Arnold Schönberg's Erwartung - A Performance by Robin Rhode

Robin Rhode

Performa , Performa 15

Robin Rhode imagined Austrian composer Arnold Schönberg's Erwartung (Expectation) in Arnold Schönberg's Erwartung - A Performance by Robin Rhode for the first-ever live production of an opera in Times Square on November 7th and 8th at 5:00 pm on the Broadway Plaza between 42nd and 43rd Streets. This was in partnership with Performa15, the world’s largest performance art biennial.

Composed in 1909, Erwartung takes the unusual form of a one-act monodrama for a solo soprano, accompanied by a large orchestra. For Rhode, this atonal opera about love, loss, and lamentation, recalled the many hardships experienced by women in South Africa during and after the fall of Apartheid. The absentism caused by men who left home to seek employment in cities and gold mines, or those men who were either detained or who went into political exile, reminded the artist of the deep psychosis of loss and lamentation experienced by these women that so much reflected the mood of Schoenberg’s soprano character Die Frau.

Originally set in the moonlit, wilderness of the forest, Rhode’s reproduction of Arnold Schönberg's Erwartung - A Performance by Robin Rhode interpreted Times Square itself to be a contemporary forest filled with light emanating from the electronic billboards instead of the moon. The stage took the shape of an enlarged oval covered with paper that mimics the lightness and weightlessness of dried leaves in autumn. The performance took place in a huge aria with just one soprano and non-speaking performer carrying out the opera, with the sights and sounds of Times Square acting as a Greek Chorus in the background.

Conducted by Arturo Tamayo, Arnold Schönberg's Erwartung - A Performance by Robin Rhode was performed by the renowned French soprano Carole Sidney Louis.

Visitors to Times Square were able to either sit on the risers flanking each side of the performance or stop as they pass ed by. Arnold Schönberg's Erwartung - A Performance by Robin Rhode continued Rhode’s inventive use of public space, and activated the city streets in a unique way.

“In the original stage setting we encounter the soprano, at night, walking in a dark forest, her only light source is that of a moon that shines through the darkened branches of trees. I began to imagine Times Square as a setting for my 21st century version. The steel skyscrapers here act as dark, shimmering, tall trees in an imaginary urban forest, the bright neon ambient lights from the billboards becoming the moonlight for the soprano while she is in her hallucinatory, disordered mindset.” - Robin Rhode

Arnold Schönberg's Erwartung - A Performance by Robin Rhode
A Performa Commission

Composer  Arnold Schönberg
Artistic Director  Robin Rhode
Orchestral Conductor  Arturo Tamayo
Soprano  Carole Sidney Louis
Male Character  Moses Leo
Orchestra  Wet Ink Ensemble
Executive Producer  Raphael Oeschger
Associate Producers  PERFORMA and RHODEWORKS GmbH
#ErwartungTSq  #Performa15
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Co-presented by Times Square Arts and Performa and VIA Art Fund. VIA Logo
Photographs courtesy of Ka-Man Tse for @TSqArts.