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"The Earthquake" by Avet Terterian Receives its Premiere in Munich

The world premiere of the Armenian composer Avet Terterian's opera "The Earthquake" at Munich's Grtnerplatztheater is being awaited with keen anticipation. The opera's libretto is by the composer and Gerta Stecher. The premiere will take place on 16 March 2003 under the musical direction of Ekkehard Klemm; the producer is Klaus Guth.

Heinrich von Kleist's famous 1806 novella "The Earthquake in Chile" provides the basic outline of the dramatic operatic subject, which is the destruction of Santiago de Chile in 1647. Kleist tells of a nobleman's daughter who was placed in a convent in order to separate her from her lover. When the lovers are caught in the convent garden, they are sentenced to death. An earthquake frees them shortly before the execution. The lovers go to the city's half destroyed cathedral in order to take part in the Mass and thank God for saving them. They are recognised there and branded guilty at the trial, then killed by the enraged crowd.

Avet Terterian's creativity is rooted in the archaic traditions of Armenian music. Melodic flourishes are present, but are used as sound gestures contrasting with passages rich in tone colour. The point of departure of Terterian's style is often a single tone held out over long stretches of time.

In a conversation with Hannelore Gerlach, Terterian commented upon his work as follows: "The confrontation between the individual and the masses is the stimulating thing about this subject. It is the problem of a pure, honest love amidst collective cruelty arising from the insensitive adherence to outmoded moral concepts. Many problems come to a head here through the occurrence of the earthquake - people's behaviour towards each other, their weaknesses, their transformations. The point is not the unsettling of the earth as a natural event, but rather the unsettling of each individual person and the behaviour caused by it."