Wednesday from Light (1995-97)
for flute, basset horn, trumpet, trombone, string quartet, bass vocal (with short-wave radio), choir, orchestra soloists, synthesizer, electronic and concrete music (staged with dancing camel).

     On MITTWOCH (Wednesday), the LICHT Day of Cooperation and Reconciliation, MICHAEL, LUCIFER and EVE attempt to reach common ground through several avenues: an Earthly council meeting on "love", a floating, reality-leaping orchestra, a helicopter string quartet, and a meeting in interstellar space where a strange camel (LUCI-CAMEL) is elected President, and message bearers disperse out into the universe.

     MITTWOCH aus LICHT (Wednesday From Light) is the 6th opera in Karlheinz Stockhausen's "7 day" LICHT (Light) opera cycle, following FREITAG aus LICHT. The first part of MITTWOCH to be composed was the 3rd Scene's HELIKOPTER-STREICHQUARTETT, which was developed from 1992 to 1993, and premiered in Amsterdam in 1995. After the completion of FREITAG in 1994, Stockhausen composed WELT-PARLAMENT (the 1st Scene of MITTWOCH) in 1995 and premiered it in Stuttgart the following year. ORCHESTER-FINALISTEN (Scene 2) and the closing farewell, MITTWOCHs ABSCHIED (the concrete music layer for ORCHESTER-FINALISTEN) were completed in 1996 and premiered that same year in Amsterdam.
     The 4th and final Scene, MICHAELION, was completed in 1997 and premiered the following year in Munich. The electronic music greeting MITTWOCHs GRUSS (also performed by live synthesizer in MICHAELION) was also created in 1997, although its "spatialization scheme" was not finalized until 2003. A full production of MITTWOCH aus LICHT was finally mounted (posthumously) in 2012 by the Birmingham Opera Company in England.

