"Our kind don’t get a chance in this world or the next. If we go to heaven, they’ll put us to work on the thunder!"
Georg Büchner, Woyzeck
Alban Berg discovered Büchner’s Woyzeck in 1914. Highly impressed, he began work adapting the play with a view to writing an opera. The work had its premiere in Berlin in 1925 after a legendary number of rehearsals –137– and quickly earned its reputation as a masterpiece of 20th century music. Separated and fragmented, the scenes combine in a series of tableaux to tell the story of Wozzeck, an ordinary soldier whose only solace is the love of his companion Marie. However, the latter’s fidelity is not unfailing and Wozzeck is haunted by torment. His officers and comrades in arms do little to improve the situation. The omnipresent tension in this profoundly romantic work unifies the fifteen scenes with their complex tonalities alternating between Verist notes and the force of ritualised actions. The interplay of musical citations and the balance between tonality and atonality underline a disquietingly authentic portrait of humanity where drama attains the status of myth. The work entered the Paris Opera’s repertoire relatively late in 1963. Christoph Marthaler’s production provides an atmosphere of contemporaneity strongly accentuated by the choice of a single set, where the men’s despair is submerged in Berg’s dearly sought-after sobriety.