Lera Auerbachs choral opera The Blind premieres at the New Orleans Opera

The fascinating choral opera "The Blind" by the Russian-American composer Lera Auerbach celebrates its premiere on 4 April 2019 at the New Orleans Opera.
The special feature of this work after a subject by Maurice Maeterlinck is that the spectators are blindfolded for the duration of the performance. In addition, it is a novelty in the genre history with regard to the cast.

The composer comments on her work:
“Some works have a destiny of their own, independent of the intentions of their authors. They arrive, unannounced, slam the door in your face, take residency in your house and boss you around.
In the summer of 1994, I was a student at the Aspen Music School, taking piano lessons with Joseph Kalichstein and spending every moment I could to read books, which my parents were sending to me all the way from Siberia. Slowly, one parcel at a time – our large library was following me to the US. I still remember the smell of the thick blue volume of the Maeterlinck’s plays, that peculiar blend of old paper and print; smell, which is forever associated in my memories with my childhood and our home in Russia. The moment I opened ‘The Blind’ I had a jolt of recognition: ‘This is a perfect anti-opera or, perhaps, an a capella opera,’ was my first thought. ‘This is insane, there is no such thing as an a capella opera, this is just not possible!’ was my second thought. And before I knew it – I started sketching the libretto and the thematic material. A few weeks later, by the end of the Aspen Music Festival, I had a complete manuscript of the opera. To this day it remains one of the strangest creations in my catalog. It was not commissioned, nobody seemed to want it. So, it went into my desk, where it remained for many years until 2011, when Berliner Kammeroper found out about its existence and asked to see the score.
Shortly after the Berlin premiere, the Stanislavsky Theater in Moscow presented their own production of ‘The Blind.’ For the overture I selected an electronic piece, which I composed in 1993 ‘After the End of Time.’ Its post-apocalyptic soundscape set the desired emotional frame for the opera. The Overture was omitted in Berlin and shortened for the Moscow production. Then Lincoln Center was the the first one to present it in its entirety."

A group of blind patients have been led into the forest by their priest who guided them there to enjoy the last rays of sun before the winter. Realizing that they have gone too far, the priest tells them to wait while he seeks food and help. In their frustration and helplessness, they pray for forgivneness and salvation, but the tension mounts inexorably when they discover the cold body of the priest who has died among them.

04.04.2019       
New Orleans Opera       
Prem. Lera Auerbach,                                   
Choral opera “The Blind”                       
(Cond.: Lera Auerbach)
(Marigny Opera)

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