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THESE CONCERTS, A PART OF THE BARBRO AND BERNARD OSHER STAGED PRODUCTION FUND, ARE MADE POSSIBLE BY A GENEROUS GIFT FROM BARBRO AND BERNARD OSHER.
Esa-Pekka Salonen has said “ritual is at the very heart of Stravinsky’s craft.” With the austere and incantatory Oedipus Rex, Stravinsky brings to life a classic Greek myth of power, deception, and heartbreak in a voice that is only his. The Symphony of Psalms turns to an altogether different ritual, cloaking three familiar religious texts in a mantle of drama and timelessness. Salonen and the Orchestra are joined by a cast of stellar vocalists, the SF Symphony Chorus, and legendary director Peter Sellars for this staged event.
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At A Glance
While Igor Stravinsky had picked the story of Oedipus Rex precisely because he assumed everybody already knew the plot, posterity has vindicated that a composer or librettist should not assume much about an audience’s literary background. Most opera-goers have doubtless appreciated the Speaker’s role in reminding us of the classic plot: how Oedipus, King of Thebes and husband of Jocasta, is urged by the Oracle of Delphi (whose directive is conveyed by Oedipus’s brother-in-law Creon) to save his city from plague by discovering who killed King Laïus; how, at his own unwitting urging, Oedipus himself is revealed (reluctantly, by the blind seer Tiresius) to be the ignorant murderer of King Laïus; how he accuses Creon of fomenting this accusation in an effort to unseat him; how it is further disclosed (by a messenger) that his ancestry is not what he had thought, and (by a shepherd) that he is in fact the son of King Laïus and Jocasta, Oedipus’ own wife; how the revelation of this unsuspecting but nonetheless incestuous bond and inadvertent patricide causes Jocasta to commit suicide and leads Oedipus to blind himself with her brooch.