Corriere della Seraflaunted today its journalistic muscles showing us stuff that, frankly, no American newspaper would dare publish, afraid to baffle its readers and challenging their attention span -- and we even have our doubts about the Brits: how cool is that Italy's leading newspaper is publishing a huge interview with Hans Werner Henze, the world's greatest living composer and unabashed animal lover (he owns three beloved hounds), who explains all about his new composition about to be introduced to the public, on January 10, in Rome by Orchestra di Santa Cecilia, Antonio Pappano conducting.
"Opfergang" uses a Franz Werfel poem as the libretto, with two voices: a man chased by the police (John Tomlinson) and a lost dog (Ian Bostridge). This is, Corriere writes, "Henze's exploration of the human soul's darkest depths". "I've wanted to turn the poem into an opera for 40 years, it impressed me so much. What strikes me the most is the humans love for animals. And the theme of sacrifice". The music, says HWH, "is directly inspired by dog sounds: dogs invent whole languages. One of my three dogs speaks German -- at least he thinks he does. He gets sad if he doesn't find the echo he's looking for".
Henze quite wittily observes that, in his youth, he had a few composers "bark" at him, whom they considered guilty of not being avant-garde enough. "I was considered old-fashioned and an innovator at the same time. My music wasn't in sync with the fashion of the moment... If I may joke about it, I'd say some barked at me for it. Who? Stockhausen, Boulez. And Adorno said my music was beautiful but too orderly, he thought it needed more chaos. I say music is chaos only when it's badly written".
Henze ends the interview on a sweet note, evoking his work that premiered last year in Leipzig under Riccardo Chailly's baton, "Elogium Musicum" and was executed again this year in Florence. "Elogium Musicum" is dedicated to Fausto Moroni, Henze's companion for 45 years until Moroni's death at 65 in 2007. "The piece evokes images of Fausto: Fausto and the sound of cicadas in our garden; Fausto and two falcons we often saw flying above our property...". More info about the world premiere of "Opfergang" here.
It's a Henze year, after all.