     Like Stockhausen's 2nd and 4th operas (SAMSTAG aus LICHT and DIENSTAG aus LICHT), the four Scenes of MITTWOCH do not have a conventional narrative arc connecting them together. Instead, the theme of "cooperation and reconciliation" between the characters Michael, Eve and Lucifer is achieved through musical, visual, and spatial means. However, the settings for the opera's four Scenes logically progress through escalating environments, from WELT-PARLAMENT's domed skyscraper, to ORCHESTER-FINALISTEN's mid-air "floating" orchestra, to the swooping sky-borne choppers of the HELIKOPTER-STREICHQUARTETT, and finally to the deep space "cosmic parliament" of MICHAELION.
MITTWOCHS-GRUSS (Wednesday Greeting)
     As in FREITAG and MONTAG, the Greeting of MITTWOCH consists of primarily electronic music projected in the opera hall foyer before the opera's 1st Scene (it's worth noting that at this point in time, keyboardist/synthesizer programmer Antonio Pérez Abellán began assisting Stockhausen in the creation of his electronic music works).
Scene 1: WELT-PARLAMENT (World Parliament)
     In a glass dome atop a skyscraper (sometimes with doves and helicopters flying past), members of a choral "world parliament" are called into a meeting by the President to discuss the important issues of the day, and more specifically, to debate the meaning of the word "love". This scene is performed by an a cappella choir (12 individual groups) led by a conducting/singing "President". Vocal soloists sing declarations over a polyrhythmic quilt of syllabic choral textures. Near the end, a janitor interrupts the proceedings and the President is called away to move his car. A coloratura soprano is nominated to take his leading role. At the end, the choir groups sing an ensemble tutti figure. 
Scene 2: ORCHESTER-FINALISTEN (Orchestra Finalists
     In this scene, the orchestra is "floating high up in the air from far away...individual soloists fly closer, each of them in/above their own space..."  These "spaces" are realized through aurally-juxtaposed, environmentally-disparate musique concrete sound effects (projected from tape, and later reprised as MITTWOCHs-ABSCHIED). Orchestra Finalists has no sung dialogue or vocal soloists, but instead features a sequence of 11 short "auditions" by different instrumental soloists performing one after another, aurally-embedded amongst the sound spaces projected by the backing collage tape. MITTWOCH's theme of cooperation is represented by the coming together of the separate soloists into a full orchestral tutti at the end of the scene (performing sequences from their audition solo parts).
Scene 3: HELIKOPTER-STREICHQUARTETT (Helicopter String Quartet)
     The 3rd Scene of MITTWOCH aus LICHT also omits any kind of narrative vocal dialogue. Instead, Stockhausen breaks the "fourth wall" by holding a press conference describing the Scene itself. In short order, four members of a string quartet leave the hall and climb into the cockpits of four waiting helicopters. Each of the helicopters takes off and, for roughly the next half hour, swoops around the sky above the performance hall, with closed circuit video and sound of the performing string players piped into the hall on 4 screens.
     Musically, the string quartet plays energetic, swooping tremolo figures (derived from the LICHT super-formula theme). At the same time, the sound mixer in the hall blends in the close-miked sound of the helicopter rotor blades. This altitude-enabled performance is also punctuated several times by shouted counting from the string players (in different "voices" meant to suggest ethnic vocal styles from around the world). After the helicopters land, the string players return to the stage, and the Moderator interviews the 8 performers (including the 4 helicopter pilots).
     The final Scene of MITTWOCH AUS LICHT is set at the MICHAELION, "a galactic headquarters for delegates of the universe". Like WELT-PARLAMENT, it also features a meeting of various characters from different locales, and here the end result is a consensus leading to the transmission of a message to the universe. It is divided into 3 main sections, with the 2nd and 3rd sections having sub-scenes...
1. PRÄSIDIUM (Presidency): A meeting is to be held to decide on a new Galactic President, who will also hopefully act as an "Operator" (inter-species translator/mediator). In this opening section, vocal soloists, choir groups and instrumental soloists perform in various layers of polyphony, creating solos, duos, trios, etc...
2. LUZIKAMEL (Lucicamel): In this sequence, a talking camel named LUCICAMEL appears and is eventually made Galactic President. The bass vocal inside the camel is essentially the main soloist here, accompanied by a trombone "Trombonut". The choir groups interact with the bass/trombone duo throughout. This section is divided into 5 sub-sections:
  • LUCICAMEL: A costumed bass vocal (Lucicamel) enters the delegation. His companion, a trombone "Trombonut" also arrives.
  • KAKABEL: 7 large colored globes representing the 7 Days of Licht emerge from Lucicamel's rump.
  • SHOE-SHINE SERENADE: Tenors briefly shoe-shine Lucicamel's left foreleg (the bass cries out appreciatively).
  • KAMEL-TANZ (Camel-Dance): Lucicamel, drunk on champagne, sings and dances in several styles (ballerina, "robot", etc...).
  • STIERKAMPF (Bullfight): Lucicamel and the Trombonut engage in a playful "bullfight". Afterwards, the bass vocal sheds his camel costume and takes his place as the new Galactic President.
3. OPERATOR: The Galactic President (now also acting as an "Operator") interprets signals from a shortwave radio for the delegation. He then individually give audiences to 11 delegates (from different alien races) speaking in 11 different languages (characterized by the use of toy instruments). Finally, 6 delegates (with 6 of Lucicamel's globes) go out into the universe, spreading the message of Michael. OPERATOR is divided into 3 sub-sections:
  • OPERATOR: The Galactic President converses with 11 delegates from different alien races by way of radio signals and toy instruments. Midway, a flute solo (THINKI) joins the proceedings.
  • BASSETSU-TRIO/KARUSSEL (Carousel): The Bassetsu Trio (basset horn, trumpet, trombone) perform variations of the LICHT super-formula, as the choral delegate groups mount a carousel. Six vocal soloists ("Space Sextet") move outwards into the audience space. This section ends with a soprano solo. 
  • "MENSCHEN, HÖRT" (RAUM SEXTETT) ("Mankind, Hear" (Space Sextet)): The ensemble disperses in a "magical" way, as the vocal soloists sing the LICHT super-formula.
MITTWOCHS-ABSCHIED (Wednesday Farewell)
     The background tape used to produce the rotating, transforming "environmental spaces" for Orchestra Finalists is projected at the end of the opera performance as the audience departs.
A Cosmic Conjunction
     After the darkest episodes of the LICHT saga (presented in DIENSTAG aus LICHT and FREITAG aus LICHT), MITTWOCH sees Stockhausen swinging back towards more whimsical fare, imbued with optimism. Although the characters of Michael, Eve and Lucifer do not specifically appear on stage as vocal soloists, the instrumental avatars of Michael, Eve and Lucifer (trumpet, basset horn and trombone) do form a very special "Bassetsu" trio in MICHAELION's musical climax. MITTWOCH's theme of cooperation is cleverly embodied in its four Scenes, with each beginning with a sense of disarray or skepticism, but ending in peaceful unity and collaboration. The table below lists the instrumental forces featured in each Scene and the featured performers on the premier recordings on the Stockhausen Edition label.

