David Lang: prisoner of the state

David Lang: prisoner of the state

David Lang’s fascination with Beethoven’s Fidelio—an evergreen operatic exploration of liberty, oppression, and identity—expresses itself in this brilliant retelling. For his prisoner of the state, he strips back Beethoven’s libretto and plot to their essentials and focuses on the core storyline of a wife striving to set her husband free. Recorded live at New York’s Lincoln Center in 2019, Lang’s seething, urgent music, with its stabbing, trembling underlay, propels this taut opera forward to its uncertain, tumultuous end. But while there are moments of genuine menace in the prisoners’ “I stole a loaf of bread,” for instance, listen for Julie Mathevet (The Assistant) and Eric Owens (The Jailer), whose spellbinding duet “how cold it is” is as beautiful as it is anguished.

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