Friday, 16 November 2018

Endgame: György Kurtág's first opera premieres at La Scala

György Kurtág & Samuel Beckett: Fin de partie - La Scala, Milan (Photo Walz Ruth)
György Kurtág & Samuel Beckett: Fin de partie - La Scala, Milan (Photo Walz Ruth)
György Kurtág is now in his 90s, but not only is there no sense of his slowing down but his first opera has just debuted at La Scala, Milan. A co-production between La Scala and Dutch National Opera, directed by Pierre Audi and conducted by Markus Stenz, Fin de partie sets a text by Samuel Beckett, with a cast which includes Frode Olsen, Leigh Melrose, Hilary Summers and Leonardo Cortellazzi. The production runs at La Scala until 25 November 2018 (see website) and is performed in Amsterdam in March 2019 (see website).

As Pierre Audi's article of La Scala's website [PDF] demonstrates, Kurtág has been flirting with opera since the 1980s but constantly shying away from the idea, yet the result has finally come to fruition with a setting of Samuel Beckett, a very apt conjoining of artistic geniuses. Beckett was generally set against the idea of words from his plays being turned into opera, and Kurtág has taken the risk of setting Fin de partie complete and unedited. The result inevitably changes the rhythm of Beckett's spoken text, yet must be regarded as a most exciting operatic premiere.

Samuel Beckett originally wrote Fin de partie in French, subsequently translating it himself into English as Endgame. It was premiered at the Royal Court, in French, in 1957.

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