A dark stage, a woman and her voice — a sound that hovers somewhere between song and speech. With Pierrot Lunaire (1912), Not I (1972) and Rockaby (1981), Arnold Schoenberg and Samuel Beckett created pioneering monodramas in which language, music, and form break with conventions, coming closer together. Works thus tailor-made for the genre-bending iconoclasts Barrie Kosky and Dagmar Manzel.
»In order to present our poets, in order to present our composers, we need both, the sounds of singing and of speaking,« the Berlin performance artist Albertine Zehme had stated. In 1912, she commissioned Arnold Schoenberg to write the extraordinary melodrama cycle Pierrot Lunaire, which Igor Stravinsky would later refer to as «modernity’s solar plexus.» At that time, Schoenberg was already composing atonally but had not yet committed himself to the twelve-tone technique he was later to develop. Suggestive images of the moon and nighttime recount the life of the artist, in loosely linked scenes.
With their rhythmic sentence fragments and repetitions, Samuel Beckett's monologues are a music unto themselves: in stream-of-consciousness, staccato-like snippets of thoughts, Not I gives free rein to an unchecked logorrhea, as a desperate story of suffering emerges. In Rockaby, a woman’s death in a rocking chair is dramatized as a minimalist meditation. A virtuoso evening full of intricate rhythms, iridescent melodies, and unrestrained theatricality. The audience, brought up close on the stage, closes in on the singing, speaking, and incanting protagonist.
Melodrama Op. 21  by Arnold Schoenberg and
Not I  as well as Rockaby  by Samuel Beckett