Christian Klinkenberg’s Microtonal Opera “Das Kreuz der Verlobten”

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Christian Klinkenberg’s first opera Das Kreuz der Verlobten (The Cross of the Engaged) was premiered in February 2017. Western music theory operates within the boundaries of a 12 tone octave. By splitting up the octave into microtones however, a composer is given a broader array of possibilities. Possibly infinite possibilities. How to deal with infinity? Can the ratios of the harmonic series provide us with a framework? The composer also used graphical notation to make microtonality more intuitive for the musicians.


In the presentation, examples of microtonal techniques will be explained with the support of video excerpts of the first performance of the opera.

The story of the opera: Marie Solheid and François Reiff are probably the most famous victims of the High Fens (Hohes Venn), a huge moor area in the Ardennes: In the summer of 1870, during the fair in the village of Jalhay, Belgium, two young people meet. Soon, they are yearning the wedding. In January 1871, Marie and Francois make their way to Xhoffraix, Maries birth-place, in order to get her marriage papers. But then they’re surprised by a severe snowstorm. Weeks later, on March 22, 1871, the body of the 24-year-old Maria Solheid is found …

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