Wolfang Rihm: Jakob Lenz

»He did everything just like the others did, but there was a horrible emptiness within him. He felt no more fear, no desire; his existence had become a necessary burden to him. – Thus, he went on living.« (Georg Büchner: Lenz, 1839). First performed in 1979, Wolfgang Rihm’s chamber opera ›Jakob Lenz‹ is based on Georg Büchner’s story ›Lenz‹ and describes the three-week stay of the Sturm-und-Drang poet Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz with Pastor Friedrich Oberlin in Alsace. At the time, Lenz was already exhibiting symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia. He loses touch with his surroundings, internalizing the external world in a twisted projection. In addition to the real figures of the story, Rihm’s ›Jakob Lenz‹ features six voices – projections of Lenz’ inner state, his fears and dreams, but also voices of his surroundings. Overlayered, reality and hallucination grow indistinguishable; Lenz’ psychological experiences merge with the surrounding sounds. Since its premiere, Rihm’s one-act piece has become one of the most successful German-language operas of the 20th century. Under Ingo Metzmacher’s baton, Ensemble Modern performs the chamber opera with Georg Nigl in the role of Lenz and other renowned singers. Andrea Breth directs the production, which will be presented at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence on July 5, 8 and 12, 2019. For her production of this chamber opera – a co-production of the Stuttgart Opera, the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie (Brussels) and the Berlin State Opera Unter den Linden – Breth already won the prestigious FAUST Prize in the category ›Director, Musical Theatre‹ in 2015.