Say this about Oedipus: The character’s got staying power. The mythological King of Thebes, who killed his father, slept with his mother and learned of his crimes through the pursuit of truth, has inspired works by Purcell, Stravinsky, Enescu and Turnage. Add to that list the prolific German composer Wolfgang Rihm, who believed the poor chap encapsulates all that is human in us and pounded the point home in the taut 1987 psychodrama Oedipus that explores the extremes of human emotions.
Rihm adapted Sophocles’ tragedy for Götz Friedrich’s Deutsche Oper Berlin at a time when a new generation of German composers was breaking with serialism and dabbling in more expressive musical forms. His version, available for the first time on an Arthaus Musik DVD, retells the tragedy in a 90-minute, uninterrupted series of monologues, flashbacks and tableaus that seem to revel in the steamrolling of human dignity. Read more »