|DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT|
REISE UM DIE ERDE
|MICHAEL (Robert Gambill) and MOON-EVE (Suzanne Stephens)|
from a 1980 MONDEVA rehearsal
(from score © www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
(MICHAEL'S Youth, 1st Act of DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT)
for tenor, soprano, bass vocal soloists, trumpet, basset-horn, trombone, piano, elec. organ or synthesizer, tapes (choir and instrument drones)
Additional Works Generated:
No. 49 extract - INVISIBLE CHOIRS for tape (a cappella choir) [50']
No. 49 1/2 - CHILDHOOD for tenor, soprano, bass vocal soloists, trumpet, basset-horn, trombone, tape [ca. 29']
No. 49 1/2 ext. 1 - DANCE LUCEFA! for basset-horn or bass clarinet [6']
No. 49 1/2 ext. 2 - BIJOU for alto flute, bass clarinet (and INVISIBLE CHOIRS tape) [15']
No. 49 2/3 - MOON-EVE for tenor and basset-horn (and optional bass vocal, trombone and INVISIBLE CHOIRS tape) [13']
No. 49 3/4 - EXAMINATION for tenor, trumpet, piano, basset-horn (w optional "jury" (soprano, bass, 2 dancer-mimes)) [22']
No. 49 3/4 extract - PIANO PIECE XII for piano solo (1983) [22']
MICHAELs JUGEND (MICHAEL'S Youth) is the 1st Act of Stockhausen's dramatic music work DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT (Thursday from Light), which was the first-performed entry of his 7-part, 29-hour opera cycle LICHT (Light). LICHT is a work for acoustic and electronic operatic forces, divided into the 7 days of the week (one opera for each day). This opera cycle revolves around 3 archetype characters, MICHAEL, EVE and LUCIFER, and over the 29 hours each of these characters are introduced, come into conflict, face temptation and finally come into union. The music is almost entirely based on a "super-formula", which is a 3-layered melodic-thematic representation of the 3 characters. These formula-themes are together and separately threaded throughout the opera's vocal and instrumental fabric. Story-wise, actors and narrative can (and often do) change from act to act and the libretto text is sometimes made up of non-traditional grammar or even purely phonetic sounds.
In MICHAELs JUGEND, one statement of the MICHAEL formula (top layer of the 3 layer LICHT superformula) is stretched out over the entire Act. This is done through extreme rhythmic augmentation and/or by establishing tonal centers around a MICHAEL formula note. Stretched between each note of this 64-minute version of the MICHAEL formula, a faster, shorter statement of the MICHAEL formula occurs as well.
The final scene, EXAMEN, has 3 "Exams", and in each one the 3-layered LICHT superformula is fully stated, but in a greatly elaborated form. In this case, the durations are not necessarily lengthened, instead variations on each melodic fragment of the formulas extend the superformula throughout an Exam's duration. Each of these Exam subscenes also rotates the registers of the 3 formula layers. Additionally, some sections feature additional layers added to the 3-part construction. For example, in the last "Sunday limb" measures of one iteration, the MICHAEL and EVE Nuclear formulas are added as additional layers, to reinforce the idea of Sunday being the day of "mystical union" between MICHAEL and EVE.
DONNERSTAG's 1st Act, MICHAEL's JUGEND, has 3 scenes: KINDHEIT ("Childhood", a portrayal of the protagonist MICHAEL as a youth torn between parents in a dysfunctional marriage), MONDEVA ("MOON-EVE", an encounter with an other-worldly alien who communicates through song) and EXAMEN ("Examination", an inquisition-like scene where MICHAEL reviews his childhood in order to attend advanced music school). Much of KINDHEIT's first and second scenes have elements from Stockhausen's own youth and family life.
Scene 1 - KINDHEIT / CHILDHOOD
In Scene 1, KINDHEIT, MICHAEL is portrayed by a tenor vocal soloist, while his MOTHER (named EVE/EVA) and FATHER (named LUCIMON) are portrayed by a soprano and bass. Three instruments are linked to these characters: trumpet for MICHAEL, basset-horn for MOTHER and trombone for FATHER. The scene also requires a female dancer, LUCEFA, who is meant to be EVE's reflection in physical dance. Two ambient background tapes are also faded in and out throughout the Act, one consisting of a trumpet, basset-horn and trombone playing overtone drones, and the other a multi-tracked acapella choir singing extracts from religious texts as well as tongue clicks (with a brief looping clarinet ensemble section in the middle) with the title UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE (INVISIBLE CHOIRS).
|Sequence||Dialogue / Action||Music Synopsis|
|0:00: A background drone of
muted overtone notes from trumpet, basset-horn and trombone fill the
2:00: MICHAEL runs back and forth between the soprano MOTHER and bass FATHER, who both harmonize with the basset-horn and trombone pitches.
