A Giant statue of EVE.
Monday from Light (1984-1988)
for vocal soloists (mostly soprano trio & tenor trio), choir, children’s choir, girls’ choir, piano, basset horn, flute, piccolo, modern orchestra (3 synthesizer players, 1 percussionist, tape).

     MONTAG is EVE's day, the Day of Birthing. This opera is a celebration of birth and the rebirth of humanity. EVE is represented by basset horn and flute. EVE gives birth to a new form of Mankind, but the children and their caretakers are mocked by LUCIFER. In the end a Pied Piper flautist leads the children off into the distance.

     Stockhausen's 3rd entry in the LICHT opera cycle (based on the 7 days of the week) is titled MONTAG aus LICHT, or Monday From Light. This opera is a celebration of the LICHT character EVE, who represents the feminine side of humanity. Through text, narrative and "Sound Scenes" (taped sound collages), Eve is worshiped both as a mother and a lover.

     Work began on Monday From Light immediately after Saturday From Light was completed, and went on throughout the production of Saturday From Light's premiere in 1984. Stockhausen subsequently premiered some parts of Monday From Light (independently from the opera) as early as 1985. The 2nd and 3rd Acts, "Eve's 2nd Birth-Giving" (dedicated to Suzanne Stephens) and "Eve's Magic" (dedicated to Stephens and Kathinka Pasveer) were composed from 1984-86, while the 1st Act, "Eve's 1st Birth-Giving" (dedicated to "EVA, Mother of the World"), was composed in 1987. The opening and closing Greeting and Farewell sequences were completed last, just in time for the full opera premiere in 1988 (La Scala, Milan Italy). The tape-collage Sound Scenes were assembled earlier in 1985.

     In contrast to Saturday From Light (which was highly instrumental in nature), this opera is characterized by layers of mixed vocal combos and choir groups, with some solo instruments featured in the 3rd Act. The Stockhausen Edition CD 36 recording features Suzanne Stephens (woodwinds), and Kathinka Pasveer (flutes), Nicholas Isherwood (bass vocal), Annette Meriweather (soprano), and Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano). Supportive electronic synthesizer layers were performed by Simon Stockhausen, Michael Obst, and Michael Svoboda, and Andreas Boettger provided percussion elements. The choir groups were assembled from the WDR Cologne Choir, the Radio Budapest Children's Choir, and Zaans Cantatekoor (Holland).

