'Orest' in Vienna

Orest — an opera of unbroken tension at the Wiener Staatsoper

(Financial Times) — New commissions often disappear from repertoire after a handful of performances. So it is a healthy sign that Manfred Trojahn’s Orest has received its fifth staging, at none other than the Vienna State Opera, within a decade of its 2011 premiere in Amsterdam.

Not that this was the original agenda. The production emerges in place of an uncompleted new opera by Krzysztof Penderecki. The programming of Orest, which had been performed at Vienna’s Neue Oper in 2014, does not count as visionary. But the evening brings together a first-rate cast and tasteful staging to a score that, if conservative by contemporary music standards in the German-speaking world, elegantly builds on tradition.

As the opera plunges into the murderous rage of the mythical title character and subsequent liberation from the will of Apollo, flashes of Richard Strauss and Alban Berg create shameless historical continuity. The approximately 75-minute work creates unbroken tension through its constantly mutating, evocative orchestration.  […]