Roland fister turns “dorian gray” into a musical opera

Oscar wilde's novel "the picture of dorian gray is a scandalous literary masterpiece. Roland fister, conductor at the landestheater, has made a musical opera out of it. The premiere will take place on saturday in coburg.

Who quickly enters the piano excerpt from "dorian gray"? Purely blatant, stumbles again and again over clever changes of tact. How often did you, as a conductor, curse the composer roland fister during rehearsals??
Roland fister: maybe it was more necessary to ask how often the orchestra cursed the composer and conductor. The score is already demanding, more demanding than I had actually thought. But as a former percussionist, you don't think too much about changing the beat. And of course there is the fact that in the case of a premiere there are no reference recordings. The other challenge is the frequent changes of key.

From the inner ear to the stage: how close do inner imagination and theater reality come from the composer's point of view??
If we manage to do it the way it is notated in the score, it will sound like I imagined it would.

From the composer's point of view: what must a conductor look for in "dorian gray"? Pay special attention – besides the time signature changes?
If the basic structure is clear, i think it will fall in love quite well. Then it depends above all on the fact that the tonal balance functions. Because I have been well acquainted with the special acoustics of the landestheater for many years, I actually tried to take these conditions into account in the orchestration of the score. Actually, there were only a few moments in the rehearsal process where it was necessary to make adjustments.

What did you pay particular attention to in the orchestration??
I tried to make it sound as lean as possible, because there are many conversational passages that were difficult to understand if it was orchestrated too thickly.

How would you define your style in this work?? Do you have compositional models?
It is difficult to describe. What is opera, what is musical? From the structure, from the layout, it is more like an opera and then it can be compared with a verismo opera by puccini. In terms of tonality, it's more in the direction of musical or jazz harmony. And some passages can be described as roughly orchestrated film music, sometimes with a sound that comes a bit from bernstein. Maybe that's the closest.

When did you decide to write the text yourself??
Basically, I have tried to make a virtue out of necessity. When I started composing, I didn't have a librettist at hand whom I could ask. And in the beginning it was not at all clear whether it would become a work that would be performed. At the beginning I wrote this only for me.

In comparison to the novel, the textbook is naturally very concentrated on a few plot lines. How do you describe your dramaturgical approach??
At the very beginning, the decision was made to concentrate the novel's plot on five main characters. In the concept for the premiere, sibyl vane's brother has been added again as a silent role. The crucial thing was to focus on the question: where do the conflicts come from?? They come from the fact that each sees the other only as a projection surface of his needs.

What was your main work as a librettist??
This consisted of focusing more and more, leaving more and more out. When I was setting the first sections of the text to music, I quickly realized that I had to shorten the text even more. This worked out quite well for the further parts. I had to leave out relatively little in retrospect.

Did you really develop a taste for composing after "dorian gray"?? Are there perhaps already plans for further work?
Of course I have noticed that it can be really fun to compose. That's why it's clear to me now that I'll start again with the next piece just out of spab – not with the pressure of a performance. At the moment I don't have a concrete material yet. There were already a few ideas, but I have discarded them again. After all, it's all about finding material that I really want to spend a lot of time on. And I didn't want to have to deal with rights issues beforehand.

How did the performance material come about??
I wrote classically on music paper and then sent the pages to my father, who turned the material into music notation on the computer.

Was her father aware that he was embarking on a strenuous task??
I think so, because my father used to arrange the music himself, and in the principle knew how much work it would be. The only problem was that the music notation program makes a lot of mistakes when processing the text. That took a lot of time.

Your father will of course also come to the premiere?
He is now already at the orchestra rehearsals to correct any small mistakes in the orchestra parts.

How would you describe your nervous state shortly before the premiere??
Hard to say. I'm probably already nervous, but I don't notice it at all, because there's still a lot to sort out in my mind and I'm just wondering how I'm going to manage the rest of the time most effectively.

The composer, the work and its interpreters
premiere tip "dorian gray – "musical-opera", text and music by roland fister, 8. June, landestheater coburg; production: bodo busse; stage design and costume: michael heinrich.

Performances 14., 16., 20., 30. June , 10. July. Dorian gray" in the new season back on the program in september. The performance on 30. June is an additional performance. But the originally planned performance of the straub operetta "the gypsy baron" was cancelled without replacement. – theater box office: tel. 0 95 61/89 89 89.

After completing his studies in percussion, roland fister began studying conducting with peter gulke, which he completed with a diploma in 2000. Various master courses completed the training. Fister worked as assistant to thomas hengelbrock and yakov kreizberg. In 2001, fister was hired as a conductor at the landestheater.

This is what oscar wildes novel "the portrait of dorian gray" is about, published as a book in 1891, tells the story of a young man who envies his own image for not having to age. His wish that this portrait would age in his place comes true for him with gruesome consequence. For his libretto, composer roland fister reduced the novel to its central plot elements and at the same time added a prologue and epilogue set in the sotheby's auction house.

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