“Rome! Rome! Almighty Rome!” This is the cry that runs through Jan Müller-Wieland’s oratorio Maria like a cantus firmus. State tyranny, power and impotence, expulsion and persecution – these are all themes that resonate in the text, which the composer wrote in association with Johanna Wokalek. At the same time the story retains a profound sense of humanity: Maria is no remote saint here. Her hesitation and her questioning, her fear, her joy and her anger affect us directly, not least as a result of the clear and immediate language.
And when the choir, as the Holy Ghost, murmurs and whispers, sings and screams, claps and hisses and when the orchestra lights up the words and individual syllables with its iridescent tone colours, then the story acquires a musical plasticity that catapults the events straight into the present day.
The world premiere of Maria took place as part of the Ruhrtriennale on 23 September 2018 under the direction of Thomas Hengelbrock.