Conductor: "The Little Match Girl" is Like Dreams, Powerful

Jun 1, 2016

Spoleto Festival USA's Resident Conductor & Director of Orchestral Activities, John Kennedy.
Credit Julia Lynn Photography

Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s sobering tale, Helmut Lachenmann's opera, The Little Match Girl, explores the character's last moments as she gazes into the dreams and memories conjured by the flames of the matched she lights in a vain attempt to keep from freezing to death. Working in collaboration with visual artists, Blind Summit Theatre and Improbable theater company, 106 members of the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra perform this astonishingly evocative score, full of clicks, crackles, knocks, and hisses, under the baton of John Kennedy.

Lachenmann departs from traditional performance techniques in order to create a frigid atmosphere—a nearly meteorological effect—both animating the match girl’s world and contemplating the coldness of a society that would let a child freeze.

Spoleto Festival USA's Resident Conductor & Director of Orchestral Activities, John Kennedy talks with Kate McKinney about this extraordinary work.

  

A performance of "The Little Match Girl."
Credit Julia Lynn Photography