Stefan Wolpe - Zeus und Elida op.5a« back to the biography
Performed: 28/29 June 1997, Amsterdam (worldpremière)
9 September 2002, Berlin
Zeus und Elida tells of Zeus who descends from heaven and lands on the Potsdamer Platz during rush hour, only to fall for a passing whore (Elida) who he mistakes for his beloved Europe (who he once kidnapped and possessed in the disguise of a bull, but who then fled from him).
The confusion of tongues between the archaic Zeus and the whore with her coarse Berlin dialect is considerable, culminating in complete traffic chaos which a public prosecutor brings to an end by sweeping clean the entire square.
The music is a sequence of strongly stylised jazz numbers, including a charleston, tango, boston, csardas and a sparkling potpourri to end. The popular, tonal idiom is mercilessly distorted into Wolpe's sharp, atonal style.
Like Schöne Geschichten, we found the manuscript in the New York Public Library. The work had never been played, and the semi-scenic performance by the Ebony Band in 1997 was therefore the world premiere.