Pierrot Lunaire

Midtown Opera Festival:

Pierrot Lunaire

Arnold Shoenberg, composer
TEXTS BY OTTO ERICH HARTLEBEN, after poems by Albert Giraud


"The work impresses. Sometimes harsh and sometimes sinuous, it even seduces." - New York Times


When & Where

Friday, April 7, 2017  |  9:00 pm
Playhouse on the Square  

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BEN MAKINO Conductor
Dylan Evans Stage Director
Bethania Baray Soprano
Andrew McIntosh Violin
Jonathan Kirkschey Cello
Chris James Flute/Piccolo
Mark Robson Pianist

About the Show

LANGUAGE: German with English surtitles

“I believe I am approaching a new way of expression.”
Arnold Schoenberg, 1912


Schoenberg made this statement when, after a period of hesitation, he finally found his way into composing Pierrot Lunaire, a performance piece for soprano and small instrumental ensemble. The rest of the score would rapidly follow in an onrush of inspiration, destined to be canonized as a crucial moment in modern art. Apart from its familiar place in music history, however, Pierrot Lunaire remains an inexhaustibly fascinating creation: visionary and experimental, yet somehow timeless.

While each song (melodrama) in this piece inhabits a remarkably distinctive world, Schoenberg traces an overarching three-part narrative. We first see the character of Pierrot in the ecstasy of inspiration, obsessed with his beloved Colombine and with his own image. But the atmosphere becomes more obsessive, sickly, “loony.” The second part plunges into a night of madness, reaching a climax with Pierrot’s hallucinatory decapitation by the moon. At last the sense of oppression lightens as the final seven melodramas bring Pierrot homeward to his native Italy and to memories of the past.* 

Back in 2010, Ben Makino's Blackbird Music Project produced a groundbreaking multimedia performance of Pierrot Lunaire, and it garnered rave reviews from the LA Times. Seven years later, Maestro Makino leads Opera Memphis in presenting a new reimagining or the work, tailored for our Memphis audience and set against the photography of Joey Miller.

*Adapted from laphil.com