Opera Scotland

Erwartung Expectation

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Arnold Schönberg (born Vienna, 13 September 1874; died Los Angeles, 13 July 1951)


Marie Pappenheim





First performance: Prague, 6 June 1924.

First performance in UK: London (Sadler's Wells Theatre), 25 April 1960.

First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (Usher Hall), 23 August 1974 (probably earlier).

Scottish Opera première: Glasgow (Theatre Royal), 8 October 2004.



Erwartung was composed in a few days, in 1909, and was therefore one of the first significant works to be atonal in form. It was one of several pieces in which the composer experimented with operatic form, in this case using a large orchestra and a solo singer in a work which lasts only a half hour. Marie Pappenheim was a poet as well as a medical student, and she and Schönberg were probably aware of the works which Freud had published in the early years of the century, though the extent to which he influenced them may be questioned. While it was broadcast by the BBC as early as 1931, its first staging in this country was not until the New Opera Company mounted it at Sadler's Wells in 1960. The soprano was Heather Harper. The following year Georg Solti conducted Amy Shuard in the Covent Garden premiere.



The Woman (soprano)


Plot Summary

It is never entirely clear whether the woman undergoes these torments in reality or is just suffering a thoroughly unpleasant nightmare. She is making her way through a dark forest, following a path, initially by moonlight, later in total darkness. She is searching for her lover, who may or may not be dead. She is herself clearly frightened almost out of her wits. Eventually she stumbles over his corpse, apparently murdered by a rival. After paroxysms of hysterical grief, self-pity and mourning, she wanders off again.

The Cast


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