The Last Virtuoso

/  Den Sidste Virtuos (Danish)

Chamber opera 1991

The Last Virtuoso” plays in a violinmakers shop – a small business lost in time. Outside in the street gunshots are heard. The old violinmaker and his bookkeeper haven’t seen a customer for ages. Times have changed – nobody needs their skills anymore. The violinmaker is killing… Read full synopsis here

”A short, concise work which lingers hauntingly in the mind. If the Bjerg/Klit partnership can come up with a companion one-acter, they would have a highly marketable full-length double-bill.” Hilton Tims, Opera Now, June 1995  Read reviews here

Man kann in Bjergs Libretto aber auch, und das macht wesentlich mehr Sinn, die geniale Umsetzung eines Individuations-Prozesses erkennen, wie ihn der bekannte Psychoanalytiker Carl Gustav Jung beschrieben hat. Dann wären die fünf Figuren die verschiedenen Bewusstseinsteile eines einzigen Menschen – der Geigenbauer als kreatives Ich, die Buchhalterin als rationales Ich, der Sohn als triebgesteuertes Ich, der Virtuose als Genius und damit Über-Ich und das Mädchen als Seele.” excerpt from review of the Regensburg performance in 2012 – Read more of the newest reviews here

FACTS

Libretto:
Danish, German, English

Composer:
Lars Klit

First performance:
Den Anden Opera, Copenhagen, April 1995

Other performances:
Den Anden Opera, Copenhagen, 1996
Berliner Kammer Oper, September 1999
Darmstadt Staatsoper, 2000
Theater Regensburg, 2012

Duration:
1 hour

Singers:
Soprano, mezzo, tenor, baritone, bass

Orchestra:
Violin, double bass, trumpet,electric guitar, keyboards, percussion

Links:
German reviews from the Regensburg performance in 2012:
Parabel über die Verstrickung in ein böses Spiel

Psychoanalyse in der Kammeroper

Ein Krimi um Musik: die Kammeroper “Der letzte Virtuose”

Blutige Töne


SYNOPSIS

“The Last Virtuoso” plays in a violinmakers shop – a small business lost in time. Outside in the street gunshots are heard. The old violinmaker and his bookkeeper haven’t seen a customer for ages. Times have changed – nobody needs their skills anymore. The violinmaker is killing time by harassing his young son. When a young girl comes running in from the street, the bookkeeper hopes she is a customer, but she is just seeking shelter from the violence outside. The young boy is infatuated by the serene beauty of the young girl, but cannot make her stay.

The virtuoso enters and is immediately recognized as the real thing by the bookkeeper who makes the violinmaker pull himself together. The virtuoso has been away from the city for many years. Now he has returned to be united with his true love – a girl of such utter perfection that he must have the perfect violin to play for her and convince her of his love. The violinmaker is hesitant – it is quite a task to produce the perfect violin in a day. But the bookkeeper urges him on, and he agrees to do his utmost to satisfy the virtuoso.

They are back in business and decide to initiate the young boy in the secret of how to build a perfect, a real violin. You have to catch a soul in it.

Excited the boy sees this as his final opportunity to become a man and rises to go to the hospital on his quest for a soul.
But, the bookkeeper warns him, not any soul will do.

To produce a perfect violin you need a beautiful soul, the soul of a young girl. This doesn´t stop the young boy who is aching to grow up, but the violinmaker finally puts an end to his dreams – only he himself is enough of a man to catch a soul.

As the violinmaker is preparing to go out to get a soul, more gunshots are heard from the street. Suddenly the young girl comes rushing in with blood running down her face. The bookkeeper is on the spot with a violin in which to catch her soul, but the wound turns out to be just a minor scratch.

The young boy is frantically trying to make the girl leave the shop, fearing what his father and the bookkeeper will do to her. But the young girl cannot take his warnings seriously.

What happens beyond this point is meant to be a thrill – but if you cannot stand that, this is it :

The more the boy tells her about the soul turning into music when it is caught in a violin, the less inclined is she to leave the shop. The bookkeeper is coming still closer with the knife. The moment she raises the knife, the virtuoso who has just entered calls out “Clara!”. As the bookkeeper looks, the young boy takes the opportunity to put himself between the girl and the knife and is the one who gets stabbed. His father, the violinmaker is raging that the dying boy is a fool. The young girl who turns out to be the true love of the virtuoso, tells him what has been going on. When the virtuoso attacks the violinmaker, the old man calls him a hypocrite and challenges him to take the soul by himself. Meanwhile the young girl is getting more and more absorbed by the idea of turning into music. She starts cutting herself with the knife, watching the lines of blood covering her body. When the bookkeeper realizes what is going on, she forces the Virtuoso to take the violin and catch the soul of his true love as she takes her last breath.

The violinmaker tells him to “play goddammit”. And the virtuoso plays.

REVIEWS

”A short, concise work which lingers hauntingly in the mind. If the Bjerg/Klit partnership can come up with a companion one-acter, they would have a highly marketable full-length double-bill.” Hilton Tims, Opera Now, June 1995

”In harmony with great literature.” Knud Cornelius, Frederiksborg Amtsavis, 21/4 1995

”Succesful chamberopera.” Anne-Marie Gregersen, BT, 22/4 1995

”Sanne Bjergs libretto is tight and exact in its deconstructive form, where the absurd changes with the banal, with a uniquely humorous undertone.” Det Fri Aktuelt, 22/4 1995

”A new danish opera that has succeeded in combining the renewal of the musical drama and basically captivating entertainment.” Viggo Sørensen, Jyllandsposten, 22/4 1995

Quotes from the Berlin reviews collected by the director

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