A new opera by Philip Glass has its world premiere in the Austrian city of Linz on 20 September. Titled Kepler it is based around the life of the German astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571-1630). The libretto is the work of Martina Winkel, an Austrian writer, and the performance will be conducted by Dennis Russell Davies. For further info go to www.linz09.at/kepler
Kepler lived through dramatic times. When he died in 1630 Europe was in the grip of the Thirty Years War, the devastating struggle for religious supremacy in central Europe. In 1617 his mother was even tried and convicted as a witch. Kepler was deeply religious but was able to combine his beliefs with radical scientific inquiry that laid the foundations of modern astronomy.
The scientist previously attracted the attention of the twentieth-century German composer Paul Hindemith. His opera Die Harmonie der Welt (Harmony of the World) was premiered in 1957 and the title refers to a book by Kepler titled Harmonice mundi.
The mix between political turmoil, the search for knowledge and the perennial struggle between the individual and society is a potent one. We look forward with keen anticipation to what Philip Glass makes of it.