Opera: Out of the Wilderness

"Now, in the crowd, destruction, self-immolation. Everything that can be is hurled around: swords, daggers, axes, lances, jars, tools, etc. Some, frenzied, fall upon swords; others leap into the fire, then streak burning across the stage. An orgy of sexual excess. A naked youth darts forward, seizes a girl, rips the clothes from her. Many men do likewise, stripping themselves, stripping women, bearing them off."

As orgies go, it is a humdinger; but as opera, it presents certain problems of staging. No one realized this more than Composer Arnold Schoenberg, who wrote the directions for the orgy as a climax to...

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