Scenic premiere of Wolpe´s "Zeus und Elida" in Germany

Photo: Pedro Malinowski

In January 2012 the scenic premiere of Stefan Wolpe´s opera „Zeus und Elida“ from 1928 took place in Gelsenkirchen.  The thirty-minute work in the style of a jazzy cabaret-opera was combined here with works by Edmund Nick and Kurt Weill in an evening titled „Großstadt-Triptychon“



Clemens Jüngling, conductor of the theatrical premiere of the Zeitoper “Zeus and Elida” by Stefan Wolpe at the Musiktheater im Revier, Gelsenkirchen in conversation with Patricia Gläfcke of peermusic classical Europe.

peermusic classical (PC): Mr. Jüngling, how did you decide to take this work into your repertory?

We were looking for works which were written in Germany during the 20s. The trigger for this was that around 3 years ago, we had already come across Stefan Wolpe’s “Zeus and Elida” and thought: “This really needs to be performed again.”

PC: Do you believe that the work can also be performed in other contexts, for example, combined with Schönberg?

I believe that Wolpe needs either a very strong contrast or a work that can match his power and also the humor with which this “musical grotesque” meets the audience. I tend more toward the stylistic contrast.

PC: How would you describe Wolpe’s musical language and instrumentation?

Wolpe assimilated an unbelievable amount of influences from his time: The typical sounds of Zeitoper that represent the technological innovations of the time (cars, horns…), the Second Viennese School, cabaret, but also, e.g., Busoni and jazz are very present, as one clearly recognizes in the unbelievably difficult piano parts and, for example, in the saxophones, sousaphones and percussion.

PC: How did you rehearse the work? How did the musicians and singers deal with the complexity?

I have to honestly admit that at first it was a shock for everyone: “How is that supposed to work?!” Especially with the singers, since the parts are not singable at first sight. We spent a good deal of time on journeys of discovery into Wolpe’s humor, the grotesque, also for the self-irony that takes on musicians and the theater industry. And eventually we came to the point where we – at every performance until today – really have a lot of fun, in view of all the concentration that is required.

PC: Mr. Jüngling, would you be so kind as to spontaneously finish the sentence: I perform Wolpe because…

… he adds a richness to the repertory that is also strong enough to change our perspective on other literature.

Stefan Wolpe

Lieder mit Klavierbegleitung
1929 - 1933

Item Number: 3244

Price: 68,00 €