Title

Wozzeck, A Culmination Point in Opera?

Publication Year

1965

Keywords

opera, music, Wozzeck, drama, playwriting, Alban Berg

Disciplines

Dramatic Literature, Criticism and Theory | Italian Language and Literature | Music | Music Performance | Playwriting | Theatre and Performance Studies

Abstract

Alban Berg's Wozzeck has been called one of the greatest operas of the 20th century. Why? Many individuals who hear the work turn away and speak only of the dissonance in the music or of a prostitute as one of the central characters. Others hear some of the grotesque effects Berg achieved in the vocal lines and say "Is this singing? Music?" I became interested in the work through the reading of Georg Buchner's play by the same name. The intensity of the drama, the pitiful character of Wozzeck, and the symbolic characters in society seemed to indicate something more than mere entertainment on the stage. This work encompassed many aspects of modern thought: sociology, psychology, science, politics, symbolism, drama, and music with the opera adaptation of the play. The work appealed not only to the age in which it was written, the 1830's, but also to the 1900's. There is something universal about the theme, about the moral questioning, and about the struggle of the "underdog" in society. The opera is called by Redlich a social protest opera.

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