissing shot whizzes out of the chrome wall and strikes. The silver fish spins downwards and upwards several times, as the rumbling again begins softly. As it approaches, a young voice from outer space hoarsely counts in a long, drawn-out way.

Second invasion

From far away at the right comes the toning of strangely alienated trumpets, trombones, calls, mixed with unknown sound-shreds. An E-flat shell races up into the sky and strikes a high flying object which is instantly fixed by several searchlights and followed until just before it crashes at the bunker wall.

Tone-rockets burst. The searchlights become nervous. From the right side, fighting troops approach and break into the auditorium. A MICHAEL-troop – wearing bluish chrome uniforms – is forced back in sharp attacks by the lucifer-fighters in shimmering black chrome armament.

The musiflak bangs away like mad and – in rapid succession – shoots down eight aircraft which go down in front of the bunker wall – as in all previous downings. To this, the bright voice blood-curdlingly tones from the heavens, with twisted names and key words of the fight.

A harsh man’s voice continues, resounding from the earth and the four winds.

Since the call « Lu-zi » of the clear voice following the last crash of a flying object, the struggle has become extremely bitter and is concentrated at the plinth of the bunker. A few members of the Lucifer-troop climb up the bunker, their feet magnetically attracted and sticking to the chrome wall. Despite desperate resistance by the Michael-troop, they instantaneously cut the wall to pieces using light-ray welders. One after another the pieces fall and – as if by magic forces – are transported to the sides. Behind the fallen chrome plates, a wall of rock-crystal glittering incredibly – becomes visible.

Casualty

A piercing scream tears through the turmoil, and the sound cannons abruptly cease. All musicombatants of the Lucifer-troop retrat to the right side of the bunker, those of the Michael-troop to the left side. On the socket of the bunker, a trimpetist is lying, heavily wounded.

A white flag is extended from one of the trumpet bells of the crystal wall. Shortly afterwards, the wall opens. A red cross nurse of glass emerges, accompanied by two other glass beings. All those standing around freeze. The woman looks towards the trumpetist, her two escorts carry him to her. His hand is tightly holding his flugelhorn. She sits down on a protuding crystal. The trumpeter is laid across her lap, she supports his head, and inclines her head towards him.

Then, his body, standing upright and holding the flugelhorn, appears raised behind the woman, looking down at her. Out of this second body, grows a third ethereal transparent form of his body, also with flugelhorn, until it is standing around and above him – a huge magnification of his human form.

All those watching silently withdraw and disappear, the Lucifer-troop to the right, the Michel-troop to the left. The woman’s two escorts can also no longer be seen.

Pietà

The trumpeter plays a flugelhorn solo. All movements of his etheric body are identical to this of his human body. the woman soon joins in, singing. the two of them play and sing a moving duet in which it is revealed that, in the wounded flugelhorn player, Michael has become visible, and that, in the consoling nurse, Eve has become visible.

These are the words sung by the soprano :

« Michael-trumpeter has been hit in the heart, wounded. Lucifer’s trombone invasions ».

Third Invasion

Cracking, a C-sharp rocket rushes out from a trimpet bell of the crystal wall into the sky. A flight-sound-plane is hit, and screams away.

The woman is startled. The body standing behind her and its ethereal form dissolve. In a flash, the two escorts appear, remove the trumpeter from her lap, and carry him into the bunker. She follows. the crystal wall closes.

Searchlights shine out of the trumpet bells, scan the heavens.

At the rear, banging, whistling, trilling, fluttering, shouting, tremoloing, glissing troops break into the auditorium storm round each other in close combat. A Lucifer assault party – in black-silver shimmering crystal bodies – pursues a group of Michael musicombatants – wearing light blue glittering crystal suits – towards the bunker.

Explosion

In rapid succession, tone rockets shoot out of the crystal wall up into the sky, emitting light traces in all colours. One flying machine after another is hit, squabbles away. Several are downed everything is a shudderingly beautiful sonorisarium.

