We are all aware that the world is constantly changing. Our environment is changing, our life is changing, we are changing. Constantly and perpetually. Very often, we are not all too happy about that. For we would like everything to stay the way it used to be, so that we know what is going on, feel safe and have to worry less. Of course, this is an illusion – and a dangerous one at that because we have very little influence on the transformations occurring around us. People in antiquity already understood that and they did what has characterised the human experience ever since: capturing the world in pictures and stories, in faith and art, to give meaning to it.
One of the most influential works of art in human history that has been read and retold over and over again for the past two-thousand years has the changeability of the world as its central theme: Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”, his “transformations”. The Roman poet tells nothing less than the complete history of the world – from its creation out of chaos to his own life. His narration is so brimming with images and stories that it still fascinates us today: Jupiter turning into a swan to seduce the beautiful Leda, Daphne being turned into a laurel tree to flee Apollo’s advances, Midas who made everything he touched turn into gold. Generations of artists have drawn inspiration from these transformations and have retold them time and again, painted them on canvasses, carved them in stone and, of course, turned them into music. The 2019 styriarte takes up this motif and will be TRANSFORMED in itself.
Of course, Ovid’s Metamorphoses were a source of inspiration particularly for the baroque world with its fondness for vivid imagery and stories. It is hardly surprising that Johann Joseph Fux turned the poetic story of Daphne into music at the Viennese imperial court. The 2019 styriarte will use this material to continue its Fux.OPERNFEST: a celebration that gives the opera a traditionally festive and entertaining setting. From walking in the footprints of Venus and Adonis at Schloss Eggenberg, tracking Diana and Actaeon while they hunt, or at picnics and styriarte outings: in 2019, the styriarte – more than ever – strives to develop new formats that present music in a way that brings its message and intentions to life.
Ovid was obviously not the only one who explored the theme of transformations. Fairy tales and legends are full of stories describing the state of the world in vivid pictures. The styriarte turns these stories into lyrics and music. The concept of transformation is ever-present in music too, which is why the styriarte presents one of the most important sets of variations in the history of music: Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Goldberg Variations”. The result is a festival full of stories and music that promises to leave every guest transformed.