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Heinz Holliger: Lunea (2018)

The poet Nikolaus Lenau is one of the most fascinating artistic personalities of the Romantic period. A dramatist, political intellectual, guitarist and violinist, as well as the most successful lyricist of the Biedermeier period, he was a highly talented polymath. Lenau led a restless, intense life informed by his love for a succession of women before becoming mentally deranged in 1844, remaining in psychiatric care until his death in 1850. His most passionate and almost lifelong love affair was with Sophie von Löwenthal, the wife of his friend Max. With Sophie, Lenau maintained a dual correspondence that was split between “official” letters and unrestrainedly intimate messages.

The Swiss musician Heinz Holliger, one of today’s most important composers, was so drawn to Nikolaus Lenau’s transgressive life, work, ideas and sensibility that he made the figure of the poet the subject of his song Lunea, which was premièred by Christian Gerhaher five years ago at Zurich Opera House. Lunea in turn became the nucleus of a new opera about Nikolaus Lenau, which will now be premièred at Zurich Opera House.

Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern by Heinz Holliger (*1939)

Musical director: Heinz Holliger
Librettist: Händl Klaus
Producer: Andreas Homoki
Stage design: Frank Philipp Schlössmann
Costumes: Klaus Bruns
Musical assistance: Michael Richter
Lighting designer: Franck Evin
Choir director: Raphael Immoos
Dramaturgy: Claus Spahn

Lenau: Christian Gerhaher
Sophie von Löwenthal: Juliane Banse
Anton Schurz: Ivan Ludlow
Marie Behrends/Karoline Unger: Sarah Maria Sun
Therese Schurz: Annette Schönmüller

Philharmonia Zürich
Basler Madrigalisten
Statistenverein am Opernhaus Zürich

World Premiere: 4 March 2018