EVE Sirens
     Acts 1 and 2 are essentially electro-acoustic cantatas centered around complex birth/childhood ceremonies. The final Scene of Act 2 features the basset horn as a solo instrument. The 3rd Act, a choral fantasia featuring basset horn and flute soloists, describes EVA's discovery of her "mirror-image" AVE. At the end, AVE entrances a crowd of children and leads them off (into the Heavens).
MONTAGs GRUSS (Monday Greeting, 1988): 
     This 4-channel tape piece (created through tape speed-manipulated woodwind melodies) is used as "entrance music" as the audience arrives. The venue's foyer space is also bathed in greenish waves, to give the effect of being underwater. A sculpture of a female basset-horn player is situated in the center of the room.  
Monday Greeting Further Analysis and Listening Guide
Act 1: EVAs ERSTGEBURT (Eve's 1st Birth-Giving, 1987):
     This opening Act is musically characterized by vocal trios and electronics, supported by 3 choral groups: female choir (SA), male choir (TB), and children's choir (boys' voices). There is no orchestra. Three synthesizers mostly comment on and shadow the vocal elements, using drones and modulating timbres. Many of the visual elements also have corresponding sound effects projected.
     Narratively, a giant Eve figure gives birth to 7 Animal-boys and 7 Heinzelmännchen (gnomes), who are celebrated by a siren trio of EVE sopranos and a visiting trio of tenor "sailors".  However, after a reckless carriage race, Lucipolyp (a "disturbed" male vocal duo) arrives and ruins the mood. Lucifer arrives and commands the children to return to Eve's womb so that a 2nd birthing process can be attempted (in Act 2). This Act has 6 Scenes:
  • Scene 1: IN HOFFNUNG (Expecting): A lighthouse-sized Eve is bathed by a female choir, which generally sings slow, ethereal harmonies. A trio of soprano soloists standing on Eve's shoulder contribute siren-like wails and pronouncements. After a cycle of "9 months", dawn arrives - met by an "explosion" from Eve's womb (signifying birth). 
  • Scene 2: HEINZELMÄNNCHEN: 7 "Animal-boys" and 7 Heinzelmännchen (gnomes) are born. During this sequence, the "midwife" Soprano trio offer more fervent, intertwining melody figures over the quietly keening choir. 
  • Scene 3: GEBURTS-ARIE (Birth Arias)
    • Erste GEBURTS-ARIE (1st Birth Aria): The 3 Sopranos are featured in a contrapuntal (3-layered) song of thanksgiving.
    • Zweite GEBURTS-ARIE (2nd Birth Aria): 3 Tenor sailors arrive with food and gifts (singing in a harmonized "barbershop" style). At the end the Soprano trio joins the Tenor trio in a tutti. The sailors depart.
  • Scene 4: KNABENGESCHREI (Boy's Hullabaloo): The 7 Animal-boys are driven around in carriages in a square course (musically represented in even meter by Soprano choir, 1 soprano soloist, Animal-boys). At the same time, the 7 Heinzelmännchen are raced around in a triangle course (represented in odd meter by Alto & Tenor choirs, 2 soprano soloists, and the Heinzelmännchen). In other words, male, female and children's choirs create a slowly-accelerating polyrhythmic groove. This "Baby Buggy Boogie" ends in a chaotic crash. 
  • Scene 5: LUZIFERs ZORN (Lucifer's Fury): Lucipolyp, a black "double-octopus", appears amidst the tangle of crashed baby strollers. The Lucipolyp bass vocal soloist then begins celebrating the alphabet in a somewhat disturbed manner, shadowed by his "other half" (an actor vocalizing in even more bizarre styles).  Eventually the women bury Lucipolyp in the sand and protectively hide the boys and Heinzelmännchen under their skirts.
  • Scene 6: DAS GROSSE GEWEINE (The Great Weeping): During a storm ("weeping skies"), the Heinzelmännchen begin to misbehave and cause mischief. Umbrellas come out and move to the rhythm of the music. Finally Lucifer (as a fisherman) appears from the sea and orders the children to return to giant Eve's womb.  Musically, this Scene revisits the opening musical textures from Scene 1, and features the Soprano trio and choir.
Act 1 Further Analysis and Listening Guide
Act 2: EVAs ZWEITGEBURT (Eve's 2nd Birth-Giving): 
     This Act musically features a girls' choir, a piano solo, 7 boy soloists and a basset-horn (joined by additional vocal soloists). In this Act, a candle-lit girls' procession gives praise to Eve. Then one of the Animal-boys from the previous Act resurfaces to impregnate the giant Eve statue with a piano solo. Afterwards, 7 boys are born, and they are "seduced" by a "Couer de Basset". This Act has 4 Scenes. The first 3 Scenes, composed in 1987, feature the girls choir with a brief (but important!) piano solo (which was originally composed in 1984 for Pierre Boulez' birthday). Scene 4, EVAs LIED, was composed earlier in 1986.
  • Scene 1: MÄDCHENPROZESSION (Girls' Procession): 3 groups of girls approach the stage in lily blossom costumes, lighting the stage with their hand-held candles.  The 9-part girls' choir sings rhythms in different rhythms (polyrhythms), praising and thanking Eve, and asking her to give birth to more musical human beings. 
  • Scene 2: BEFRUCHTUNG mit KLAVIERSTÜCK (Conception with Piano Piece): The now-grown Budgerigar-Boy from the first Act arrives, playing a stretched-out grand piano. He parks it between the giant Eve's legs.  The pianist plays a solo accompanied by chants from the lily blossom girls (girls' choir).
  • Scene 3: WIEDERGEBURT (Re-Birth): The bird-pianist drives away and the women begin boiling water.  7 boys are born, each named for a day of the week (Monday-boy, Tuesday-boy, etc...). The girls' choir resumes singing as before during this sequence.
  • Scene 4: EVAs LIED (EVE's Song): Scene 4 features the basset horn (mostly solo, but then eventually joined by a "basset tease" trio and a female vocal soloist), 7 boy soloists and synthesizers. It is further divided into 4 sub-scenes .
    • COEUR DE BASSET: A Coeur de Basset (basset horn player) in the shape of a heart emerges from the giant Eve's chest (playing "Eve's song").  
    • WOCHENKREIS (Circle of the Week): She teaches each boy a song (each day of the week has its own song). The basset-horn part is playfully echoed by each boy soloist.
    • BASSETTINEN (Basset Teases): 3 more versions of Eve's basset horn player emerge from the giant Eve statue: Busi, Busa and Muschi. They play with the boys seductively. At the same time a giant, standing Eve-spirit (glass statue) begins to light up.  
    • INITIATION: Each Song of the Week is reinterpreted as a layered harmony, featuring Muschi (Soprano) in the lead voice. The standing Eve figure begins to dance. Eventually the 7 boys, the basset horn players and the giant Eve-spirit all disappear behind the sitting Eve statue, as playful erotic noises fade away.
Act 2 Further Analysis and Listening Guide
Act 3: EVAs ZAUBER (Eve's Magic): 
     In Act 3's 1st Scene, BOTSCHAFT (Message), EVE/EVA (as a basset horn player) encounters her reflection: AVE (a flautist), and features a basset horn and alto flute duo (based on micro-tones) with choir accompaniment. In the final two Scenes, DER KINDERFÄNGER (The Pied Piper) and ENTFÜHRUNG (Abduction), the children of EVE are entranced and then spirited away by AVE, who has become a Pied Piper figure. These Scenes focus on a solo flautist (with piccolo) and a children's choir interacting with concrete "Sound Scenes" .
  • Scene 1: BOTSCHAFT (Message, 1985): Divided into 4 sections, in this scene a basset-horn and alto flute duet throughout all 4 parts, although the flautist (AVE) is mostly hidden for the first 3 parts.
    • EVA's SPIEGEL (EVE's Mirror): Eve/Coeur de Basset performs while regarding her reflection in a glass sculpture. The Boys of the Week from Act 2 (now grown up into Young Men), sing, "Mirror, mirror on the wall - who's the fairest of them of all?" 
    • NACHRICHT (News): A crowd of women arrive and report the appearance of a "musicus", with magic powers. The women depart, and the Coeur de Basset plays seductively with the Men of the Week, who sing, "Susani..." 
    • SUSANI (& SUSANI'S ECHO): The Young Men praise the Coeur de Basset. In this sequence, the basset-horn navigates a 3-voice polyphony, and the unseen flute plays a 2-voice polyphony.
    • AVE: AVE, a female flautist (but dressed in male attire) arrives, leading the returned crowd of women. EVE and AVE play a duet using "humour, charm and erotic allusion." The mixed choir comments during their duet. EVA and AVE end their performance entwined in a pose (a kiss on the hand and applause is heard).
  • Scene 2: DER KINDERFÄNGER (The Pied Piper, 1986): A crowd of children arrive, and AVE turns his/her attention to them. AVE, now acting as a "pied-piper" character, begins to enchant the children, with Sound Scenes, alto flute and vocal exhortations. The children mimic the sounds of the Pied Piper and ultimately become AVE's "puppets".  
  • Scene 3: ENTFÜHRUNG (Abduction, 1986): The Pied Piper (now with piccolo flute) plays an infectious song (the Eve melody) to draw the entranced children into the clouds. The children throw their shoes into a huge pile and depart while singing (their voices turning into bird calls). Meanwhile, the giant Eve statue slowly crumbles and transforms into a mountain, with white birds circling above it. After a while one of the departed children returns and retrieves his shoes, reporting: "It is very dirty outside!", and then runs away again (not heard on CD recording).
Act 3 Further Analysis and Listening Guide
MONTAGs ABSCHIED (Monday Farewell, 1988):
     Monday Farewell is a tape-manipulated version of "Abduction" consisting of the children's choir part (sung by soprano Kathinka Pasveer on 2 tracks (lower and higher voice)) and the piccolo flute part (also Pasveer).  Additionally, dense samples of birdsong (44 different species) are interspersed throughout. The piccolo flute and soprano voices are transposed upwards over a duration of 28 minutes so that they join the "natural" (un-modulated) bird sounds in the higher sonic stratosphere.
Monday Farewell Further Analysis and Listening Guide

