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Life During Wartime: a new program from Cantata Profana

New Haven Review
By Donald Brown

Last spring, I was quite impressed by members of Cantata Profana in performance of the challenging score of Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire in a dramatic staging of that work directed by Ethan Heard at Yale Cabaret. This weekend, Cantata Profana is back with a new program, “The Rest of the World at War: Germany—America—1942,” which their press release describes as “both a deep reflection on the War and a comedy show for music nerds.”

Artistic Director Jacob Ashworth says that the idea for the program began with the Richard Strauss sextet that opens his last opera Capriccio. Written in 1942, in wartime Berlin, the work is striking, as Ashworth sees it, for its lack of engagement with a world at war. Six characters in a salon debate “which is more important in opera: music or words.” The opera’s opening is “decadent and irresponsible,” Ashworth says, “for someone in such a highly influential position.” In his 70s, Strauss seems to have chosen to detach his music from any real world relevance. Praising the work as “stunningly beautiful,” Ashworth wanted to find companion pieces that would help create an artistic and historical context for Strauss’ preference for aesthetic contemplation over engagement with the times. MORE

Published May 9, 2014
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