A man who’s lost the love of his life wanders through the winterscape, seeking solace. He trudges through Times Square, in a blizzard. Across the Bonneville salt flats of Utah. Into a cheap hotel room in Houston: journeys that take place across a backdrop crumpled (like him), yet bathed in video that externalizes the longing of his haunting, grief-stricken song.
This probably isn’t what Franz Schubert had in mind when he penned Winterreise in 1827. Schubert’s most famous song cycle scores 24 poems by German poet (and Imperial Librarian) Wilhelm Müller. On the surface, Winterreise is a deceptively minimalist work from the Romantic composer, one that calls for a single male singer and accompanying pianist. But as the renowned baritone and visual artist David Adam Moore notes, that simplicity leaves a lot of room to reimagine Schubert's final masterpiece.
“Schubert didn’t leave much in the text that refers to a specific time and place, that locks it into an era," says Moore. "It’s a universal story—a break-up story.”
On February 9, Moore—a founder of New York-based multimedia collective GLMMR—brings his version of Winterreise to the Hampton Opera Center for a five-performance production presented by Portland Opera. Accompanying Moore on piano throughout will be Portland Opera chorus master Nicholas Fox.
But unlike more traditional renditions of Winterreise, don’t—to paraphrase Fox—expect to spend 70 minutes with eyes trained on one vocalist standing next to a piano. Instead, Moore will be moving, quite literally, through an existential crisis perfectly suited to this hibernal time, from “Die Wetterfahne” (“the Weathervane”) to “Frühlingstraum” (“Dream of Spring”), as 3D projection mapping overlays video across a brand-new set (making its debut here in Portland) that evokes the as-yet unwritten pages of the protagonist’s life.
“It’s rare enough to hear Winterreise live,” says Fox. “For many people, it's a cathartic life-changing experience. But it's even more rare to hear it reimagined like this. This is an event in Portland’s artistic life. And, we have wine!”
Various times Feb 9–17, Hampton Opera Center, $65