Girls' Procession
Eve's Day
     In contrast to Saturday From Light, which had minimal vocals and no electronics or tapes, Monday From Light is dominated by vocals, synthesizer textures and sound effects, with only basset-horn, piano and flute appearing as traditional orchestral instruments (but featured in purely soloistic roles). Children's choir appears here for the first time in the LICHT cycle, and will have an equally important role in Friday From Light (which features opposing "children's brigades"). The melodic features of the Eve formula are also highlighted throughout, most notably its signature microtonal "bending" tones (glissandi) and smoother, more consonant harmonies and figures.

     Michael and his trumpet do not appear at all this time, but Lucifer pops up here and there as a "spoilsport", and is featured in the bizarre male vocal duet of "Lucifer's Fury". The 3rd Act's "magical" bifurcation of the Eve persona surprisingly adds a slightly sinister element to the final climax of this "birthing drama" (Ave leads the children away from Eve). However this opera is also probably the funniest of the LICHT entries so far, due in part to the frequently hilarious sound effects (Sound Scenes) scattered throughout.

     The table below lists the instrumental forces for each scene.

MONDAY GREETING Basset horn and tape
EVE'S 1st BIRTH-GIVING: 3 Sopranos, 3 Tenors, Bass, actor, choir, 
children’s choir, 3 synthesizers, perc., tape
         EXPECTING (feat. 3 Sopranos and choir)
         HEINZELMÄNNCHEN (feat. 3 Sopranos)
         BIRTH-ARIAS (feat. 3 Sopranos, 3 Tenors w. choir)
         BOYS' HULLABALOO (feat. choir)
         LUCIFER'S FURY (feat. Bass vocal soloist and vocalizing actor)
EVE'S 2nd BIRTH-GIVING: 7 Boy vocal soloists, basset horns, piano, children's choir,
girls' choir, 3 synthesizers, perc., tape
           GIRLS' PROCESSION (feat. girls' choir)
(feat. piano (PIANO PIECE XIV))
           RE-BIRTH (feat. children's choir)
           EVE'S SONG (feat. basset horn, synthesizer, boy vocalists)
EVE'S MAGIC: Basset horn, alto flute with piccolo, 
children's choir, 3 synthesizers, perc., tape
           MESSAGE (feat. basset horn and alto flute soloists)
           THE PIED PIPER/ (feat. alto flute, piccolo, children's choir)
MONDAY FAREWELL Tape featuring piccolo flute, Soprano voices and musique concrete

The color for MONDAY is LIGHT GREEN.