3:21: Eve & Michael echo each other.
Invisible Choir tape begins
|1||0:00: On the left half of the stage, MOTHER teaches MICHAEL words through recitation, starting from "ma - ma" and ending up with the complete Days of the Week. MICHAEL also intermittently hits the floor with a toy hammer. In a tandem scene to the (right) side, FATHER teaches (to the audience) multiplication tables and history at a school blackboard. This eventually leads to broader figures.||Michael/Mother duo with Father solo|
|2:35: MICHAEL runs to FATHER singing the newly-learned Days of the Week. FATHER attempts to teach MICHAEL a patriotic German song, but MICHAEL says it's "too difficult" and runs away.||Michael/Father duo|
|3:05: FATHER, accompanied by a half-hidden trombone (an accented musical reflection of FATHER), admires his uniform in the mirror and pretends to shoot and cook a rabbit.||Father/Trombone duo|
|2||0:00: MOTHER and MICHAEL return. MOTHER sits on a stool and MICHAEL runs over to FATHER who offers him some of the cooked rabbit. He is surprised to find out that it is actually a fried cat.||Vocal trio|
|0:33: FATHER proceeds to teach MICHAEL how to pray. MOTHER takes out a toy basset-horn and is accompanied by a trilling basset-horn player (a musical reflection of MOTHER). MICHAEL returns to MOTHER's side in fascination, obtains the toy horn and returns to FATHER.||Bassett-horn joins Mother
Trombone joins Father
|1:21: FATHER gives MICHAEL an airgun to replace the toy horn. He also gives MICHAEL a trumpet, after which a brief trumpet passage is played (by MICHAEL's musical reflection). They leave the stage in order to go hunting for wild game.||Trumpet joins Michael|
|3||0:00: MOTHER opens her skirt and
a dancer, LUCEFA, appears (MOTHER's reflection in dance, with a name formed out of "Lucifer" and "Eva"). She
sings and claps to LUCEFA to dance for MICHAEL, and expresses her
happiness. The dancer's steps syncopate with MOTHER's
1:07: INVISIBLE CHOIR tongue clicks.
|Mother & Lucefa duo
Invisible Choirs tongue clicks
|4||0:00: When MICHAEL and FATHER return (accompanied by the trombonist), MOTHER sings of her love for MICHAEL, the wonderful musician. MICHAEL is entranced by the dancer, while FATHER has LUCEFA jump over his rifle barrel.||Mother/Lucefa duet continues, joined by Michael/Father duet with trombone (eventually becoming a loose quintet)|
|0:59: LUCEFA kisses MICHAEL and runs away, as MOTHER giggles strangely and becomes silent. FATHER takes MICHAEL away on a bicycle to go hunting again. The trombonist withdraws.||Michael/Father/trombone|
Hunting scene: FATHER and MICHAEL shoot (signaled by bongo strikes) and catch
a deer and a rabbit. They return and FATHER goes into a school
house as MICHAEL waits outside.
3:24: Michael shoots a blackbird and a chicken (the MICHAEL trumpeter reappears). LUCEFA runs across the back of the stage and after MICHAEL takes a shot at her as well, she runs away screaming. The trumpeter disappears and MICHAEL becomes quiet.
4:30: A brief interlude of just the drone instruments ensues.
|Loose duet between Father and
Michael solo, joined by trumpet and cackling "Lucefa-fowl", running away.
Instrumental drone tape, sigh/footsteps
|5||0:00: At home, MOTHER gives birth to a girl whom she and FATHER (addressed as LUCIMON) name Kathrina. She then gives birth to a boy whom they name Hermann. After arguing about money and fidelity issues, MOTHER begins acting strangely (probably a form of extreme postpartum depression?) and tries to throw herself from the window as FATHER asks if she loves him.||Mother & Father duet|
|1:42: MOTHER and FATHER dialogue. The basset-horn and trombone later withdraw.||Mother/Bassett-horn duet with Father/trombone (quartet on EVE/LUCIFER "nuclear" formulas)|
|6||0:00: MOTHER begs to be allowed
to kill herself while MICHAEL holds on to her sobbing. FATHER
urges her downstairs so that he can call a doctor. He is concerned
about what the neighbors will think. He counts to 11 while stamping
A FATHER-trombone makes a brief sputter. Neighbors peek in the door. MOTHER calls the cellar "Hell" and the attic "Heaven". MICHAEL expresses his fear and FATHER tries to calm her, puzzled by her sudden madness. FATHER considers calling for "...an ambulance."
