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D o r i s L e s s i n g

L i b r e t t o
The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five
An opera by Philip Glass in two acts, for orchestra, chorus and soloists.
Libretto by Doris Lessing based on her novel of the same name, translated into German by Saskia M. Wesnigk.
Commissioned by the State Government of Baden-Württemberg and the Cement Corporation of Heidelberg, Germany.
First premiered in Heidelberg, Germany on 10 May, 1997.

click on an image for a larger version

The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five is the last opera by Philip Glass (the 15th of his operas).

It was premiered on May 10, 1997 in Heidelberg (Germany), Thomas Kalb was the musical director and Birgitta Trommler the stage director. It is based on a novel by Doris Lessing. They collaborated previously in "The Making of the Representative for Planet 8" opera. Doris Lessing herself wrote the libretto for the Heidelberg staging. It was translated into German by Saskia M. Wesnigk. The novel belongs to the genre of fantasy and explores the fights between men and women and the dimensions of sex and love in three different cultures and ways of life (zones in the novel). The design of the stage is not so radical than Robert Wilson ones but in a more theatrical style with simplicity and elegance. The opera is in two acts without overture neither epilogue. There is more than 30 actors and dancers on scene. There is also a full symphonic orchestra with a great chorus singing slowly all the time in a syllabic mode like in "Einstein on the Beach". The music reminds sometimes the "Heroes Symphony" or the lyrics parts of "Akhnaten", but in general, the score seems totally new, with many romantic moments and melodic material in the line of his latest compositions but also with rhythmic and strong passages.

Photos from the programme and comments
about the performance courtesy of GlassPages:

http://www.uni-paderborn.de/~pg/glass.html (mirror)

U.S. Premier:

  • June 7, 9 & 10, 2001: in a new production directed by Harry Silverstein and music conducted by Robert Kaminskas at DePaul University, Merle Reskin Theatre in Chicago, Illinois.

Also see the novel: