Who is Lulu, the protagonist of Frank Wedekind’s tragedies Erdgeist (Earth Spirit, 1895) and Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora’s Box, 1902)? Introduced and described as ‘the real beast, the beautiful wild beast’, Lulu experiences her rise, freedom and downfall alongside rich, paying men, only to end up murdered by Jack the Ripper. Desired as a femme fatale and femme fragile in equal measure, this character exists as an image that others conjure up of her. So who is Lulu? The victim of a machinery of desire and oppression, of captivity and liberation. But perhaps she herself is also an engine of dazzling effects. Alban Berg’s incomplete Lulu, the first opera composed using the twelve-tone technique, premiered in 1937. And in 2023, it is to be staged by choreographer and dancer Marlene Monteiro Freitas. Together with the young conductor Maxime Pascal, the artist has opted to use the fragmentary version of the opera. In the third act, the composition is complemented in open form with portions of the Lulu Suite. In the joint project of the Wiener Festwochen and the MusikTheater an der Wien, the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra is in charge of the musical interpretation. Up on stage, the images come thick and fast, with Marlene Monteiro Freitas choosing to collaborate with an ensemble of singers and dancers for her first venture as opera director. Indeed, in Marlene Monteiro Freitas, the score rich in contrasts, the extravagance of the plot and the multi-faceted identity of Lulu herself have found an inspired and inspiring accomplice.
Marlene Monteiro Freitas, Alban Berg, Maxime Pascal, ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien
© Gerhard Richter 2022 (02082022)