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Wolfgang Rihm: Das Gehege

  • A noctural scene (2004-2005)
  • for soprano and orchestra
  • 3 3 3 3 - 4 4 3 1 - timp, perc(3), hp, pno, str
  • Duration: 45’
  • Soloists:
  • Instrumentation details:
    1st flute
    2nd flute
    3rd flute (+picc)
    1st oboe
    2nd oboe
    cor anglais
    1st clarinet in A
    2nd clarinet in A
    bass clarinet in Bb
    1st bassoon
    2nd bassoon
    1st horn in F
    2nd horn in F
    3rd horn in F
    4th horn in F
    1st trumpet in C
    2nd trumpet in C
    3rd trumpet in C
    piccolo trumpet
    1st trombone
    2nd trombone
    3rd trombone
    contrabass tuba
    1st percussion
    2nd percussion
    3rd percussion
    violin I
    violin II
  • Roles: The woman (dramatic soprano) The eagle (silent part)
  • Composer: Wolfgang Rihm
  • Writer of pre-existing text: Botho Strauß
  • Commission: Auftragswerk der Bayerischen Staatsoper

Work introduction

The long-standing artistic collaboration between conductor Kent Nagano and composer Wolfgang Rihm – responsible, among other things, for Das Lesen der Schift and Europa nach dem letzten Regen – has now resulted in the monodrama Das Gehege, commissioned by the Bavarian Staatsoper for Nagano’s first production as music director there. The first performance took place on 27 October 2006, with William Friedkin directing. Rihm has created a music theatre piece for dramatic soprano (Gabriele Schnaut) and orchestra from the final part of Botho Strauss’ play Schlusschor. "The woman in this solo music theatre piece holds a dialogue with an eagle in a game reserve. In so doing she illuminates – with all the concentration and expressivity of contemporary (musical) language – the desires for strength and devotion, for self-realisation and social integration, that exist directly alongside one another in human beings – thus revealing a sister relationship with another figure placed on the operatic stage roughly a hundred years earlier – Salome." (Peter Heikler)

A woman comes out of the darkness. It is night and the woman is alone. She arrives at the zoo. She speaks to the golden eagle in his aviary, takes a knife, frees the bird and admires the eagle's body. She challenges the eagle to attack her. She mocks it. The more she irritates the eagle, the closer it comes to her. When the woman realilzes how old and powerless the bird is, she feels superior to it. The eagle pounces on her; she kills it.

Longing, strength and love drive the woman into a cage. Here she has a conversation with an eagle. She frees the bird in order to kill him. Absurd, paradoxical? To kill what we love? To free in order to love - to free oneself through love? There can be no doubt: These questions make the woman in the cage a sister spirit of Salome. Das Gehege - a gigantic, monomaniacal solo.


The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

World première

Bayerische Staatsoper, München (DE)
Bayerisches Staatsorchester
Kent Nagano
Main soloists:
Gabriele Schnaut - Die Frau; Todd Ford - Der Adler

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