A musical milestone, a contemporary, mould-breaking paradigm

“I believe I am approaching a new form of expression,” wrote Schoenberg in his diary on 12 March 1912. He had just found the solution for composing Pierrot Lunaire.

Written in 1912 and based on the German translation of the Symbolist poems of Albert Giraud, it is in many ways a transgressive work and conjures up an unusual atmosphere.

Schoenberg used a singing style known as Sprechgesang, a curious blend of speech and singing which works in conjunction with the music and mysteriously complements the states of mind reflected in the poems. The music is atonal but not dodecaphonic, and though Pierrot is male, his role is usually sung and recited by a female voice. The Liceu has taken a new approach by inviting the countertenor Xavier Sabata to play the part.

Despite its underlying mathematical structure (the three sets of seven poems, for instance), Pierrot Lunaire creates an impression of total freedom and of floating weightlessly. It was a musical milestone, a contemporary, mould-breaking paradigm which changed the course of musical history and had many imitators.

On a set designed for the Foyer by the group, Xavier Sabata will recreate the atmosphere of a Berlin cabaret which permeates the score itself. Sabata, a deeply committed artist, will transport us to the limits of human emotion: the unwholesome obsession with a loved one, the decapitating power of the blade-shaped crescent moon, and Pierrot's hankering for his native Italy. His voice and acting skills are ideally suited to Schoenberg's buffoon-hero Pierrot.

PARADISE: memories of a happier past in the midst of an obsessive disorder  

  • Approximate running time 1h (without interval)

Artistic profile

Countertenor, stage director and production concept
Xavier Sabata
Set and lighting
Maria C. de Vaca
Francesc Prat
Ensemble of the Symphony Orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu


CountertenorXavier Sabata

November 2021


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