     Released on Stockhausen Edition CD 36, MONTAG aus LICHT (MONDAY from LIGHT) features bass vocalist Nicholas Isherwood, soprano Annette Meriweather, pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, the WDR Cologne Choir, the Radio Budapest Children's Choir, Zaans Cantatekoor (Holland), Suzanne Stephens (woodwinds), Kathinka Pasveer (flutes), Simon Stockhausen (electronics) and others.
  • MONTAGs-GRUSS (EVA-GRUSS)/Monday Greeting (EVE's Greeting) for basset-horn (Suzanne Stephens) and tape (composed/created 1986/1988).
  • Act 1: EVAs ERSTGEBURT (EVE's First Birth-Giving) for 3 sopranos, 3 tenors, bass, vocal actor, choir, boys’ choir, 3 synthesizers, percussion and musique concrète tape, rec. 1988.
  • Act 2: EVAs ZWEITGEBURT (EVE's Second Birth-Giving) for girls' choir, piano, 7 solo boy singers, 3 basset-horns, 1 singing basset horn, choir, 3 synthesizers, percussion, and musique concrète tape (1984-1987), rec. 1986/88.
  • Act 3: EVAs ZAUBER (EVE's Magic) for basset horn, alto flute, piccolo flute, choir, children's choir, 3 synthesizers, percussion, and musique concrète tape (1984-1986), rec. 1986/88.
  • MONTAGs-ABSCHIED Monday Farewell (EVE's Farewell) - Tape piece for speed-manipulated piccolo flute, soprano voices and bird samples (composed/created 1986/1988), feat. Kathinka Pasveer.
Purchase the Score
LICHTWERKE DVD English Transcript (PDF)
LICHTWERKE Youtube version
Stockhausen on Opera (Interview with Jerome Kohl)
Sonoloco rundown of MONTAG AUS LICHT
Albrecht Moritz on MONTAG AUS LICHT


(from Lucifers Dance)
Saturday from Light (1981-1983)
for Bass vocal, piano, flute, 6 percussionists, trombone, piccolo flute, piccolo trumpet, symphonic wind band, men's chorus (with hand percussion), organ.
Staged with 2 solo dancers, ballet or mimes.

     SAMSTAG is LUCIFER's day, the Day of Death (and Resurrection). It is also the Night of the transition to the LIGHT. LUCIFER's instrument is the trombone, which is featured in the opening Greeting. LUCIFER has a dream of death and resurrection, after which a cat-like flautist protects his coffin with musical exercises. Then an orchestra made up in the image of LUCIFER's face battles itself into self-destruction. Finally a group of monks release a caged black bird into the sky.

     Act 1, LUZIFERs TRAUM (KLAVIERSTÜCK XIII), or Lucifer's Dream (Piano Piece 13), was written in 1981 for daughter and pianist Majella Stockhausen's 20th birthday, who premiered it in 1982. LUZIFERs ABSCHIED (Lucifer's Farewell) was the next to be completed, and the Händel Collegium Köln was featured in its 1982 premiere (in Assisi on the occasion of the 800th anniversary celebration of Saint Francis' birth). KATHINKAs GESANG (Kathinka's Chant, for flute and 6 percussionists), a dedication to flautist Kathinka Pasveer (for her 24th birthday) was begun in 1982 and premiered at Donaueschingen in 1983 (an alternate version using electronics instead of live percussion premiered in 1985 at IRCAM). LUZIFERS TANZ (Lucifer's Dance), a commission from conductor H. Robert Reynolds for the Michigan Symphony Band, was composed in 1983 and premiered in 1984 at Ann Arbor, Michigan (USA). Finally, SAMSTAGs-GRUSS (Saturday Greeting), also for H. Robert Reynolds, was completed in 1984 in time for the staged premiere of the complete SAMSTAG aus LICHT opera, held at the Palazzo dello Sport, produced by La Scala in Milan, Italy.

     SAMSTAG aus LICHT (Saturday From Light) is devoted to the character Lucifer, the antagonist of the LICHT saga. Apparently picking up from his departure at the end of DONNERSTAG aus LICHT (Thursday From Light), Lucifer is betrayed, dies, and is resurrected, after which he begins his campaign against Humanity once again with a "danse macabre" represented by the writhing features of a giant human face. There is very little in the way of "dialogue" (just a few rants and pronouncements from Lucifer), so this production is much more instrumental in nature (especially compared to the text-heavy Thursday From Light). However, there is no shortage of "spectacle"...
SAMSTAGs GRUSS (Saturday Greeting, Lucifer's Greeting)
     This opening Greeting is a kind of "dark fanfare" to the opera proper. Some of the other LICHT opera Greetings are employed more as electronic ambient music to "set the mood" as the audience arrives (for example in MONTAGs GRUSS and FREITAGs GRUSS), but SAMSTAG's Greeting is clearly an ominous "call from the depths", characterized by ritualistic tolling bells and low, menacing brass. In a live performance, there are 4 brass/percussion groups arranged around the audience.

Scene 1: LUZIFERs TRAUM (KLAVIERSTÜCK XIII) (Lucifer's Dream (Piano Piece 13)
     Lucifer (a bass vocalist) leans on a cloud (or sits in a chair) and looks into the distance. He plays a few chords on his piano. "Majella" (apparently his personal pianist/companion) enters and takes over the piano, allowing Lucifer to fall into a trance (his eyes remain open). Majella essentially provides the musical contours of his dream-reverie, which consists primarily of elaborated forms of the Eve and Lucifer formulas (a scrolling, 5-layer "light show" is projected which is designed to symbolize the musical melodies being played).

     During this dream/trance, Lucifer sometimes mumbles in his sleep (numbers, musical terms, etc.). Majella also contributes spoken numbers, whispers, whistling and plays the inside strings of the piano (sometimes with a "bone-headed mallet"). After one of Lucifer's half-conscious rants, Majella launches (small) rockets up into the sky towards a projection of the Earth (signifying Lucifer's distaste for the Earth and war against Michael). Shortly thereafter, Majella plays a "simple melody", based on a simplified form of Eve's formula. Lucifer jerks awake, enchanted. However, soon Lucifer begins "dying" from this entrancing melody. Majella begins playing the piano keys with her arms, legs and buttocks. After Lucifer has apparently expired (ironically, Lucifer's own companion has "killed" him!), she walks around the piano making magical gestures and then finally departs. However, Lucifer secretly sneaks a wink at the audience at the end, signifying that he will be back.

