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  • Author or Editor: Vanja LJUBIBRATIĆ x
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In 1996, Copenhagen was awarded the title European Capital of Culture. Amongst its most publicized events was the Danish and Scandinavian première of the complete version of Alban Berg’s opera Lulu. In this study, an oral history methodology is applied to draw conclusions regarding the significance, reception, and legacy of Lulu in Copenhagen from the perspectives of four Danish administrative leaders involved in this production, who, through interviews, reflected on this project within the context of Copenhagen’s cultural landscape. Their testimonies depict a narrative of how this production established a new perspective of opera in Copenhagen, as well as the innovation of performing opera at unique venues not usually associated with this genre. This phenomenon contributed to attracting a wider audience demographic, who would be less receptive to more traditional methods of opera staging. Furthermore, it was established by the Lulu project instigators that the production depicted Danish cultural identity, while simultaneously promoting an international cooperation and an international standard of artistic execution.

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In the German-speaking countries during the morally uninhibited years of the Weimar Republic, the opposing cultural epochs of Expressionism and Neue Sachlichkeit dominated the aesthetic landscape. Opera was a central proponent of both movements, as implemented by the Expressionist practitioners and those who favored the subsequent topical and objectifying Zeitoper that sought to move away from representations of psychological distortion to depict social realism that emphasized mechanical technology and lighter, popular narrative themes. Max Brand’s famous Zeitoper, Maschinist Hopkins, will be analyzed to illustrate how it bore fundamental trace elements back to Alban Berg’s Expressionist opera Wozzeck, and likewise, how Hopkins in turn influenced Berg’s second opera Lulu, to constitute a linear association of narrative, music, and theatrical design that simultaneously conformed to and defied the operatic models that all three operas are historically associated with. It will also be suggested that both composers were consequentially influenced by Richard Wagner, promoting vestiges of an even older lineage, which contributed to this association between the three operas at a time when Wagner was less applicable to the trends of innovation and progress.

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