Tod Machover's Schoenberg in Hollywood Travels to China for Asian Premiere
Grand Theater of Longgang Cultural Center, Shenzhen, China, November 4, 2023
150th Anniversary Celebration of the Birth of Arnold Schoenberg School of Music of the Chinese University of Hong Kong
The Asia debut of Tod Machover’s highly acclaimed 2018 opera, Schoenberg in Hollywood takes place on November 4th, 2023, as part of a series of events celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of composer Arnold Schoenberg, hosted by the School of Music of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (for more information, visit the CUHK website). This production of the opera stars baritone Marco di Sapia, who sang the title role in the 2022 Vienna production, as Schoenberg. The rest of the cast and crew is Chinese. Shi Jinfu directs the staging and Deng Zhuorui conducts the singers and instrumentalists. The opera is being performed in English with both English and Chinese titles; the entire libretto has been translated into Chinese and will be included in the program book. The opera takes place at the Grand Theater of Longgang Cultural Center in Shenzhen, China. Schoenberg in Hollywood was premiered by Boston Lyric Opera in 2018 and given its European premiere by the Vienna Volksoper in 2022; the opera is based on a scenario by the late Braham Murray with a libretto by Simon Robson.
"I was surprised when Schoenberg in Hollywood made the voyage from Boston back to Vienna – the city that had rejected Schoenberg – last year," said Machover. "It was even more surprising to me when the opportunity to present this opera here in Shenzhen was first discussed, and I am so pleased and honored that this dream is now coming true, especially in the context of celebrating the 150th anniversary of Schoenberg’s birth. Perhaps it is proof that long and unexpected journeys can still bring wonderful surprises, and that music is indeed the medium that best connects us."
In Schoenberg in Hollywood, Machover tells the life story of composer Arnold Schoenberg, who escapes the Nazis during World War II by fleeing to Los Angeles. After being offered a chance to write a score for an upcoming blockbuster film, the composer faces an identity crisis and looks back on various events in his life, played out in a pastiche of Hollywood film styles, including silent film and film noir.
The Asian premiere of Tod Machover’s chamber opera, Schoenberg in Hollywood, is to be presented on November 4, 2023, by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, as part of a celebratory series of events for what would have been Schoenberg’s 150th birthday.
Other operas by Tod Machover include Valis (1987) based on the Philip K. Dick novel, which received a new production at MIT this summer, Skellig (2008) adapting the children’s book by David Almond, and Death and the Powers (2010), exploring the integration of man and machine.
"Full of the spiky dissonances Schoenberg loved, Machover’s score references a plethora of the earlier composer’s works, as well as films including Psycho and Singin’ in the Rain." --The Boston Globe
"Machover’s music always sounds like his own. Personal conviction, a rarity in so much contemporary opera, seems always at the center of this rangy, emotionally engaging score—never more so than at the very end when the music becomes a kaleidoscopic mash-up of lots of Schoenberg all at once." -- Musical America