Further Analysis and Listening Guide

Scene 2: KATHINKAs GESANG (or LUZIFERs REQUIEM) (Kathinka's Chant)
     In KATHINKA's Chant as LUCIFER's Requiem, a cat-like flautist named "Kathinka" and 6 strangely-garbed percussionists (representing the "6 Mortal Senses": Sight, Hearing, Smell, Taste, Touch and Thinking) perform a ritual of 24 "Exercises" aimed at a giant piano-coffin containing Lucifer's corpse (the 6 Mortal Senses are situated around the audience). There is no dialogue in this scene.

     After a "Salute" fanfare, Kathinka performs the Exercises while navigating around two large mandala-diagrams with musical figures of each of the Exercises on them. This virtuoso flute solo is accompanied by the 6 Mortal Senses on metal plates, whistling, and playing "magic sounds" (small instruments, strapped to their bodies). After the 13th Exercise an "Exchange of the Senses" occurs, in which Kathinka suspends her flute in mid-air, and then rearranges the distribution of metal plates amongst the 6 Mortal Senses (who only play whistles during this interlude).
The color for SATURDAY is BLACK.

     After the remaining Exercises are complete, Kathinka performs a "Release of the Senses" (a cadenza-like recap of the Exercises) while moving in a spiral. During her spiral-dance she "releases" each of the 6 Mortal Senses who, one by one, drop their sound plates into LUCIFER's coffin-grave and then "fly away". The scene finishes with "Exit" (Kathinka climbs into Lucifer's grave, playing and singing), "11 Trombone Tones" (unseen flute-blown trumpet tones with "witches laughter") and finally the mysterious "Scream" (which could have any of 3 different meanings: reincarnation, death, or "entrance into Light"). At the end, four mysterious figures cover the piano-coffin in a flag with the Lucifer symbol (above right).

Further Analysis and Listening Guide

Scene 3: LUZIFERs TANZ (Lucifer's Dance)
     As the sounds of a giggling male chorus resonate in the hall, the piano grave from KATHINKA's GESANG erupts and Lucifer (portrayed by a "stilt-dancer") rises up. He first summonses a conductor by striking sparks from the floor with a giant hoof, and then conjures up a giant disembodied face, its eyes, nose and other features painted on black veils (behind which groups of symphonic brass and wind musicians sit).

     Lucifer calls out: "If you, Man, have never learned from Lucifer how the spirit of contradiction and independence distorts the expression of the face...LEFT EYEBROW DANCE!" and rips off the LEFT EYEBROW veil, revealing one small group of wind instrumentalists. This ensemble (flute, basset-horn, percussion) plays a hypnotic "dance" based on melodic figures from the LICHT super-formula. This procedure repeats for 10 instrumental groups, each representing a part of the human face (with introductions from Lucifer). In between each facial wind-band dance, short tutti "dance jams" between all of the so-far-revealed groups of the face take place as bridges. As Lucifer announces each face group, he moves in an exaggerated character pantomime, taking poses as an "ecstatic African dancer, a bizarre automaton, a vulgar boxer, a jaunty transvestite, obscene witch, martial arts giant", etc...

     During the UPPER-LIP DANCE, the protagonist from DONNERSTAG aus LICHT, Michael, appears in golden armor with a piccolo trumpet and plays a musical PROTEST. During the following tutti section, Michael is able to subdue the giant face orchestra and enchant it with a cadenza. However when the orchestra tutti resumes, Lucifer kicks Michael down, causing the giant face to feel pity and begin weeping in a TEAR-DANCE (the "tears" are represented by naked bodies coming down a rope from the giant face's left eye).

     Michael tries to get back up, but suddenly the cat-like figure of Kathinka (from Scene 2's KATHINKA's GESANG) erupts from the mouth of the giant face and plays a piccolo flute solo as part of the TIP-OF-THE-TONGUE DANCE, accompanied by a "ribbon-dancer" who wears 14 black ribbons over a skeleton costume. In the following RIBBON DANCE, the ribbon-dancer gradually tears off his ribbons and uses them to spell out SALVE SATANELLI ("Greetings, Satan's children") on the stage floor. Following this, the CHIN-DANCE begins, during which Kathinka and the ribbon-dancer retreat back down the throat of the giant face.

     Lucifer's stilt-dancer form moves offstage, but his bass vocalist incarnation then appears from the giant face's forehead in a cloud of smoke and sings: " cannot turn your countenance in harmony - towards the LIGHT." A final full orchestral tutti begins, interrupted by Lucifer finally singing the full LUCIFER formula: "If you have tried out your 10-part face in all dissonances, grimace rhythms, it will decay, empty and hollow, before it resurrects on SUNDAY in the realm of the souls, invisible to human souls."

     At this point during the opera the orchestra stages a strike and the scene ends in chaos.