WORLD PARLIAMENT Vocal soloists, mixed choir.
Rec. 1995/96, feat. South German Radio Choir Stuttgart conducted by Rupert Huber. Soloists include Rupert Huber, Ingrid Ade-Jesemann, Petra Hoffmann, Eva-Maria Schappe, etc.
ORCHESTRA FINALISTS Orchestra soloists with musique concrete tape.
Rec. 1996, feat. members of the ASKO-Ensemble, Amsterdam.
HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET String quartet, helicopters.
The Arditti String Quartet, rec. 1995, 1996.
MICHAELION Vocal soloists, mixed choir, short-wave radio, flute, bassett horn, trumpet, trombone, synthesizer, tape, toys.
Rec. 2012, feat. the London Voices, Michael Leibundgut (bass), Chloe L'Abbe (flute), Fie Schouten (bassett-horn), Marco Blaauw (trumpet), Stephen Menotti (trombone), Antonio Pérez Abellán (synth) and others.

Released on Stockhausen Edition CDs 66, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55

Stockhausen's MITTWOCH aus LICHT
and its sub-works (click to enlarge).
See also LICHT Works.
Additional Arrangements from MITTWOCH aus LICHT Stockhausen Edition CD
FLÖTE from ORCHESTER-FINALISTEN (Flute & Tape, 1995/96) 57 LICHT Chamber Works (Pasveer/Abellán)
BASSETSU for basset-horn (1997) 82 Brass, Reeds, Percussion & Electronics
THINKI for flute (1997) 57 LICHT Chamber Works (Pasveer/Abellán)
KAMEL-TANZ for bass, trombone, synthesizer (1997) 105 Chamber Works (New Recordings from 2011 to 2015)
KLAVIERSTÜCK XVIII (Wednesday Formula) for synthesizer (2004) 79 Percussion & Electronics
MITTWOCH-FORMEL (Wednesday Formula) for 3 percussionists (2005) 79 Percussion & Electronics
LICHT-RUF (CALL from LIGHT, 1995) 64 Electronic and Concrete Music

2012 Birmingham Production (photos)


Friday from Light (1991-1994)
for soprano, baritone and bass vocal soloists, flute, basset horn, children’s orchestra, children’s choir, 12 choir singers, synthesizer, tape (staged with 12 pairs of dancer-mimes).

     FREITAG is the Day of Temptation where LUCIFER attempts to tempt EVE into joining his revolution against Heaven. At first EVE resists, but the children of LUCIFER and the children of EVE meet and play together. However a Children's War soon shatters the union.

Johannes Cohen, 1995
     FREITAG aus LICHT (Friday From Light) is the 5th opera in Karlheinz Stockhausen's "7 day" LICHT (Light) opera cycle, following DIENSTAG aus LICHT. The composition of the opening and closing electronic music sequences (FREITAGs-GRUSS and FREITAGs-ABSCHIED) began in 1991 and was completed in 1994. The vocal and electronic music "Sound Scene" interludes distributed throughout the main opera (PAARE vom FREITAG) were created in 1992. The composition of the vocal, choral and instrumental "Real Scenes" took place throughout 1991 to 1994. Stockhausen's progress on FREITAG aus LICHT was sometimes temporarily halted due to work necessary for the staged premiere production of DIENSTAG aus LICHT, as well as the creation of the HELIKOPTER-STREICHQUARTETT (Helicopter String Quartet), later to be included in the next LICHT opera, Wednesday From Light.

     FREITAG is the Day of Temptation, where the LICHT antagonist Lucifer (here represented by the character "Ludon") attempts to lure the female protagonist Eve into bonding with his son, "Caino", and joining his revolution against Heaven (and the hero Michael). Distributed between the staged narrative scenes are somewhat disturbing (but sensuous) "Sound Scenes", featuring pairs of frolicking dancers dressed as bizarre animate and inanimate objects. These Couples are aurally heard as distorted blends of human, animal and mechanical sounds. Eventually hybrid "children" are borne from these Couples. Throughout, the underlying electronic music conveys a sense of menace and foreboding.

     Representing a more "human" force, the soprano Eve is accompanied instrumentally by her somewhat more light-hearted companions "Elu" and "Lufa" (a pair of earthy basset horn and flute soloists). The drama between Eve and Ludon comes to a head when a "children's war" erupts between their respective children's choir groups - dramatically staged with toy laser weapons and a giant, flame-breathing rhinoceros. At the end, the Hybrid children of the Sound Scene Couples peacefully float away in a Choir Spiral.

     This is the electronic music used for the audience arrival and departure "Greeting" and "Farewell". This same tape is employed during the main opera scenes as a supporting electronic sound layer.