|Trio in strained, desperate tones (brief trombone growl/sputter)|
|1:50: FATHER leaps onto the attic stairs and tells MOTHER in a solo, "EVE, wife, up there is no Heaven, Heaven only comes after we've died..then we shall be redeemed."||Father solo (without backing tape)|
|3:11: MOTHER begs MICHAEL: "My Son of Heaven, stay always faithful to music!" FATHER counts to himself furiously and tells someone to call an ambulance, while MICHAEL begs MOTHER not to go away, "No!"||Drone tape resumes, trio with
(sextet on broad formula figures: MOTHER's basset-horn, FATHER's trombone and MICHAEL's trumpet return, and with their vocal counterparts play fragments from the EVE, MICHAEL and LUCIFER formulas and nuclear formulas)
|4:14: The INVISIBLE CHOIR briefly begins tongue-clicking again. Orderlies come and put MOTHER in a straitjacket. They cart her away to the Mental Hospital across the street. MICHAEL gazes in horror as FATHER tries to comfort him with a promise that MOTHER will soon come back home.||Mother/Father tandem solos 1 (tongue clicks)|
|4:58: MOTHER attempts to escape but the windows are barred. FATHER recites math tables to himself.||Mother/Father tandem solos 2 (choir hissing and Father counting)|
|5:32: MOTHER mimes caressing her 3 children. FATHER, dressed untidily, acts drunken.||Mother/Father tandem solos 3 (Father hiccups)|
|6:01: A doctor enters, MOTHER flirts with him. FATHER mimes hunting hare.||Mother/Father tandem solos 4 (hunting)|
Hospital orderlies throw MOTHER into a cold shower as she screams "No,
devils, bones of Satan, sex-maniacs! Let me go! Do not touch me! That'd suit
you fine, a beautiful woman like me!"
Meanwhile FATHER mimes playing with the 9-month old Herrmann-child. Herrmann's laughter suddenly stops and FATHER listens to the invisible child's heart, horrified.
|Mother/Father tandem solos 5 (water therapy)|
|7:02: MOTHER is put back into solitary wearing a straitjacket, as FATHER prays to Mary.||Mother/Father tandem solos 6 (prayer to Mary)|
|7:49: MOTHER is returned to her cell where she calls, "MICHAEL!" FATHER in his underwear conducts an imaginary school choir.||Mother cries "Michael", Father reacts to long tones from choir/tape drones, ending with clarinet loops|
Scene 2 - MONDEVA / Moon - EVE
The 2nd scene follows without a break and focuses on MICHAEL encountering and attempting to seduce a bird-like alien, "Moon - EVE", heard performing on a basset-horn. At the same time, on the far right and left edges of the stage there are two parallel scenes taking place, portraying the fates of MICHAEL's MOTHER and FATHER (institutionalized euthanasia and death in battle, respectively).
MICHAEL & MONDEVA0:00: A fabulous creature, MOON-EVE, with a moon face, basset-horn, 7 clawed fingers and 5 clawed toes, hides amongst a patch of birch trees. She plays the beginning of the EVE formula interspersed with flutter-tongue and key noises.
1:14: MICHAEL enters, accompanied by 2 flying swallows (who are represented by a clarinet loop in the distance) and joined by the INVISIBLE CHOIR (S/T/A/B).
1:25: MICHAEL sees MOON-EVE and asks her name.
MOTHERMOTHER is hums to herself while sitting alone at the mental hospital.
FATHERA FATHER-mime and a trombone player fight invisible foes in a war, as FATHER calls out slogans (below). Shots (from a struck bongo drum) ring out and the FATHER-mime falls to the ground to evade them.
"Down with the Enemy!"
"Fight for the FATHERland!"
"Sacrifice for your country!"
"Protect the loved ones!"
"Honor wife and children with a hero's death....!"
Silver-beak? Or perhaps you are a Luno-Oiseau-saur? Rattle-bird? Do tell me
MOON-EVE plays the EVE nuclear formula.
"Sorry? Whew - what a long name. Could you please say your name a little bit slower?"
3:24: MOON-EVE begins playing the EVE nuclear formula 30 times slower. After 7 notes...
"Stop! This is too slow. No one can remember this!"
4:32: MICHAEL examines MOON-EVE's 7 fingered hands and MOON-EVE plays the EVE nuclear formula in 7 segments, and then complete.
5:17: MICHAEL inspects MOON-EVE's 5-toes and MOON-EVE plays the EVE nuclear formula in 5 segments.
"7 and 5 make 12 - dodecadigital! MOON-EVE comes from the 12th planet!"
