Mittwoch aus Licht was the sixth to be written of the seven operas which make up Karlheinz Sockhausen’s opera cycle Licht: die sieben Tage der Woche. The opera was written between 1995 and 1997 and, perhaps because of its outrageous demands, was never seen by the composer. The work is being staged by the Birmingham Opera Company led by Graham Vick(22, 23, 24,25 August at 4pm in the Argyle Works, Birmingham). This will be the first time that all six parts of the opera, featuring two choirs, flying solo instrumentalists, live electronic and acoustic music and a string quartet streamed live from four flying helicopters, will be staged together. Needless to say, all the performances are sold out, but the scene involving the members of a string quartet playing in four helicopters will be streamed live tomorrow night (19:00 Wednesday 22 August)
Stockhausen challenged the very nature of what an opera is in his Licht cycle. It makes outrageous demands and to a certain extent these demands almost become more important than the music. Another problem is that Stockhausen premiered many of the scenes separately as concert pieces. It is only by experiencing the works in their entirety that we can begin to assess the nature of Stockhausen’s achievement.
Whilst viewers at home will not be able to experience the full opera, listening and watching the scene with the four helicopters (Scene 3: Helikopter-Streichquartett) will help us begin to assess whether piece is just a stunt or whether it does work as music.
If you register on the Birmingham Opera Company site, then you can watch the entire opera in a one-off live streaming on 23 August at 4pm, but this is a one-off event and not available on demand afterwards.
There’s a lot else besides on The Space, you can see the Royal Opera House’s production of The Trojans, the performance of Holst’s The Planets from the Philharmonia’s Universe of Sound presentation, dance from Russell Maliphant and Shakespeare from the Globe