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Music Text

Libretto by Helmut Krausser (E)


Major roles: S,M,T,Bar; Small roles: 2T,2Bar, cabaret singers, actor
2(I&II=picc,II=afl).2(II=corA).3(I=asax,II=tsax,III=bcl).dbcl.2(II=dbn)-2.2.2(II=btrbn).0-perc(2):timp/glsp/vib/xyl/African Marimba/t.bells/gongs/cel/2SD/BD(lg)/Drum kit/5cyms(2 lg)/2wdbl(lg)/log dr/tom-t/bongos/whip/maracas/tgl/bells/2 hi metals/cast/guiro/tamb/chains/2cowbells/lion's roar/(hi resonant) iron/hi.bell(unpitched)/Rattle or rasp-pft-harp-synth-elec gtr.bass gtr-strings(min.

Abbreviations (PDF)


Boosey & Hawkes

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.


World Premiere
Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, CA
Pierre Audi, director
Conductor: Reinbert de Leeuw
Company: Los Angeles Philharmonic


Athanasius Kircher Baritone
A boy of about 12 years Soprano
Papa Innocenzo XI Tenor
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Mezzo soprano
Janssonius, Kircher's publisher in Amsterdam speaking role (pre-recorded)
The Carnifex, the hangman of Rome Baritone
Voltaire, Descartes Tenors
Goethe, Leibniz Baritones
The sceptic and critic Raffaele Fabretti silent role
Three Witches cabaret singers
He and She (a couple of young secret lovers) cabaret singers
Press Quotes

"The opera takes the aged Athanasius Kircher on a time-travelling journey back through the important events of his life, on which he is guided by a boy who may be an angel or an apprentice devil, even perhaps a reincarnation of the scholar himself as a young man... There are elements of allusiveness and surreal fantasy to Kircher's adventures and encounters, which seem to take place in a Bosch-like world of grotesques..."

"...a dizzying work that's vast in its scope yet unerringly claustrophobic. Musically, it is brilliant and deep... Andriessen is the great argumentative opera composer of our day... a clear-eyed Dutch sceptic and humanist who surfs the alarmingly narrow arteries that separate life from death, wisdom from belief, the known from the unknown... Andriessen's music compels from start to finish."
Los Angeles Times

"Using a mixture of languages, children's songs, Baroque music, jazz and modernism, it's a dizzying kaleidoscopic creation from a master of stagecraft."
BBC Music Magazine



Recommended Recording

Leigh Melrose / Lindsay Kesselman / Cristina Zavalloni / Los Angeles Philharmonic /
Reinbert de Leeuw
Nonesuch 561784

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