Friday Greeting and Friday Farewell Electronic Music: Further Analysis and Listening Guide 

FREITAG-VERSUCHUNG (Friday Temptation)
     The dramatic arc of Friday From Light is related through ten vocal scenes ("Real Scenes") grouped into two acts. These plot scenes are separated by the more abstract "Sound Scenes" in which selected pairs of dancers  costumed as related animal and mechanical figures) pantomime exotic sexual activities in sync with the electronic music ("Couples of Friday") projected from 8 speakers. Examples of these paired couples (12 in total) include a man and woman, a cat and a dog, a photocopy machine and a typewriter, a race car and its driver, etc...
  • ANTRAG (Proposal), featuring soprano, bass, flute, basset horn (quartet): Eve (followed by "Elu" (her basset horn companion) and "Lufa" (her flute companion)), emerges descending a rocky path. Lucifer (in the form of "Ludon") greets her, and proposes that she "yields" to his son, "Caino". Eve is doubtful, but they arrange a further meeting to introduce their respective children. In general, this is a fairly subdued scene with contrapuntal dialogue figures in broad (but foreboding) gestures.
  • KINDER-ORCHESTER (Children's Orchestra)/KINDER-CHOR (Children's Choir)/KINDER-TUTTI (Children's Tutti), featuring soprano, bass, children's orchestra, children's choir, flute, basset horn, synthesizer: Eve (with Elu & Lufa) arrives with her children (dressed in white), who arrive playing Western concert instruments. Ludon then arrives with his children's choir (wearing black and red garments), who shake and rattle African rhythm instruments. A "Synthibird" (synthesizer accompanist) also appears. Eve and her young entourage (including Elu and Lufa) play for Ludon's children, accompanied by Synthibird. This opening musical sequence is in a brisker tempo and is based on ensemble melodic figures, supported by restless synthesizer accents. Afterwards, Ludon's children are impressed, and applaud with their percussion instruments. Ludon's children's choir then sings, also accompanied by Synthibird. During this sequence, each of Ludon's 24 children offer brief, playful solos (Ludon also has a "teaching moment" solo sequence here). Afterwards, Eve and Ludon's combined ensembles sing/play angular melodic figures in unison. At the end, Eve, Ludon and their children depart in laughter and joy.
  • ZUSTIMMUNG (Consent), featuring soprano, bass, flute, basset horn (quartet): Eve (with Elu & Lufa) appears before Ludon, who presents Eve with a black talisman. Eve consents to a union with Ludon's son Caino (in order to "advance the evolution of Mankind") and hands the talisman back to Ludon. Musically, this scene is an elaboration of the 1st scene's quartet.
The color for FRIDAY is ORANGE.

  • Appearance of Hybrid Couples: In the second act, the Real Scenes continue to be separated by the paired Sound Scene lovers. However, after the Real Scene FALL, adjacent couples begin to "swap partners" during the Sound Scenes. After each of these "inter-animate" couplings, a "hybrid" ani-mechanical couple appears between the neighboring couples. These new Hybrid Couples (ultimately 6 pairs in all) take on the combined forms of their "parents" (for example, a dog-woman and a man-cat, a car-typewriter and a car driver in a photocopy machine, etc...). As they are borne, they begin singing quiet held harmonies.
  • FALL, featuring soprano, baritone, flute, basset horn (quartet): Eve (with Elu & Lufa) arrives in a boat (broad flute and basset horn lines with synth drones). They greet Ludon's son Caino (a baritone) who sits on the shore of a moonlit lake. Eve and Caino "entwine themselves" and sing a sensuous duet. Afterwards, Eve departs on her boat, as a red comet shoots across the sky (accompanied by the cry of betrayed Michael).
  • KINDERKRIEG (Children's War), featuring children's choir, synthesizer (optional basset horn): In this scene the children of Eve (armed with modern armaments) battle the children of Ludon (armed with primitive wood and stone weapons). The battle sequence ends as a giant winged rhinoceros sends the white children into a retreat. This conflict is musically expressed through contrapuntal "dueling" children's choir melodies and synthesizer sound effects.
  • REUE (Repentance), featuring soprano, flute, basset horn (trio): Eve (with Elu & Lufa) returns to the lake shore where she had had her tryst with Caino. She sings an aria of repentance, supported by her basset horn and flute companions. At the same time, Eve also makes INORI gestures (a form of "sign language") as a parallel layer of regretful beseechment.
  • ELUFA, featuring flute & basset horn: Elu and Lufa musically ruminate upon the drama that has transpired. The 12 "parent" Couples pronounce their repentance and then disappear (although their Hybrid Couple progeny remain, and begin to congregate).
  • CHOR-SPIRALE (Choir Spiral), featuring choir: The 6 pairs of Hybrid Couples unite in a giant candle flame while singing, eventually rising up in a slow spiral movement and vanishing into the Beyond.
    Johannes Cohen, 1995
    Real Scenes Further Analysis and Listening Guide

