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“The anticipation was truly enormous... Half of operatic Germany sat in the stalls of the Halle Opera House... and the immediate reaction was unqualified praise.” Thus the German Radio correspondent described the triumphant opening night of Detlev Glanert’s new opera Jest, Satire, Irony and Deeper Meaning on 2 February, conducted by Roger Epple and staged by Fred Berndt. This rare example of a successful new comic opera proved to be a great hit with the public, resulting in the scheduling of an additional performance to meet box office demand. Plans are already underway for productions in other German opera houses, including Krefeld and Regensburg.



Jest, Satire, Irony and Deeper Meaning is eminently practical for performances at smaller opera houses as it has no chorus, calls for only 13 singers, and employs a chamber orchestra with possibilities for reduced string strength. The opera’s libretto by Jorg W. Gronius is based on the radical 1827 play by Christian Dietrich Grabbe, Scherz, Satire, Ironie und tiefere Bedeutung. Detlev Glanert was immediately attracted to the play’s apocalyptic comedy, and its relevance to our own time and situation:

“The plot is set in a strange enclosed world, a village peopled by madmen (ie ourselves): they communicate only to pursue their own selfish aims and there is hardly any human feeling... beyond the village there is ‘Nothing’ which the characters and events finally enter when they leave the action of the stage... The music has the task of relentlessly driving on the caricatures, the distortions: it determines the speed and force with which we are rushing towards the Apocalypse (in Karl Krauss’s sense)... the world and the world theatre end, and the only thing that can help us who remain, that can break the spell, is our own laughter.”

“Devilish fun with a cloven hoof ... intelligent and sensual.” Die Welt

Synopsis
An infernal accident has transported the Devil to Earth. In vain the natural science academicians attempt to analyse him. Meanwhile evil has already infected the next generation. Gottliebchen, the German schoolteachers’ hope for the national genius of the future, proves to be genocidal. In the end it only requires one gesture from him to make the whole of society fall into the abyss and vanish from sight. Only the lovers – whom he curses – survive. Society needs no Devil to destroy itself. Evil is within us. One can only laugh about it.
Jorg W. Gronius

“The Devil spins his intricate plots, setting everybody against each other, driving things towards the great showdown... and providing Glanert with the occasion to create highly colourful and effective music theatre. Henze’s pupil once again demonstrates his sure touch with the musical characterisation of his cast, with the exact timing of scenes and the highly wrought sequence of solos and ensembles... he offers all that the orchestra and operatic history can supply... in a score that, for all its full colour, realises its musical ideas in a clear and economical structure...” Die Deutsche Bühne

“Thrilling and resounding, furnished with the most extraordinary instrumental effects, the music rises from the depths, delicately worked even where it describes the banalities of ordinary life, ennobling the grotesque with demonic intensity... Glanert’s opera, highly intelligent and sensual, can permit itself any number of allusions and quotations without losing its originality... Larger opera houses would also relish this work. The whole thing is a devilish delight.” Die Welt

“In the end everything goes to the Devil: the castle in ruins, the characters gone in a whirlwind, the scientists with their test tubes. And the Devil is called home by his Grandmother. Judging by her blonde and buxom Alpine outfit, Hell can only be one of those TV programmes with forced audience participation... at the end of the two hour performance, the public joyfully acclaimed a welcome operatic newcomer.” Leipziger Volkszeitung

Detlev Glanert has emerged in the past decade at the forefront of Germany’s young opera composers. In addition to the planned new productions of Jest, Satire, Irony and Deeper Meaning, a third staging of his dark political opera Joseph Süss (1999) opens in Heidelberg next March and plans are underway for a third production of his Mirror of the Great Emperor (1995) in Gelsenkirchen.

Glanert orchestral premieres
Alongside his operatic activities, Detlev Glanert is also in demand in the orchestral world. His Burleske, a contredanse written for the Bavarian State Orchestra, was premiered in Munich on 19 March under the baton of Jun Märkl. The chamber orchestra version of his Karikaturen was premiered in May by the Berlin Chamber Symphony under Jürgen Bruns, and the full orchestra version receives its first performance on 13 November with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Matthias Bamert as part of the European Music Month in Basel. In the UK during the past season Glanert has been featured in the programmes of both the BBC Symphony and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestras, featuring Symphony No.3, Mahler-Skizze and Piano Concerto No.1. In October his Parergon from The Mirror of the Great Emperor receives its US premiere with the Indianapolis Symphony under Jun Märkl.

To view a list of Detlev Glanert's operas, please click here.

Photo: The Devil makes his appearance in Glanert's Jest, Satire, Irony and Deeper Meaning. Credit: Halle Opera

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