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Canto General
by Mikis Theodorakis based on texts by Pablo Neruda
Berliner Singakademie
main stage


With: Berliner Singakademie, instrumental ensemble, Klaudia Zeiner (alto), Daniel Ochoa (baritone)

Conductor: Achim Zimmermann
Spreaker: Winnie Böwe

Renowned Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) began his large-scale lyrical epic poem in 1938, and didn't finish it until 1950, while he was living in exile in Mexico. It describes the creation of the Latin American continent, its plant and animal worlds, the appearance of humans, its conquest by the conquistadors, attempts at liberation through numerous uprisings and the hope for independence. To this day, the work enjoys the utmost admiration in many Latin-American countries, it has a virtually identity-forming function. In 1971 Pablo Neruda was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

His friendship with Neruda led Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis to set the Canto to music, which also garnered it a new significance with the establishment of democracy in Greece after the military dictatorship ended in 1974. The premiere was planned for 1973 in Chile, but it was prevented by the military putsch. Thus it was only premiered in parts in Paris in 1974. In the end it achieved renown through a legendary performance with Maria Farantouri as soloist in the Karaiskakis stadium in Athens. The world premiere of the entire Canto took place in East Berlin in April 1981.

Musically the work is a mixture of delicate texts, nearly liturgical passages and an eerie, dramatic-rhythmic monumentality. It's the most frequently performed oratorio in contemporary music.

The Berliner Singakademie music society is performing the work in its first arrangement (flute, guitar, bass, piano and drums).

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