When: Sun., Nov. 1, 2 p.m., Wed., Nov. 4, 7:30 p.m., Sat., Nov. 7, 7:30 p.m., Thu., Nov. 12, 7:30 p.m., Mon., Nov. 16, 7:30 p.m. and Sat., Nov. 21, 7:30 p.m. 2015
There are no hummable tunes in director David McVicar’s striking new production of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck. Instead what Berg gives us in the vocal parts of this affecting rumination on war, politics, and the human condition is musical speech—dramatic lines delivered in an expressive but never tuneful voice. The gorgeous music all comes from the Lyric Opera Orchestra (conducted by Andrew Davis), which works in part because of pitch-perfect acting and staging, and in part because Berg’s complex score blends atonal experimentation with subtle traditional musical forms to pack a rich emotional punch. Berg based Wozzeck on Georg Büchner’s early 19th-century play Woyzeck and his own experience in the Austrian military in World War I, which is roughly when McVicar has set it. The title character (sung by bass-baritone Tomasz Konieczny) is a beleaguered soldier—an impoverished everyman who has been brutally exploited, literally driven mad, and betrayed by everyone from his military superiors to his mistress (soprano Angela Denoke). There’s no use of video during the opera, but with 15 scenes in three acts in 90 riveting minutes—run straight through and carried by an orchestral score—this Wozzeck is cinematic in the best sense of the word.