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an Opera-Oratorio in Two Acts by Ståle Kleiberg
The Biblical story of David and Bathsheba has a lot of present-day relevance. In this story, individual emotions interact with political actions and their consequences. Fundamental ethical questions are thus being raised, on the macro- as well as the microlevel. And not least, the story illustrates how these two levels may be connected.
This is certainly also the case in Ståle Kleiberg’s opera-oratorio “David and Bathsheba”, where form and content embody the multi-layered complexity that makes up a great work of art. Yet the music is highly communicative, speaking to a broad audience in a direct and immediate way.
From the opening bars, Kleiberg’s music establishes a very particular orchestral and harmonic colour, one effect of which is to ’place’ the events beyond our reach. It would be trivial to describe this distancing of the action as a mode of exoticism, but there is nonetheless a whiff of the East about the tone of the work, evocative of the time and a distant place. This is anything but a retreat into some oneiric fantasy world, removed from our contemporary reality. Rather the remoteness of the setting, together with Kleiberg’s non-naturalistic approach to the drama, gives the work something of the character of myth. This enables it to speak to us as all myths speak to us, of deeper truths.