Henze's two-act Phaedra, directed by Peter Mussbach, receives its premiere on September 6 at the Staatsoper unter den Linden with the Ensemble Modern led by Michael Boder. The libretto, by poet Christian Lehnert, stretches the original myth of the opera's namesake. The first half takes from interpretations by Euripides, Racine and Sarah Kane, while the second is based on Ovid's Metamorphoses. In Lehnert's version, Artemis resurrects Hippolytus as Virbius on the island of Nemi; Phaedra returns to life as well.
Starring in the title role is mezzo-soprano Madgalena Kozenš; also in the production are Marlis Petersen (Aphrodite), John Mark Ainsley (Hippolytus), Axel K‹hler (Artemis) and Lauri Vasar (Minotauros).
The opera features set designs by Olafur Eliasson, and is a co-commission and co-production between the Berliner Festspiele, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Wiener Festwochen and the Th_ê¢tre de la Monnaie in Brussels.
On September 8, the Lichtung cycle by Emmanuel Nunes will be performed in its entirety for the first time. The instrumental and electronic work by the Varse-influenced composer achieves a three-dimensional effect; Musikfest's website describes the work's sounds as being alive and "wander[ing] about the room and appear[ing] as elements or starting points of new forms and processes." The electronic portion of Nunes's score was developed and programmed by the Paris IRCAM. The musikFabrik Ensemble, based in Cologne and led by Peter Rundel, will perform the work.
Also on the same program are Varse's D_serts and Int_grales, and Wolfgang Rihm's Form/Zwei Formen (1993-94).
Musikfest Berlin - formerly the Berliner Festwoche - runs from August 31 to September 16. In addition to Berlin's major orchestras, Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under Bernard Haitink, the Boston Symphony Orchestra with James Levine, the San Francisco Symphony with Michael Tilson Thomas, and the S‹chsische Staatskapelle Dresden with Fabio Luisi will perform. Featured soloists include Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Daniel Barenboim, Andršs Schiff, Magdalena Ko_enš, V_ronique Gens, Frank Peter Zimmermann, Nathalie Stutzmann and H_lne Grimaud.
A performance of Morton Feldman's six-hour-long String Quartet II by the Pellegrini Quartett opens the festival. Visit www.musikfest-berlin.de for more information.