Further Analysis and Listening Guide

LUZIFERs ABSCHIED (Lucifer's Farewell)
     The "Farewell" scene of SAMSTAG takes place at a church, both inside and in the outer courtyard. A male chorus situated in 2 columns around the audience intones St. Francis of Assisi's "Lodi delle Virtù" ("Hymn to the Virtues"). Lucifer, as a "Diabolical Wind Player" playing trombone, abruptly interrupts the proceedings and causes chaos. Eventually a sack from Heaven (filled with coconuts) arrives. The men file outside and set a wild bird free. Then they move to a stone slab and begin smashing coconuts on it. Finally they leave in a procession, with humorous dance steps, intoning the "Hymn to the Virtues".

Further Analysis and Listening Guide

Lucifer's Day
     Where Thursday From Light graduated from a domestic drama to a global odyssey to a cosmic festival, Saturday From Light expands in a parallel, but more "internal" fashion. The three Acts can be characterized as expanding "horizontally" from a soloist's dream to a sextet resurrection ritual to a symphonic carnival.

     The spacially-enhanced elements of the Thursday Farewell (trumpet quintet) are continued in Lucifer's Greeting, as the amassed low brass forces perform mostly Lucifer motifs in four groups situated around the performance hall. Act 1 proceeds with Lucifer relaxing into a dream, as if he had just returned from his challenge to Michael at the end of FESTIVAL (Thursday From Light's Act 3). The shocking strike which ends the opera proper has a similar effect to that of a film strip burning up at the climax of a movie (the concept of a "real life" element interrupting the LICHT saga also occurs in WELT-PARLAMENT). Lucifer's Farewell continues the theme of spacial musical forces, but includes actual performer movement around the audience, eventually leading the attendees outside the church venue for its inscrutable (but "smashing") finish. The table below lists the instrumental forces for each scene.

SATURDAY GREETING 26 Brass instruments and 2 Percussionists
LUCIFER'S DREAM Bass vocal soloist and piano (PIANO PIECE XIII)
Flute and 6 Percussionists
LUCIFER'S DANCE Bass vocal soloist, piccolo trumpet, piccolo flute, symphonic wind band
LUCIFER'S FAREWELL Men's chorus, organ, 7 trombones, bells, gong

     One enticing idea which occurs to me is that in KATHINKAS CHANT, the ending "Scream" can be interpreted as Lucifer going "into the Light" ("the Night of the transition to the LIGHT"). If the LICHT opera cycle is indeed cyclic (and Lucifer was Michael from a previous LICHT cycle), this option gives even Lucifer ("dark Michael") a chance at redemption. In any case, SAMSTAG aus LICHT is one of the most enjoyable of all seven LICHT operas, especially for those who appreciate their opera...macabre.

Released on Stockhausen Edition CD 34: SAMSTAG aus LICHT (SATURDAY from LIGHT)
  • SAMSTAGs-GRUSS (Saturday Greeting/Lucifer's Greeting) for 26 brass instruments and 2 percussionists (1984), feat. members of the University of Michigan Symphony Band, rec. 1984.
  • Scene 1: LUZIFERs TRAUM (KLAVIERSTÜCK XIII)/(LUCIFER's Dream, or Piano Piece 13) for bass vocalist and piano (1981), feat. Majella Stockhausen (pno) and Matthias Hölle (bs), rec. 1981.
  • Scene 2: KATHINKAs GESANG als LUZIFERs REQUIEM (KATHINKA's Chant as LUCIFER's Requiem) for flute solo or with 6 percussionists (1982-83), feat. Kathinka Pasveer and the Kolberg Percussion Ensemble, rec. 1983.
  • Scene 3: LUZIFERs TANZ (LUCIFER'S DANCE) for symphonic/wind orchestra, with piccolo trumpet, piccolo flute and bass vocalist (1983), feat. Kathinka Pasveer, Markus Stockhausen, Matthias Hölle and the University of Michigan Symphony Band, rec. 1984.
  • Scene 4: LUZIFERs ABSCHIED (LUCIFER'S FAREWELL) for male chorus with chapel percussion, organ/synth, tam-tam and 7 trombones (live or tape) (1982), feat. the Cologne Handel Collegium and Michael Struck (tb), rec. 1984.
The Evolution of Macro- and Micro-Time Relations in Stockhausen's Recent Music (Jerome Kohl)
Into the Middleground: Formula Syntax in Stockhausen's Licht (Jerome Kohl)
Time and Light (Jerome Kohl)
Stockhausen on Opera (Interview with Jerome Kohl)
Albrecht Moritz article on SAMSTAG AUS LICHT
SAMSTAG AUS LICHT Staging 2013 (photos)


World premiere of MICHAELs REISE UM DIE ERDE, Milan 1981
Thursday from Light (1977-1980)
for 3 solo voices, 8 solo instrumentalists (trumpet, bassett horn (alto clarinet), trombone, piano, clarinet, contrabass, saxophone duo), 3 solo dancers, choir, orchestra and tape.

     In DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT (Thursday From Light) Michael, the cosmic protagonist of LICHT, is portrayed as a human being, growing from a child to a man. He then undertakes a journey "around the Earth" until he encounters his celestial soul-mate, Eve. Eventually, he rejoins his compatriots in the stars, where he describes his experiences to the other heavenly beings, despite the heckling of LICHT's antagonist character, Lucifer.

     DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT is the first installment of Stockhausen's LICHT (Light) opera cycle. Begun in 1977, this production started with a modern trumpet concerto which ultimately became the corpus of DONNERSTAG's Act 2, MICHAELs REISE UM DIE ERDE (Michael's Journey Around The Earth). By this time, Stockhausen's son Markus was becoming quite proficient at trumpet, and Stockhausen's decision to write a work featuring this instrument might have been a response to this (see Markus' personal account here). 