MICHAEL counts her 7 fingers and 5 toes again MOON-EVE plays the 12 notes of
the EVE nuclear formula.
"Listen you little dodecadigited Moon-dove - Couldn't you just speak to me in a normal Earthly tempo?"
|MOTHER is given a
lethal injection and her humming stops.
The doctor signs a death certificate and her body is carted away on a stretcher.
than anything I'd love to synchronize with you once...for example, like
this." MICHAEL begins pinching
MOON-EVE's nipples in order to cue a rhythm, which MOON-EVE plays.
"1 - 2 - 3, Lune...Eva, MOON-EVE...Sirisu...7 little fingers, Luneva, MOON-EVE from the 12th star! Sirisu!"
|The FATHER-mime falls down dead ("EVA!") and a men's choir begins singing: "I had a comrade
once..." As the FATHER-mime is carted
away on a stretcher, FATHER and the trombonist disappear in a trapdoor.
The men's choir begins to slowly sing numbers, from 1 to 13.
begins playing fragments of the MICHAEL formula with the EVE formula.
A strange rushing sound begins swirling around the room.
"You resound in me - EVE, help me to fulfill my mission!"
A spaceship descends with a claw arm reaching for MOON-EVE.
"Love in your sensual physical beauty..Sirius-music. Sirisu - Mun-diva - Witness of the more beautiful children of Man. You Star-woman - I keep you in my heart."
As MOON-EVE transitions more and more to the MICHAEL formula she repels MICHAEL's advances.
10:38: MOON-EVE eventually disappears with the spaceship in a flurry of basset-horn key noises. The spaceship's rushing noises fade away.
Scene 3 - EXAMEN / Exams
In the 3rd scene, a jury made up of the actors previously portraying FATHER, MOTHER, LUCEFA and the FATHER-mime sit at a table, as MICHAEL is "examined" (tested through recitals) in 3 subscenes. In these subscenes, MICHAEL portrays his MOTHER's life, his FATHER's life and then himself, each time using a different "art" (tenor voice, trumpet and dance).
|Markus Stockhausen, Majella Stockhausen, Suzanne Stephens, Karlheinz Stockhausen in rehearsal for EXAMEN. |
(from score © www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
Below is a 1990 WDR TV production of EXAMEN directed by José Montes-Baquer with Stockhausen's input featuring Julian Pike (tenor); Markus Stockhausen (trumpet); and Michèle Noiret (dancer) as MICHAEL, Suzanne Stephens (basset-horn) as the Basset-Horn Angel, Majella Stockhausen (piano) as the Accompanist, and Annette Meliwearher (soprano); Nicholas Isherwood (bass); Elizabeth Clarke, Alain Louafi (mimes) as the Jury.
|EXAMEN Pts. 1 & 2||EXAMEN Pt. 3|
|(Stockhausen Edition CD 31 Cover © www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)|
The tape piece which accompanies the bulk of KINDHEIT is faded in and out of specific scenes for generally brief moments at 35 points in the score. However it is also a 50-minute long work in its own right. The texts are extracts from religious texts "Judgment Day" (from the "Ascent of Moses") in Sections 1-7, "The End of Time" (from the "Apocalypse of Baruch") in Sections 9-25, and "Hymn" (from "Leviticus") in Sections 28-35, sung in Hebrew and German and with the more bloody parts excised.