The fighters have reached the crystal bunker. A few of the Lucifer-hunters climb like cats up over the crystal posts, drill into them here and there with steaming blowtorches, leap down in wide arches. As the eleventh anti-aircraft missile is fired, a vehement detonation breaks off a large upper sections of the crystal wall. A dust sound-cloud of an infinite number of tone-splinter conceals the background, and a mad sound-bomber curves through the firmament.

After the following four firings of the musiflak, a second, even larger explosion destroys the left section of the crystal wall. Scintillating light streams through a fog of glassy snow.

An unusually complicated flying object howls into the depths.

A third, gigantic explosion finally rips the remaining right section of the crystal wall into an infinite number of sounding particles.

the fighters have disappeared, as if swallowed up by the earth.

Beyond

Calm chords of strong humming resonate out of the opening. The snow-crystal dust disperses. A glass world in white light becomes visible. In the middle, a glass conveyor belt floats at mid-height, and as it rolls from the depths to the front, silver and glass soldiers, tanks, aeroplanes, battle ships on it approach. Some of them are marked into groups by coloured dots or stripes.

Bluish glass beings with bright male voice are seated, to the left of the conveyor belt. To the right are similar beings with dark voices. All stare at the war material as it slowly glides past, and with glass croupier rakes, pull – at irregular intervals – one war toy or several or a little pile towards themselves, whereby the objects fall between the glass conveyor belt and their bodies onto a lower conveyor belt moving in the reverse direction. During this, glass stock-exchange clocks behind them tally the wins and losses in columns of colourful numbers. The humming becomes singing.

Synthi-fou – Farewell

At the words « löscht das Leid in alle Ewigkeit » (« effaces the suffering in all eternity »), some of the glass men raise their arms above their heads, and wave from back to front. One after another, red cross nurses of glass float into the room from both sides until behind each glass man a nurse has halted. Each woman stands half a body height higher than the man in front of her, and hold the fingertips of one or both of his hands.

A rotating disc wielding wild timbres whirls in from the left. On it, sits a colourful musician wearing green elephant ears, huge sun glasses, a very long nose. He is surrounded by keyboards and loudpseakers, and is playing, absolutely happy. The wagon drives up to the conveyor belt. The war players, staring at Synthi-Fou, slightly rise.

With élan, Synthi-Fou begins playing a foutouristic solo, becoming more exuberant with each bar. Now the war players stop theur game, and they strongly sing in chords, lightly swaying their shoulders at each chord change. Their language sounds unknown, their gestures look like hieroglyphs. But it is obvious from their expressions that they are amused by Synthi-Fou and that they admit him.

Unswervingly, the women – as well as the men – watch Synthi-Fou, and sing along, swaying back and forth with the chord changes synchronous with the glass men. The soprano voices in counter-rythm to the tenors, the alto voices in counter-rythm to the basses. One after another, they toss away their red cross nurses’ caps, then also other parts of their glassy clothing.

War toys incessantly glide forwards, falling off the front end of the conveyor belt onto the lower belt moving in the opposite direction.

The sound suddenly changes to crystal timbres. Instantaneously, the boundaries of the room transform into mirrors which endlessly mirror, invert, magnify, reduce, and mix the beings.

Synthi-Fou becomes ecstatic, infecting everyone with his happiness. In the auditorium, several tulle curtains sink to the floor, spaced at some distance, one in front of the other, and the dancing bodies can be seen enlarged on them. the view of the Beyond becomes indistinct. The choir singers depart in stylized dancing movements into the far distance.

Until the end, Synthi-Fou dances with his long fingers on the keys, grasps, sings , switches, plays — happy ! He is alone at the end. With the ritardando of the last 13 chords, which play by themselves, he has stood up, and as he counts backwards in a high, exalted voice he pulls a long, cut-off finger-glove from every finger, tossing each one in a different direction : « Thirteen – twelve – eleven » he tosses the long nose into the air. Then, he charmingly bows, steps down from his disc and stalks out.

For a long time, the electronic music continues to turn in sound loops, becomes softer and softer, as the lights fade out.