     Continuing to work from his LICHT "super-formula" (a 3-tiered theme developed in 1977 while in Japan), Stockhausen used his own experiences as a war-time youth to inform the bulk of DONNERSTAG's 1st Act (MICHAELs JUGEND, Michael's Youth), which premiered in 1979. This was followed by the premiere of Act 3 (MICHAELs HEIMKEHR, Michael's Homecoming, 1980) which, of the three Acts, is probably the closest to being "operatic" in the traditional sense (featuring solo and choral vocal elements backed by orchestra). The entire opera was first staged in its complete form in 1981 at La Scala in Milan (including the instrumental Greeting and Farewell intro and closing sequences). Since then, DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT has been mounted at Covent Garden (England, 1985) and in Basel (Switzerland, 2016). 

     Being the first of the LICHT operas, its primary function is to introduce the protagonist Michael and his musical theme, the MICHAEL "formula". Despite the inclusion of many complex, often seemingly-inscrutable scenic elements, Thursday From Light probably has the most straightforward plot of all of the LICHT operas. It can essentially be summed up as "boy grows up against bleak odds, travels around the world, meets girl, victoriously returns home, spreads message of good will".
DONNERSTAGs GRUSS (Thursday Greeting, Michael's Greeting)
     This is the opening instrumental  "Greeting" for DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT. It is a brass-driven ensemble piece (with rhythmic piano and percussion accompaniment), meant to be played "in the foyer" of the opera venue, and acts as a kind of fanfare overture to the opera proper. Besides opening with a fanfare presentation of the signature Michael formula, this 3-part sequence anticipates some of the "world musics" later explored in Act 2.

Act 1: MICHAELs JUGEND (Michael's Youth)
     The first Act's Scene 1, KINDHEIT (Childhood), describes the youth of the main character Michael, as he is torn between the conflicting emotional and intellectual desires of his mother (Eve/EVA) and father (Lucifer/LUCIMON). This scene notably features many elements drawn from Stockhausen's own childhood in wartime Germany. For some, it's a little difficult to immediately "take" to this opening scene (especially without the libretto). The text-heavy drama is frankly disturbing, and the three vocal soloists are supported primarily by pianissimo tapes of muted brass drones and intermittent ambient choral textures (the orchestra only appears during Acts 2 and 3 of DONNERSTAG). A trombone, trumpet and bassett-horn do make brief conversational appearances, but for the most part this first half hour of DONNERSTAG may seem a bit stark. However, considering the subject matter (including nationalism, postpartum depression, infant mortality, etc), it nonetheless feels appropriate.

     Scene 2, MONDEVA (Moon-Eve), is generally lighter, and describes Michael's encounter with a musical "space-being" named MONDEVA (Moon-Eve, a costumed basset-horn player), and their attempts to communicate and learn from each other through the Michael and Eve melodies.  However, in bleak "parallel dramas", Michael's institutionalized mother is euthanized, and his father dies in battle.

     In Scene 3, EXAM, Michael reveals his past experiences to a panel of four judges (played in part by the Mother and Father actors from the previous Scenes) in order to "graduate to his next state". He does this by performing three "recitals", each showcasing a different aspect of his character (voice, trumpet, dance) and is accompanied throughout by a solo pianist (as is done in a typical conservatory recital/exam). In the 1st "exam", the Michael vocalist sings while taking on the role of his gentle mother. In the 2nd exam, a "Michael trumpeter" pantomimes the forbidding, reality-oriented life of his father. The final exam revisits elements from the 1st Scene from Michael's own point of view, experienced through voice, trumpet and piano (the dancer is actually the main focus of the exam, but is of course inaudible on CD).

Act 2: MICHAELs REISE UM DIE ERDE (Michael's Journey Around The Earth)
     After a brief entrance and a "farewell" to his previous life, Michael departs on a global odyssey. He pops in and out of different hatches on a giant globe of the Earth, in effect "traveling" through seven world music traditions and portraying Michael's experience as a being of the Earth as a whole. Near the 7th Station, Michael hears the basset-horn call of Eve, an incarnation of MONDEVA, whom he'd met in the 1st Act.  Michael leaves the globe to pursue Eve. A pair of mischievous wind players appear, but they are soon reprimanded by somber brass.  At the end, Michael  reappears with Eve and they play intertwining melodies as they "ascend" together. This highly entertaining instrumental Act involves a fair amount of choreography from the instrumentalists (Michael himself is practically airborne the entire time).

     From a musical standpoint, this Act states the Michael theme, atomizes it, and then re-imagines it in the context of several world music traditions - for example Balinese, Japanese temple music, American jazz, German post-war avant-garde, etc. Michael and Lucifer's themes tend to "do battle" in the first half of the Act, but the final section culminates in a playful dialogue between the Michael and Eve formulas.

