Friday, September 17, 2010

fantasy boulez-ball

I sat about ten feet from Pierre Boulez at the Konzerthausorchester Berlin performance of his transfixing Rituel in memoriam Bruno Maderna. At intermission, I worked up the courage to talk to him (actually the second time I've done so--but the first was three years ago in Chicago, and I asked him some stupid question about Mahler).

Here is a very rough transcription of what I remember from that conversation:

Seated Ovation: (sweating, mumbling) Mr. Boulez, I'm a fan of your music and I just wanted to ask you a quick question. Is it true that you're working on a Godot opera?
Boulez: Well, that's what the papers's for now an idea in my head.

Don't take that as a direct quote, but he said something along those lines. Anyway, you heard it here first: Boulez might write a Godot opera.

The second wave of speculation is: who would conduct? Who would direct? At what opera house? Here's what would be awesome: in March 2015, for Boulez's 90th birthday, a simultaneous premiere at the Met and Staatskapelle Berlin, both productions directed by Patrice Chereau. The line-up of conductors: Barenboim and Peter Eötvös sharing honors at the Staatskapelle, and David Robertson and James Levine splitting it at the Met. The same month, Alan Gilbert conducts the New York Phil in Messiaen's Saint Francis at the Park Avenue Armory as part of a four-week festival organized by Lincoln Center, which also includes a joint Met-Boston Symphony Orchestra performance of Gruppen (led by Levine*, or whoever's subbing for him). Robertson leads the Juilliard Orchestra in the complete orchestral works of Boulez over the course of two weeks. And to top it off, Boulez conducts the Ensemble Intercontemporain at Alice Tully on the eve of his 90th birthday. After the concert, a party on Governor's Island DJed by Tristan Murail and members of IRCAM.

*Does Jimmy conduct Stockhausen?


  1. A Godot opera still seems like a terrible idea to me, and a Boulez Godot opera doubly so. There must be a dozen Beckett plays better suited to his musical sensibility.

    But what do I know? He's Pierre Boulez!

  2. I always figured Boulez as more a Genet man myself. Granted, The Maids and The Balcony have already been done...

  3. This idea of Boulez festival sounds worse than any of those terrible vampire movies. There should be at least one Stravinsky work at each of those concerts. Or some of the other old, boring and plain stupid composers Mr. Boulez used to completely despise before he started conducting them for money.

    I know, that's not true any more.

  4. Perhaps the essence of an opera about Godot lies in the waiting -- that it will, in fact, never come. Could Boulez be having us on? Or is he actually thinking about it?

  5. this is perfect, but only if EIC plays "Repons"

  6. As long as Domingo does Lucky's speech in sprechstimme...

  7. Boulez is one of the least funny composers today. I can't imagine him doing justice to Beckett's sublime sublime combination of vaudeville and existential crisis.