Neuwirth – The Outcast

Neuwirth – The Outcast

On the occasion of her 50th birthday, two large projects by Olga Neuwirth were premiered in November at the Vienna Konzerthaus in the framework of Wien Modern: Die Stadt ohne Juden (The City without Jews), a new film score for the recently restored silent movie by H. K. Breslauer, as well as a revised version of Neuwirth’s musicstallation-theatre piece The Outcast.

The Outcast

This new production of her homage to Herman Melville pushes the concert-format boundaries with an elaborate multi-screen video installation by the British director Netia Jones. For the premiere at the Vienna Konzerthaus under the baton Ilan Volkov, the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra was joined by top-flight soloists including Andrew Watts, Susanne Elmark, Otto Katzameier and the actor Johan Leysen. In March 2019, Melville’s bicentenary year, the work will receive its German premiere at the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie.

Picture of The Outcast by Olga Neuwirth at Wien Modern
The Outcast, WP at Wien Modern

The Outcast (2008-2010/2012)

Homage to Herman Melville.
a musicstallation-theater
Revised version
With monologues for Old Melville by Anna Mitgutsch
Libretto by Barry Gifford and Olga Neuwirth

A co-production between ORF RSO Wien, Wien Modern, Wiener Konzerthaus and Elbphilharmonie Hamburg. With the kind support of the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung.

S.Boys S.Ct.T.2Bar.3Act.Chansonnier -
Boys Chr.Men Chr - - -
2perc - synth.e-git.acc - - el
Duration: 90'
WP: 14.11.2018, Vienna


14.11.2018 (WP)
ORF RSO Wien, Ilan Volkov (cond.); Wiener Konzerthaus, Vienna

4.3.2019 (NP)
ORF RSO Wien, Ilan Volkov (cond.); Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg

26.9.2022 (NP)
Ensemble intercontemporain, Orchestre du Conservatoire de Paris, Matthias Pintscher (cond.); Elbphilharmonie, Philharmonie de Paris

Picture of The Outcast by Olga Neuwirth at Wien Modern
Olga Neuwirth at the world premiere of The Outcast (Wien Modern, 2018)

Press quotes

Neuwirth has written great roles, and singers such as Danish soprano Susanne Elmark as Ishmaela, Otto Katzameier as Captain Ahab, the countertenor Andrew Watts as Queequeg and the boy soprano Joel Beer as Pip took full advantage of them. Neuwirth fully grasps the possibilities offered by solo voices, two choruses, speaking roles and orchestra, piling up powerful and effective music in rising, cresting waves while also interspersing smaller effects – for example, working the strains of an electric guitar through the swelling material or evoking the voice of Klaus Nomi. This is intelligent music, confident in its effects and whetting the appetite for the composer’s Orlando, commissioned by the Vienna State Opera and announced for December 2019.
Salzburger Nachrichten, 15.11.2018

The music suggests a collage: there are gleaming surfaces of sound underlaying vocal writing of siren-like beauty as well as naturalistic birdsong; the church musical sound of boys’ choirs brings an element of innocence. Organ, accordion and electric guitar add dashes of colour and trigger associations. There are comic touches, both discreet (muted trumpets) and knee-slapping (Stayin’ Alive). At times the sea is brightly sunny and silvery, at others dark and threatening, even sharply metallic.
Der Standard, 19.11.2018

Has the political feminist Olga Neuwirth produced a Gesamtkunstwerk? The critic and film composer Hanns Eisler once polemically asserted that this Wagnerian concept required the audience to leave their brains in the cloakroom. Olga Neuwirth, on the other hand, requires them to think. One should have read the libretto beforehand in order to understand her and gain a real impression from her music-installation in the darkened space – and from the white whale that plunges the ship into the ocean’s depths at the end.
Falter, November 2018

Picture of The Outcast by Olga Neuwirth at Wien Modern
The Outcast, WP at Wien Modern

Score of The Outcast

Photos: Markus Sepperer (The Outcast)