Today, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra presents the world première performance of Louis Andriessen's new opera, Theatre of the World (A Grotesque in 9 scenes) at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, CA.
Louis Andriessen has already composed several operas, including ROSA The Death of a Composer (Amsterdam, 1994), Writing to Vermeer (Amsterdam, 1999) and La Commedia (Amsterdam, 2008).
A boy – Kircher himself, wannabe student, the devil? – takes Kircher and Pope Innocent XI (a patron) on a life-to-death journey across some of Kircher’s wide interests, and the dialogue is polyglot, sometimes within a single passage. The great Mexican mystic/scholar/poet/nun Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1651-1695) was highly influenced by Kircher, and she appears as a sort of platonic intercontinental lover, singing passages from her long poem Primer sueño (First Dream). (reproduced from the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra website)The cast includes baritone Leigh Melrose (Athanasius Kircher a.k.a Padre Atanasio, 76 years old), soprano Lindsay Kesselman (A boy about twelve years), tenor Marcel Beekman (Papa Innocenzo XI), soprano Cristina Zavalloni (Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz) and actor Steven van Watermeulen (Janssonius, Kircher's publisher in Amsterdam). Reinbert de Leeuw conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. Pierre Audi directs, with the Quay Brothers designing sets and videos.
The performance should last about 2 hours. The required orchestra is the following :
- 2 flutes (both = piccolo, 2nd = alto flute), 2 oboes (2nd = English horn), 2 clarinets (1st = alto saxophone, 2nd = tenor saxophone), 2 bass clarinets (1st = clarinet, 2nd = contrabass clarinet), 2 bassoons (2nd = contrabassoon) ;
- 2 horns, 2 trumpets (both = flugelhorn), 2 trombones
- timpani, percussion (African marimba, bass drum, bells, bongos, castanets, chains, cowbells, 5 cymbals, drum kit, glockenspiel, gongs, guiro, iron, lion’s roar, log drum, maracas, 2 metals, 2 snare drums, tambourine, tom-toms, triangle, tubular bells, unpitched bell or rattle or rasp, vibraphone, whip, woodblocks, xylophone)
- piano (= celesta), harp, synthesizer, electric guitar, bass guitar
- strings (reproduced from the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra website)
After 2 performances in Los Angeles, the work will subsequently be performed by the Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam in June 2016.