Personalities | Mauricio Kagel | Modern Era | Opera
A self-taught composer, this ‘prankster of the avant-garde’ began writing at 18 and quickly became associated with music theatre and eclectic compositional techniques, encompassing both neo-classical and aleatoric styles. Humour, irony, double-meanings and a rejection of music’s more pretentious conventions are omnipresent elements within Kagel’s work.
Intent on the theatricalization of music, Kagel used his first opera, Staatstheater, to subvert the hierarchy of the opera house. A ballet is performed by non-dancers, each member of a 60-strong chorus sings a solo and the orchestra is not in the pit, but pre-recorded. What’s more, there is no plot or libretto. Staatstheater’s premiere at the Hamburg State Opera provoked uproar, which helped to establish Kagel’s reputation as an enfant terrible of the operatic stage.
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