glass notes
Pick of the Week: Kepler

There is too much to go into with Kepler such is the wealth of material. The opera is bookended with the chorus singing the same text in Latin, part of the inscription on Kepler's tomb: "I have measured the heavens, now I measure earthly shadows, The mind belonged to heaven, the body's shadow rests here."

The first treatment of this text Glass gives us full exposition of that mode. We are introduced to the soundworld of Kepler. By the first scene of Act one we are fully there. After an opening monologue from Kepler and his doppelgänger (one for each range of the voice, 7 Keplers in all) we are given a very cool inverted flute figure a la the "breakdown flute line" of the final scene of Satyagraha. We're then treated to scene after scene of great "portraits" of scenes of Kepler's life.

One of the many highlights is from the first act, setting of the words of the writer Gryphius (there are 4 such scenes), Gryphius one is a simple meditation on the night and darkness which Kepler is thinking about in his medlings in astromony and astrology. The choir and soloists sing the texts and Glass launches into a truly symphonic episode.

There is such an abundance to talk about with Kepler, I hope to get into in time and bring out more highlights and insights into the music in text. But here is an astounding section of Act I – Gryphius 1 "Upon the Night." Please forgive the reduced quality of this mp3…not representative of the power of this recording.


Kepler- Gryphius 1

The opera closes then with a furiously fast scene leading into the Epilogue, a restatement of the Kepler epitaph with a rousing choral finale, somewhat militant, but with that element of timeless ritual which has attracted so many since Glass' early operas.  Kepler is a truly wonderful and focused piece.


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