Visual Artist William Kentridge Directs Acclaimed New Production of Berg’s Lulu Starring Marlis Petersen as the Irresistible Femme Fatale On Great Performances at the Met Sunday, April 10 at 12 p.m. on PBS
Alban Berg’s tragedy of a sexually irresistible woman who destroys the lives of everyone around her, Lulu, airs on THIRTEEN’S Great Performances at the Met Sunday, April 10 at 12 p.m. on PBS. (Check local listings.) (In New York, THIRTEEN will air the opera at 12:30 p.m.)
William Kentridge, who made his Great Performances at the Met debut with an innovative staging of Shostakovich’s The Nose, follows up with this new production.
German soprano Marlis Petersen, who has sung the title role to great acclaim around the world, leads the cast. Susan Graham, who has appeared in 18 different operas at the Met, adds a new role to her company repertory as the Countess Geschwitz, one of Lulu’s most devoted admirers. The men around them include American tenor Daniel Brenna as Alwa; Johan Reuter as Dr. Schön and Jack the Ripper; Paul Groves as the Painter and African Prince; and Franz Grundheber as Schigolch. Welsh National Opera music director Lothar Koenigs leads the performance.
One of the most important—not to mention notorious—stage works of the 20th century, Lulu is the drama of a young woman who sexually and emotionally dominates a wide range of willing victims, both male and female. Herself a victim of society, she seems to embody all the frightening aspects of the human condition, a combination of primal instinct and distinctly modern amorality.
Berg’s score employs the twelve-tone technique pioneered by his teacher Arnold Schoenberg but in a keenly dramatic way that makes it accessible to all kinds of audiences. Berg died before completing Act III of the opera, and “Lulu” was first performed as a fragment in 1937 at the Zurich Opera House. Efforts to finish the score based on Berg’s notes were hindered by his widow and only realized, after her death, by the Austrian composer Friedrich Cerha, in 1977.
The New York Times praised the production this fall calling it “(a) masterful Lulu … wrenching, ingeniously structured, grimly beautiful, especially in this visually stunning and searing production. The Met’s terrific cast is headed by the charismatic German soprano Marlis Petersen as Lulu…Mr. Kentridge and his team draw compelling performances from a gifted cast, artists who clearly embraced the production concept.”
And The Washington Post observed “What happened on the Met stage on Thursday was an even rarer commodity in many opera houses: serious art, on many levels…And Petersen was remarkable: a true singing actress who made this high-lying part sound almost effortless.”
Soprano Deborah Voigt hosts the broadcast.
Lulu was originally seen live in movie theaters on November 21, 2015 as part of the groundbreaking The Met: Live in HD series, which transmits live performances to more than 2,000 movie theaters and performing arts centers in over 70 countries around the world. The Live in HD series has reached a record-breaking 19 million viewers since its inception in 2006.
Great Performances at the Met is a presentation of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers.
Corporate support for Great Performances at the Met is provided by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®. Major funding for the Met Opera presentation is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. This Great Performances presentation is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, The Agnes Varis Trust, and public television viewers.
For the Met, Matthew Diamond directs the telecast. Jay David Saks is Music Producer. Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are Supervising Producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are Producers. Peter Gelb is Executive Producer. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer; David Horn is Executive Producer.
Visit Great Performances online at www.pbs.org/gperf for additional information on this and other Great Performances programs.
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About the Met
Under the leadership of General Manager Peter Gelb and Music Director James Levine, the Met has a series of bold initiatives underway that are designed to broaden its audience and revitalize the company’s repertory. The Met’s 2015-16 season features six new productions shown Live in HD, including Verdi’s Otello, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin and directed by Bartlett Sher; Berg’s Lulu, conducted by Lothar Koenigs and directed by acclaimed visual artist William Kentridge; Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles (The Pearl Fishers), conducted by Gianandrea Noseda and directed by Penny Woolcock; Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, conducted by Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi and directed by Sir Richard Eyre; Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux, conducted by Maurizio Benini and directed by Sir David McVicar; and Strauss’s Elektra, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen and directed by Patrice Chéreau.
Building on its 85-year-old radio broadcast history—heard over the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network—the Met uses advanced media distribution platforms and state-of-the-art technology to reach audiences around the world. The Met: Live in HD, the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning series of live performance transmissions to movie theaters around the world, celebrates its tenth season in 2015-16 with ten live transmissions. Met Opera on Demand, a subscription service, makes selections from the company’s extensive video and audio catalog of full-length performances available to the public online in exceptional, state-of-the-art quality. Metropolitan Opera Radio on Sirius XM broadcasts live performances from the Met stage three times a week during the opera season and the Met offers free live audio streaming of performances on its website once a week during the opera season.