Act 3: MICHAELs HEIMKEHR (Michael's Homecoming)
     In the 3rd Act, Michael has returned to a heavenly plane where he is welcomed by yet another incarnation of Eve. The first part of the Act, FESTIVAL, presents highly ritualized sequences involving lighted gifts, images and other heavenly phenomena. Musically, this sequence is dominated by declamatory figures from the Michael and Eve vocal soloists, backed by monolithic block harmonies and "noise" textures from the orchestra and choir.
     Eventually the festival is disrupted when a small globe-shaped gift opens to expel a devil-like incarnation of Lucifer, and the Michael-dancer is subsequently forced to battle with this nefarious intruder (aurally represented by the sounds of "tap-dancing"). After the "devil" has been defeated, yet another incarnation of Lucifer (as vocalist) appears at a balcony seat box to further taunt the assemblage.

     VISION follows, and here the three incarnations of Michael (tenor vocalist, trumpeter and dancer-mime) reflect on Lucifer's mythic origins in a musical-choreographic soliloquy. He then explains that he took on a human form in order to experienced the pain and joy of humanity. During this, seven visions ("shadowplays") are projected on a screen which act as flashback "time-windows" into his Earthly existence and subsequent return to the Heavens. Finally, he proclaims his love for Mankind, ending the opera proper.

DONNERSTAGs Farewell (Thursday Farewell)
     Following the opera conclusion, 5 trumpeters play the Michael theme from the rooftops surrounding the opera house entrance, as the audience departs the performance venue.

Thursday From Light
     Overall, this opera has a trajectory which begins on a relatively mundane and localized premise (family/education), moves to a global setting (a semi-symbolic journey around the Earth), and then ends in a "cosmic" homecoming, with a few somewhat "slapstick" moments thrown in to keep things from becoming too overly-pompous (Michael defeats the Lucifer dragon-devil with the help of the orchestra conductor's baton stick, for example).

     From a musical standpoint, Thursday From Light is a perfect launch point for the entire LICHT opera cycle because it is here that the musical themes of the three main characters (and their thematic formulas) are most clearly presented. All seven LICHT operas have statements and variations of the LICHT themes, but if a listener gets to know the LICHT formulas through DONNERSTAG, that familiarity makes the other operas of the cycle much more musically appealing and meaningful when eventually experienced. As Stockhausen has said at times, the melodies themselves are the characters, and the stage action is essentially a visual and physical manifestation of the musical elements.

     Of course, it's not really expected that a listener will know the Michael, Eve and Lucifer themes by heart after listening to DONNERSTAG aus LICHT just once - these are no Tchaikovsky numbers. However, this aspect is just one of the things which makes these operas so rewarding on repeat visits. For the most part, the bizarre staging of a live production is usually quite enough to occupy one's attention at the opera house on initial auditions. Even after spending years with this opera, I personally still find myself making new connections and finding hidden messages each time I experience it.

     The table below lists the featured soloists and/or instrumental forces for each opera scene.

THURSDAY GREETING 8-piece brass ensemble, piano, 3 percussionists
MICHAEL'S YOUTH: Tenor, Soprano and Bass vocal soloists, 
trumpet, bassett horn,  trombone, piano, dancer,
tapes (INVISIBLE CHOIRS and multi-tracked trumpet, bassett-horn  & trombone)
          CHILDHOOD (featuring Tenor, Soprano and Bass vocal soloists)
          MOON-EVE (feat. Tenor vocal soloist and bassett horn)
          EXAMINATION (feat. Tenor vocal soloist, trumpet and piano (PIANO PIECE XII))
          THE 7 STATIONS
          HALT (feat. trumpet & contrabass duo)
          MISSION (feat. trumpet & bassett horn duo)
          DERISION and CRUCIFIXION (feat. sopr. saxophone duo)
          ASCENSION (feat. trumpet & bassett horn duo)
MICHAEL'S HOME-COMING: Tenor, Soprano and Bass vocal soloists, bassett-horn, trumpet, 
trombone, choir, orchestra, tape (of choir)
          VISION (feat. Tenor vocal soloist, trumpet and dancer)

DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT on Stockhausen Edition CD 30
     This CD features vocal soloists Robert Gambill, Annette Meriweather, Matthias Hölle, and Paul Sperry. Instrumental soloists include Markus Stockhausen (trumpet), Suzanne Stephens (bassett horn), Mark Tezak (trombone), and Majella Stockhausen (piano). The opera ensemble is comprised of the WDR Cologne Choir, the Hilversum Radio Choir and Orchestra, Ensemble InterContemporain, Freies Blaser and Schlagzeugensemble. Peter Eötvös performs Hammond organ and conducts Act 3 (VISION).
  • DONNERSTAGs-GRUSS (Thursday Greeting) for 8 brass, 3 percussionists, and piano (1978), rec. 11/1981.
  • MICHAELs JUGEND (Michael's Youth) for tenor, soprano, bass vocal soloists, trumpet, basset-horn, trombone, piano, elec. organ/synthesizer and tape (ie - UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE/Invisible Choirs - choir and instrument drones) (1979), rec. 5/1980.
  • MICHAELs REISE UM DIE ERDE (Michael's Journey Around the World) for trumpet, basset horn and double-bass soloists with orchestra, rec. 11/1980.
  • MICHAELs HEIMKEHR (Michael's Homecoming) for tenor, soprano, bass vocal soloists, trumpet, basset-horn, trombone, 2 soprano saxophones, elec. organ/synthesizer, choir, orchestra, and tape (UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE/Invisible Choirs) (1980), rec. 6/1980 and 10/1981.
  • DONNERSTAGs ABSCHIED (Thursday Farewell) for 5 trumpets (1980), rec. 1/1982.