Magazine article Musical Opinion

Schonberg's Moses Und Aron in Palermo

Magazine article Musical Opinion

Schonberg's Moses Und Aron in Palermo

Article excerpt

Arnold Schonberg's incomplete final opera comprises a series of striking tableaux depicting the Israelites, comprising their tribal elders, old men, and beggars, struggling to comprehend Moses' God, "unperceived and inconceivable" whom Moses' brother Aron attempts to exemplify in verbal and material images. Sadly, idea and image fail to coalesce to engender Faith, rendering Moses' despairing cry at the close of the Second Act: "O word, thou word that I lack." accompanied by a sustained F sharp on strings, an anguished yet fitting closure to an incomplete opera.

The score's glittering orchestration, its often chamber-like textures and lyrical vocal lines all grow from a single tone-row whose kaleidoscopic facets interweave and. re-form above a restless rhythmic undertow. Moses' verbal lack becomes sung speech, Aron's gift for language a high tenor line stretched to the limit.

On 21 April at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo a single recalcitrant Musicians Union almost scuppered the opening night of the first wholly Italian staging of this monumental work. Now that there is a right-wing Mayor in Palermo, who becomes ex officio Chairman of the Company's Administrative Board, the right-wing are determined to stage a come-back by ousting the excellent, much-respected current Sovrintendente, Francesco Giambrone.

Fortunately, the musicians of the other four Unions stood firm. They went on to deliver an incandescent reading under conductor Anton Stefan Reck's inspirational baton. …

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