Sonntag aus Licht © Karlheinz Stockhausen, symbol of Sonntag aus Licht i
Since 2018, Le Balcon, led by Maxime Pascal, has been working with talent on the operas, planning to produce each of the 7 days of the cycle Licht, written by Stockhausen over the course of 25 years, with the Festival d’Automne à Paris and the Philharmonie de Paris. It was only natural for the 3 co-producers to join in their ambition to perform the complete cycle over a period of 7 years (2018-2025).
The work of Stockhausen, starting with the electroacoustic discoveries of the 1950s, and taking in his travels through Japan in the 1970s, can be seen as a development leading up to the creation of the two major cycles in his life as a composer: Licht (“Light”) based on the 7 days of the week, and Klang (“Sound”) on the 24 hours of the day.
The cycle Licht is comprised of seven independent operas, totaling some 30 hours of music. This work stands above and beyond other forms of artistic expression. Stockhausen used his own ideas about the cosmos to create, or rather, recreate, a world built from original musical language, proposing a theory of a journey in sound, traveling through space, and even sending soloists into orbit in the air.
This is a critical step of confronting the music, dramaturgy, theater as specifically expressed and written by Stockhausen in the scores, and challenging future artists to produce their own vision based on the detailed scores. Fifteen years after the death of the composer, it is still possible to work in close collaboration with the musicians and artists who worked with him and learnt so much from him.Sonntag is the final opera of the cycle. Its composition was completed in 2003, and the premiere performance was given in 2011. In 2023, Sonntag will be produced and staged by Ted Huffman at the Philharmonie. Sonntag features the most accomplished music in the cycle Licht. Of the many ideas developed by the composer, one key concept was the aspiration to have music in multiple space dimensions, but set in a single time scale.
Le Balcon was founded in 2008 by six students from the Paris Conservatoire and brings together an ensemble of instrumentalists and singers trained in various styles. Le Balcon adapts to its projects and concerts, not least the number of members, as well as the visual concept and its interaction with sound design and electronic music. Founding members are : musical director Maxime Pascal, sound engineer Florent Derex, composers Juan-Pablo Carreño, Mathieu Costecalde and Pedro Garcia-Velasquez and pianist and conductor Alphonse Cemin. The ensemble is named after the 1956 play by Jean Genet, which places the ensemble’s artistic and musical projects, much like the playwright, in the area of narration, language and representation. The ensemble was initially located at the Église Saint-Merry, followed by the Théâtre de l’Athénée Louis-Jouvet, and gradually became a transdisciplinary collective — an orchestra, a group of singers, composers, video artists, dancers and directors — as well as a record label and music publisher. Le Balcon creates productions from a repertoire spanning all eras of music history, with a particular focus on works from the 20th and 21st centuries. In its seven years at the Athénée Théâtre, Le Balcon produced numerous operas and plays, including Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, Eötvös’s Le Balcon, Levinas’s La Métamorphose, Rihm’s Jakob Lenz and numerous world premieres. In 2018 Le Balcon began to turn to larger forms, including a production of Licht, Stockhausen’s cycle of seven operas spanning 29 hours of music. Donnerstag from Licht had its premiere at the Opéra Comique in 2018 and was revived at Southbank Centre in London. This was followed by Samstag from Licht in June 2019 and Dienstag from Licht in October 2020 at the Philharmonie in Paris as part of the Festival d’Automne.