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Review: ‘Inside Light’ Gives a Taste of Stockhausen’s Opera Epic

Review: ‘Inside Light’ Gives a Taste of Stockhausen’s Opera Epic


Some of the video on the Armory conjures ocean waves; a set of lights on one facet sometimes shines down brightly, like a solar or full moon. That, although, is about as a lot recognizable imagery as there may be in “Inside Light.” The visuals steer away from kitsch or gratuitous weirdness; that is, nevertheless improbably, a coolly trendy Stockhausen, shorn of a lot of his bizarrerie.

That sacrifices so much. But what it leaves — what makes “Inside Light” particular — is the chance to listen to this music organized so sensitively and stimulatingly, on such a fancy but clear array of audio system arrange across the viewers. (Spatialized music has turn out to be an Armory subspecialty: It has offered Stockhausen’s “Oktophonie” and “Gruppen,” and works by Boulez and Kaija Saariaho.)

Contrast the delicate sound work being accomplished right here by Kathinka Pasveer, a longtime Stockhausen collaborator, and Reinhard Klose with the murky, gimmicky multichannel audio of the Sonic Sphere (primarily based on a Stockhausen prototype) on the Shed final 12 months. In “Unsichtbare Chöre,” male voices have been audible off to 1 facet of the place I used to be sitting, with girls behind someplace within the distance. In “Freitags-Abschied,” only a second or two of tinkling method off to my left remodeled music-making into world-building.

Stockhausen typically positioned his music in whole darkness, and, with all due respect to the designers, closing your eyes barely limits the expertise on the Armory. Yet not wanting would stop taking in a climactic imaginative and prescient.

“Freitags-Abschied” slowly ends as a person’s talking voice intones “dreizehn,” or “13,” again and again, a super-elongated incantation or mantra. A excessive, comfortable drone appears to maneuver across the house. (A little bit of musical hope flickering within the darkness?) The closing picture accompanying all this can be a sq. of white LEDs beaming down a ghostly tower, with the slight separation between the lights creating distinctive vertical striations on the tower’s “facade.”

It was arduous, for me not less than, not to consider the World Trade Center, particularly since Stockhausen and “Licht” have been ensnared in controversy across the Sept. 11 assaults. Asked by a journalist just a few days after the assaults about his opera’s characters, he stated that Lucifer — for him the cosmic power in opposition to creation and love — “could be very a lot current, like in New York just lately,” and added that the assaults have been “the best murals that’s attainable in the entire cosmos.”

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