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Kepler: An Opera by Philip Glass

All due respect to the other Glass music being played worldwide this week, the highlight has to be the US premiere of a concert-staging of Kepler at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.  While I'm still not quite sure what a "concert-staging" means, I am pretty sure that it will just be a concert with no props, though perhaps the singers will wear their costumes from Linz.

I've heard the opera from the Linz recordings and I'm happy to report that it's some of Glass' best music in years. It's fantastically self-referential.  By that I mean that there are familiar gestures in the music, but by and large the piece itself is a look back toward more abstract concepts of what an opera is.  The piece functions as more of an abstract dramatic oratorio and serves as a mirror through which we understand the character of Kepler as Glass sees him.

For those of you who are going to BAM, please share your thoughts with us through the weekend.

8 thoughts on “Kepler: An Opera by Philip Glass”

  1. Amy,
    Thats an interesting take on it. I heard a couple treatments of trumpets that reminded me of organic, but nothing outwardly similar. I thought the performance was wonderful. The orchestra, soloists, and chorus have their parts down pat by now. The piece really is oratorio like and could be presented as they did at BAM.
    For those who havent seen it yet, it was a concert-staging which meant largely that the chorus and the main Kepler (there are in fact 7 Keplers) came on and off the stage to sing their parts. The six non-main Keplers basically echoe Keplers doubts and inner thoughts as the main Kepler denounces detractors and authorities. The chorus observes the legacy of the power of Keplers accomplishments.
    The concert staging was effective though I would imagine all sorts of different interpretations of staging could take place from such a score. The music is of many different characters and moods. My favorite number was the powerful closing as the orchestra drives ever-forward then the chorus enters with a chant (the words of which escape me at the moment) of the words inscribed on Keplers tomb. It was very powerful and the composer himself looked very moved at the enthusiastic reception to the work.

  2. Kepler (2009). Philip Glass /u.s. premiere round-up/

    ‘“Kepler” is his most chromatic, complex, psychological score…“Kepler” is a wise, major opera.’ (Mark Swed/LA Times) “It’s fantastically self-referential. By that I mean that there are familiar gestures in the music, but by and large the piece itself…

  3. I attended the Saturday performance at BAM and since hearing Kepler and loving it, I have been looking for a recording to be released. As there are two references to such a recording in this blog, one in the article and one in the comments, I hope you will share with us your knowledge in this area. I can find no other news on a possible recording.

  4. I am listening to Kepler from the broadcast on Austrian TV, and it truly is terrific. When will there be a full and clean recording? As a Linzer, but now living in California, I feel sudden and unexpected pride.

  5. Oh god, you should feel pride, as the LA Times Mark Swed touched on. Why is America not behind the creation of these pieces (through individual sponsorship or public support)? Anyway, it doesnt really matter, but thanks to all the folks in Linz who support not only the commissioning of pieces like Symphony No.6, Symphony No.8 and Kepler, but also react enthusiastically to regular performances of Glass concert works like this months performance of Violin Concerto No.1, the performances in recent years of The Voyage (recorded), and Orphée. Its something of a playground for Davies. Im from Boston, and thats a playground for Levine and Elliot Carters music. While I like the occasional Carter work, Im jealous of the Linzers steady diet of Glass. Since DRD took over this season the Basel Symphony Orchester, look for more Glass to be done in Switzerland. Already hes programed Symphony No.2 and the Tirol Concerto.

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