Seminars on Contemporary Opera

Leaps in Time!

Quotation, Reference and History in Contemporary Opera

Course Description

Following the so-called "end of history", new operas have developed a new, often idiosyncratic historical consciousness. In contrast to the repertoire industry, in which historicity can be reflected by means of staging alone, contemporary opera productions develop their relationship to the "process stored within the object" (Adorno), to the historicity of their material, in the "intermedial" areas between music, text, staging and performance. What are the aesthetic operations of such intermedial processes? How do they together form a critical attitude towards the concept of "history"? And what roles does history play in the conception of contemporary music-theatrical forms and narratives in general?

Based on a handful of contemporary operas, this seminar seeks to address these questions. Led by composer Hauke Berheide and writer/director Dr. Amy Stebbins, we will examine production recordings, scores, libretti and programmes through the lens of theoretical texts by Walter Benjamin, Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, Helmut Lachenmann, Bernd Alois Zimmermann and Carolyn Abbate, and others.

Taught at the Ruhr-Universität-Bochum, Winter 2020

The Art-Work of the Present?

Toward conceptual frameworks for new opera

Course Description

This course is intended to provide an introduction to 21st-century opera. Works explored include: Avis de Tempête (Aperges/Szendy), Breaking the Waves (Mazzoli/Vavrek), Erdbeben Träum (Hosokawa/Beyer), Mauerschau (Berheide/Stebbins), Only the Sound Remains (Saariaho/Pound/Fenollosa), Rivale (Ronchetti/Danchets), and Written on Skin (Benjamin/Crimp). Theoretical authors include: Carolyn Abbate, T.W. Adorno, Stanley Cavell, David J. Levin, Pierre Boulez, and Richard Wagner.

Taught at the Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Summer 2019