Theater as problem: modern drama and its influence on Ligeti, Pousseur and Berio.

Ottomano, Vincenzina (26 November 2016). Theater as problem: modern drama and its influence on Ligeti, Pousseur and Berio. (Unpublished). In: New Music Theatre in Europe: Transformations between 1955-1975. Venice. 26.-27. Nov. 2016.

Full text not available from this repository. (Request a copy)

My contribution aims at exploring the interest showed by avant-garde composers such as Ligeti, Pousseur and Berio for the most innovative notions of theatre and dramatic theories. Driven by sometimes diametrically opposed motivations, these three composers have turned to spoken theatre in an attempt to rethink the approach to the problem of dramaturgy and stage space. Therefore, this paper will track the influence these ideas had in defining the new musical dramaturgies in the second half of the twentieth century.
With his early theatrical experimentation in Aventures and Nouvelles Aventures, Ligeti shows particular interest for the relationship between text and music and between music and language. As it is clear from his own writings, the fragmentation of language and concentration on the emotional level of the language featured in these compositions is inspired by literary models (Joyce, Dada poetry), musical models (the experiments of Kagel and Berio) but also theatrical ones (especially Ionesco and Beckett). The reference to the theatre of the absurd becomes more evident in the second purely theatrical work by Ligeti: Le grand macabre. The model of Ghelderode’s play (anticipating Beckett and Ionesco) provides the composer with an ideal occasion to combine a dreamlike vision of reality with a poetics of nonsense.
My second example will examine the dramatic theories expressed by Butor and Pousseur with regards to their Notre Faust. In particular, I will focus on the concept of "openness" of the work and on the ''plea to the participation" of the audience. The two authors based these two concepts not only on previous musical experiences (e.g. Pousseur’s Scambi), but especially on the theories of theatre put forward by Brecht and by Ernst Bloch in The Principle of Hope.
The last part of my paper will focus on some theoretical writings by Luciano Berio, which tackle the issue of contemporary musical theatre and especially his idea of "theatre". Berio demonstrates a dialectical relationship to the dramatic theories that encompass both the fundamental distinction between "epic theatre" and "dramatic theatre" — exposed by Brecht in Notes to the opera Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny — and the latest theories about modern and contemporary theatre, in particular the definition of “death of tragedy” and the birth of metatheatre postulated by Lionel Abel.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Musicology

UniBE Contributor:

Ottomano, Vincenzina


700 Arts > 780 Music




Vincenzina Ottomano

Date Deposited:

13 Jun 2017 16:57

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:04


Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback