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Rihm Oedipus


Andreas Schmidt, Lenus Carlson, William Murray, William Dooley, William Pell

Berlin Deutsche Oper /Christof Prick

Arthaus DVD : 101667

A powerful version of the Oedipus legend, mostly composed with a high level of dissonance and tension, which will alienate some collectors (there was a large amount of booing counterpointing the prolonged applause held on to the very end in this live televised premiere from 1987).

Though not a dedicated Wolfgang Rihm fan (q.v. in Luxembourg I was repelled by the extravagant, overloaded 55 mins orchestral work Jagden und Formen) I found Rihm's Oedipus theatrically gripping for its c.80 mins, with Andreas Schmidt notable as the legendary anti-hero. There are clever light effects to express his blindness, and a moving scene with children symbolising a possible better future...

The quality of picture & sound is excellent for its age and the background information with the DVD is excellent.

Sample Oedipus on YouTube with Jocasta dissuading Oedipus from knowing all, and in the last scene with him blinded and old, as also above.

Peter Grahame Woolf

A German's Grotesque View of 'Oedipus' in Santa Fe - - this 80-minute exercise in unpleasantness -- drawn from the Sophocles play and from German commentaries on it -- turns tragedy into derangement, malice and pornographic violence. Mr. Rihm's uninterrupted exposition begins with Oedipus's confrontation with the Sphinx, played in concert by four women. The rest is a collage of solemn flashback, private lamentation and personal injury. The Shepherd is tortured with a chainsaw. Jocasta hangs herself and dangles for our edification. Two streams of blood spurt when Oedipus blinds himself. At the end, Kreon drives him away in mad fits of sadism- - . [New York Times 1991]