‘Lulu’ to Headline Cleveland Orchestra’s ‘Censored: Art & Power’ Festival

By David Salazar
(Credit: Marco Borggreve)

The Cleveland Orchestra is set to showcase Berg’s ground-breaking “Lulu” in May 2020 as part of its “Censored: Art & Power” festival.

“Lulu” will feature Barbara Hannigan in the title role with Rainer Trost, Bo Skovhus, Norbert Ernst, Sergei Leiferkus, and Jennifer Johnson Cano. Franz Welser-Möst will conduct performances of the opera on May 16, 19, and 22.

The festival, which will feature presentations throughout Cleveland’s major arts institutions, seeks to “spark discussion about the role of art in society, government censorship, and prejudice” with a particular emphasis on Nazi Germany’s oppression and weaponizing of the arts.

“’Lulu’ was created at a time in history when political forces were against the composer, the work’s musical style, and the subject matter, so that it was banned before its premiere. It was not performed in Berg’s lifetime, and only later recognized as a true 20th-century masterpiece,” Mark Williams, Chief Artistic Officer of The Cleveland Orchestra, stated in a press release. “Today, we have the opportunity not only to perform this influential work, but also to give audiences a sense of the times surrounding the work’s creation that lead to its banning.  It is moving music and a compelling story, but we also knew that it would be meaningful to create context around it, and that was the birth of Censored: Art & Power. We will explore how art and power are connected, how art can be used for political purposes, how art and censorship can be used, not only to control artists, but to control the public who is consuming the art.”

Other concerts that will be featured on the program include “The Nightingale” on May 23, 2020. This performance will feature soprano Audrey Luna taking on the Krenek work. The Cleveland Orchestra will also present music of Schulhoff and Still.

There will also be a concert entitled “Jazz Suite” with music of Martinů, Mary Lou Williams, Ligeti, and Antheil on May 15, 2020.