Today, the first opera (a lyrical drama in 14 scenes) composed by Michel Tabachnik, Benjamin, dernière nuit, with a libretto by Régis Debray, will be performed at the Opéra de Lyon.
The opera mixes music and theatre, with an actor and a tenor both playing the role of Walter Benjamin, lying on his deathbed or remembering his life. The libretto is in English, French and German, depending on the characters involved in the scene : the Hungarian novelist Arthur Koestler, the German philosopher Hannah Arendt, the French writer André Gide, the German playwright Bertolt Brecht...
1940. Walter Benjamin just arrived in Portbou, a French village near the Spanish border, following advice from his friends. In a desolate hotel room, he remembers his life in a series of flash-backs : his career, his friends, his regrets. He is gained by despari as he learned that he might be forced back to France. He commits suicide. (freely adapted from the Durand Salabert Eschig website).The cast includes tenor Jean-Noël Briend (Walter Benjamin), actor Sava Lolov (Walter Benjamin), mezzo Michaele Selinger (Hannah Arendt), baritone Charles Rice (Arthur Koestler), terno Jeff Martin (Bertolt Brecht), tenor Gilles Ragon (André Gide). Bernhard Kontarsky conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Opéra national de Lyon. John Fulljames conducts.
The opera should alst about 90 minutes. The orchestra required is the following :
- 1 piccolo, 2 flutes (2nd doubling piccolo), 2 oboes (2nd doubling English Horn), 1 English Horn, 2 clarinets, 1 bass clarinet, 2 bassoons (2nd doubling contrabassoon), contrabassoon ;
- 4 horns (doubling 4 Wagner tubas), 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, 1 tuba ;
- timpani, 1 piano, 1 harp ;
- 4 percussions : xylorimba, vibraphone, glockenspiel, tubular bells ; sidedrum, bass drum ; cymbals, Chinese cymbals : gongs, bell plates, tam-tams, hyoshigi ;
- strings ;
- on stage : 1 piano, 1 honky-tonk piano, 1 accordion, 1 shofar ;
- fanfare : 4 trumpets, 3 horns, 3 trombones, 1 tuba, several drums, bass drum, cymbals.
There is no brodcast planned yet.