    Sound Scenes Further Analysis and Listening Guide

    Day of Temptation
         Friday from Light continues the "dark streak" begun in Tuesday from Light. For example, where the Tuesday episode portrayed the war between Michael and Lucifer in "adult" battlefield terms, Friday's conflict is climaxed by a fantastical "children's war" between Eve and Lucifer's children. In many ways Friday is a direct sequel to Tuesday and together they make for a thought-provoking pair.

         Musically, Stockhausen's concept of placing vocal and instrumental forces next to and in tandem with much more abstract electronic and concrete music works really well, and by using WELTRAUM as an electronic background layer (faded in and out), a unified "mood" is established, almost like how a color scheme is applied to a film. The vocally-driven "cybernetic" music of the Sound Scenes also provides a fascinating contrast to the staged performances. Due partly to the vocoder-related abstract sound elements and textures (as well as the strangely-costumed dancers), they provide an exotic contrast to the more "natural" harmony and costuming found in the Real Scenes.

         The vocal, choral and instrumental combinations making up the musical fabric of the Real Scenes are based on somewhat simplified versions of the LICHT "super-formula" (which were introduced and explored in the first three LICHT operas). These simplified thematic forms are based on sensuous "gliding" figures (oftentimes in counterpoint), resulting in possibly some of the most classically-romantic works of Stockhausen's entire oeuvre.

    (from Children's War)
         The table below lists the instrumental forces featured in each act.
    (Outer Space Pt 1)
    Tape (modified vocal and concrete sounds)
    FRIDAY TEMPTATION: Soprano, Baritone and Bass vocal soloists, flute, bassett horn, choir, children’s choir and "orchestra", synthesizer, tape (modified vocal and concrete sounds)
         PROPOSAL (feat. Soprano and Bass vocal soloists, flute, bassett horn)
         CHILDREN'S ORCHESTRA (feat. Soprano and Bass vocal soloists, 2-part children's choir and soloists)
         CONSENT (feat. Soprano and Bass vocal soloists, flute, bassett horn)
         FALL (feat. Soprano and Baritone vocal soloists, flute, bassett horn)
         CHILDREN'S WAR (feat. 2-part children's choir & synthesizer (PIANO PIECE XVII))
         REPENTANCE (feat. Soprano vocal soloist, flute, bassett horn)
         ELUFA (feat. bassett horn, flute)
         CHOIR-SPIRAL (feat. 2-part mixed choir)


    Soprano and Bass processed with concrete music
    (Outer Space Pt 2)
    Tape (modified vocal and concrete sounds)

    Released on Stockhausen Edition CD 50
    • FREITAGS GRUSS (Friday Greeting): Ambient electronic music for audience arrival. Rec. 1992/94.
    • FREITAG-VERSUCHUNG (Friday Temptation): Two Acts with an intermission, featuring the above listed personnel performing opera "Real Scenes" separated by the taped "Sound Scenes". Rec. 1996.
    • FREITAGS ABSCHIED (Friday Farewell): Ambient electronic music for audience departure. Rec. 1992/94.
    Stockhausen's FREITAG aus LICHT
    and its sub-works (click to enlarge).
    See also LICHT Works.

    Additional Arrangements from FREITAG aus LICHT Stockhausen Edition CD
    FREIA for basset horn (1991) 32 Suzanne Stephens (Works 1989-94)
    FREIA for flute (1991) 57 LICHT Chamber Works (Pasveer/Abellán)
    TWO COUPLES (1992/99) 64 Electronic and Concrete Music
    KLAVIERSTÜCK XVI (derived from Sound Scene 12 of FREITAG aus LICHT) for tape, piano, synth (1995) 57 LICHT Chamber Works (Pasveer/Abellán)
    Electronic and Concrete Music for KOMET (1994/99) 64 Electronic and Concrete Music
    KOMET, or Klavierstück XVII for synth, tape (1995) 57 LICHT Chamber Works (Pasveer/Abellán)
    KOMET for a percussionist (Andreas Boettger), electronic and concrete music (1994/99) 79 Percussion & Electronics
    KOMET for a percussionist (Stuart Gerber), electronic and concrete music (1994/99) 82 Brass, Reeds, Percussion & Electronics
    VIBRA-ELUFA for vibraphone (2003) 79 Percussion & Electronics