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Journal Articles Shakespeare en devenir Year : 2007

« Lear de Aribert Reimann, ou Shakespeare à l’opéra »


This article discusses Aribert Reimann’s opera Lear. The Opera was premiered, in German, on July 9 1978 at the Nationaltheater in Munich. The English version was premiered in San Francisco in 1981. The original German libretto was written by Claus. H. Henneberg; The English libretto was conceived by Desmond Clayton. It was Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau who suggested Reimann to adapt King Lear and turn this famous and complex play into an opera in 1968. At first Reimann was not eager to follow Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau’s suggestion but after reading the play again and again, and discussing King Lear with the German baritone, he decided to work on the Lear project in 1975. He decided to work with Claus H. Hennebeg who wrote the libretto of Reimann’s Melusine in 1970. It was after the libretto was written that Reimann started composing the music, even if most of the musical ideas of the score were already quite clear in his mind before the definitive text was finalized. Henneberg’s text is absolutely in keeping with Shakespeare’s plot even though some structural elements had to be altered in order to fit with the operatic genre. Through a series of mirror effects, underlined by the two-part division of the opera, he succeeds in making obvious some elements which were latent in King Lear. As for Reimann’s score, it contributes to reinforcing what is suggested either by Henneberg’s new text or Shakespeare’s play. In order to make its music effective, he resorts to different operatic conventions, adding choruses or giving all its importance to the way voices are attributed to the characters for instance. Apart from operatic conventions, Reimann also bases his score on serial principles whose chore element here is a pair of related hexachords. The series associated with other musical elements contribute to conveying musically the idea of chaos, which is of prime importance as much in King Lear as in Lear. It was risky and daring to try to adapt this famous play, but through the perfect alliance of Reimann’s music and Henneberg’s text, Lear is a modern musical rendering of the play as well as a worthy operatic tribute to Shakespeare.
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hal-01687700 , version 1 (18-01-2018)


  • HAL Id : hal-01687700 , version 1


Jean-Philippe Heberlé. « Lear de Aribert Reimann, ou Shakespeare à l’opéra ». Shakespeare en devenir, 2007, Réécritures de King Lear, 2007 (N°1 ). ⟨hal-01687700⟩
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