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Moses and Aron

Opera in three acts (fragment) by Arnold Schönberg - A production as part of „Fokus ´33“

Event information

Date & Time

Sunday, 10. December 202318:00 Uhr

Further dates

MOSES AND AARON – the plot of Arnold Schoenberg’s incomplete opera – of its three acts only the first two were set to music – follows approximately the story in the bible: from a burning bush Moses is ordered by God to announce God’s existence to the people of Israel. With the argument that he lacks the eloquence, Moses declines to carry out the task. God then decides that Aaron, Moses’ brother, should make the pronouncement. But the people of Israel don’t believe his words, they require miracles – which Aaron performs for them.  While Moses, waiting to receive the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments, is detained on Mount Sinai, the people of Israel rebel and demand that Aaron forge a golden calf.  Upon his return Moses finds the people celebrating wild orgies – he destroys the golden calf and breaks the stone tablets, but when in the form of a pillar of cloud a new miracle occurs, Moses cries out in desperation »O Word, thou Word that I lack!«. In the unfinished third act Moses regains his authority and orders the release of the enchained Aaron. When the latter upon being liberated drops dead, Schoenberg’s fragmented work for the stage ends with Moses addressing the people of Israel.

Arnold Schoenberg worked on MOSES AND AARON from 1930 to 1932. Why Schoenberg after emigrating to the USA left his opera unfinished raises questions. There is the possibility that in America he was no longer sufficiently inspired to go on composing, but it may also be that he later retained his piece to be theatrically unrealizable. Since shortly before he passed away, he explicitly authorized a performance of the opera, MOSES AND AARON was first performed – in concertante form – on March 12, 1954 in Hamburg with the North German Radio Orchestra. It was first staged in a theater on June 6, 1957 in Zurich with Hans Rosbaud conducting.