|Section 8 Page 1|
There are 35 sections in UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE. The first 5 sections are somewhat described here:
|1||S - slow dyad chant
A - swooping dyad figures
B - even rhythm dyad chant
|2||S - long tones in 2 groups
fading in and out
A - swooping dyad figures
B - even rhythm dyad chant
|3||S - long tones with rhythmic
A/T - rising/falling glissandi with held tones
B - even rhythm dyad chant, slower
(then brief reprise of 2)
|4||S - more rhythmic subdivision in
A - swooping dyad figures
T - rising/falling glissandi
B - even rhythm dyad chant, ritardando
|5||S - slow dyad chant
A - swooping dyad figures
B - even rhythm rolled dyad chant, slow
|Section||Dur.||Voices||No. of Staves|
|6||0:45||S(2)AB, with silent rest in middle||4|
|7||1:14||S(2)AB, then Bass vowel drone at 0:32||4|
|8||1:29||SATB - Tongue clicks changing speed||4|
|13||1:29||S(3)A(2)T(2)B(4), glissandi in 2 voices||11|
|15||0:41||S(3)A(2)T(2)B(4),glissandi in 1 soprano||11|
|16||0:38||S(2)A(2)T(3)B(2), glissandi in AT||9|
|17||1:33||S(3)A(2)T(3)B(4), glissandi in
then Bass vowel drone at 0:12
|18||2:27||Hissing in unison long tones,
ritard., tongue clicks, glissandi
|19||1:08||S(3)A(3)T(4)B(4) with yodels in T||14|
|20||1:41||S(2)A(2)B(4) with yodels in SA,
vowel drones in B
Clarinet - arpeggiated dyads ostinato from 1:15
|21||1:04||S(3)A(2)B(4) with vowel drones
Clarinet - arpeggiated dyads ostinato
|22||0:42||S(2)A(2)B(4) with yodels in SA,
vowel drones in B
Clarinet - arpeggiated dyads ostinato
|23||0:22||S(2)AB(4) with Bass vowel drones||7|
|24||1:22||S(2)AB(4) with changing dynamics and Bass vowel drones||7|
|25||1:14||S(2)AB(4) with Bass vowel drones||7|
|26||6:36||ST toneless "pa",
A slow gliss,
B slow dirge
Clarinet - dyads ostinato returns at 4:22
|27||1:36||toneless wind noises||12|
|29||4:07||S(3)AT(2)B(3), then Bass vowel drone at 1:23||8|
Albrecht Moritz wrote an excellent analysis on his site which is well worth reading.
Work No. 179/Opus 49 1/2 ext. 1 - DANCE LUCEFA! [6']
TANZE LUCEFA! is a solo basset-horn (or bass clarinet) arrangement of the parts sung by MOTHER and her instrumental basset-horn reflection in KINDHEIT's 2nd, 3rd and 4th sections. LUCEFA'a dance steps are also audibly performed.
Work No. 180/Opus 49 1/2 ext. 2 - BIJOU [15']
BIJOU is a duo arrangement for alto flute and basset-horn (INVISIBLE CHOIRS tape, optional) of the parts sung by MOTHER and FATHER in KINDHEIT's 5th and 6th sections.
Work No. 183/Opus 49 3/4 extract - PIANO PIECE XII for piano solo [22']
Written in 1983 and dedicated to his daughter (and pianist) Majella, Piano Work XII is the first of what would become several piano solo works derived from or inspired by LICHT. In this solo piano version of EXAMEN, the original piano part is also enhanced with some of the trumpet parts, and the soloist vocalizes some of the tenor parts. The main idea here is that the 3-tiered LICHT super-formula is explored through elaboration, atomization and augmentation. Future piano pieces in the LICHT universe would also explore the LICHT super-formula of course, but KLAVIERSTÜCK XII probably (I think) has the most even-handed approach to the three theme formulas. More details on how the LICHT super-formula is used in the context of a solo piano piece can be found in LUZIFERs TRAUM (KLAVIERSTÜCK XIII). Aside from that, the textural things which stand out for this work are tremolos, wide arpeggiated figures, slow scalar bass notes and isolated chord clusters, as well as a few instances of playing the insides of the piano with fingernails.
A video of Simon Smith performing KLAVIERSTÜCK XII at the 2015 Stockhausen Courses and Concerts in Kürten can be found here.
A video of Helga Karen performing KLAVIERSTÜCK XII in 2016 can be found here.
KINDHEIT was probably the very first opera scene I'd ever tried to listen to (and not actively avoided!). Its poly-scenic, highly phonetic nature (in German, of course) didn't immediately convert me into an ardent opera-lover (understandably, I think). In fact it was many years before I could really appreciate the work, and the lack of a video of this Act of course made it that much harder (especially the dance-based 3rd Examination). However, after learning of Stockhausen's own upbringing and reading an English translation of the libretto, it's now one of my favorite texts in all of LICHT. The multi-layering of scenes is off-putting at first, but after repeated listening, the polyphony becomes much more meaningful. It's probably one of the most meticulously staged parts of LICHT and every detail has a fascinating resonance. It's also got to be one of the most brutal and gripping portrayals in opera of an imploding family during wartime.
DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT Sound samples, tracks listings and CD ordering
English Libretto (PDF)
DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT Wiki
Sonoloco Review of DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT
Albrecht Moritz on DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT
EXAMEN 2010 production by Le Balcon Pt 1
EXAMEN 2010 production by Le Balcon Pt 2
EXAMEN Sound samples, tracks listings and CD ordering
EXAMEN 1990 DVD
EXAMEN 1990 DVD English introduction (PDF)
UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE Sound samples, tracks listings and CD ordering
UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE Wiki
Sonoloco Review of UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE
Albrecht Moritz on UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE
TANZE LUZEFA! & BIJOU Sound samples, tracks listings and CD ordering
Buy the Score