aus LICHT - part 1:

Karlheinz Stockhausen,
Holland Festival, De Nationale Opera, Koninklijk Conservatorium Den Haag

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A marathon performance will be staged of a large portion of the LICHT cycle, composed by Karlheinz Stockhausen. Featuring selected highlights from the seven operas – one for each day of the week – it will offer a spectacular overview of Stockhausen's masterpiece. The three parts of aus LICHT can also be visited seperately. 

Archangel Michael is the central figure in the first part of aus LICHT, which consists of scenes from DONNERSTAG aus LICHT. This is the shortest and most narrative of the three parts of aus LICHT. It includes MICHAELs JUGEND and MICHAELs REISE UM DIE ERDE – about Michael’s childhood with a mentally-ill mother and a father who cannot cope with life, his life-changing discovery of music and his cosmic journey in search of Eve. Michael, Lucifer and Eve appear in various forms: as singers, dancers and basset-horn, trompet and trombone players. The audience is immersed in a monumental musical universe with the electronic work UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE as the epilogue, played over eight speakers surrounding the audience.

Program part 1*


interval (9.00 - 10.00 pm)


interval (11.15 - 11.30 pm)

electronic composition (11.30 pm - 00.15 am) 

All compositions are from DONNERSTAG.

* times with reservation
** electronic compositions for dedicated listeners in particular

Elucidation part 1

Michael’s musical DNA is a thirteen-tone formula; one more than the twelve black and white keys of a piano octave. Two whole scenes

of the opera DONNERSTAG are devoted to Michael’s youth with his mentally-unbalanced mother and a father ill-equipped to deal with life. Michael passes an examination to enter the conservatory and is reborn as a musician. 

Cosmic journey
In MICHAELs REISE UM DIE ERDE, Michael travels around the world, mocked and ridiculed along the way, and eventually meets Eve, his true love. Leaving the Earth behind, they undertake a cosmic journey and musical joining. In these scenes the opera’s protagonists reveal that they can take on various guises – of dancers, trumpet and horn players, but also of musical abstractions manifested in familiar melodic ‘formulae’. Eve and Michael also adopt various roles, from mother and son to lovers.

Invisible choirs
The audience is swept into a musical universe where invisible choirs fill the space. This opera is presaged by a brief overture, the DONNERSTAGS-GRUSS, and concludes with the ABSCHIED, played by five trumpets dispersed in the space.

Most scenic and narrative
This first opera is the most scenic and narrative of the trilogy, with the cycle growing more ritualistic as Stockhausen progressed.



Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007) was a German composer. He is considered to be one of the most influential composers of the second half of the 20th century.

Stockhausen (1928-2007) studied piano, musicology, philosophy and German linguistics. In the late 1940s he harboured ambitions to become a writer, even receiving letters of encouragement from Hermann Hesse. It was not until 1950 that he began taking lessons in composition with the Swiss composer Frank Martin, and subsequently a summer course in new music at Darmstadt in 1951, where he became fascinated with serialism. The following year he studied under Messiaen in Paris and composed several groundbreaking works that catapulted him to the forefront of new music. 

From the mid-1950s onwards, Stockhausen achieved major artistic successes with his freer interpretation of serialist principles. He experimented with electronic music at the WDR studio in Cologne (of which he was director in the 1960s), and elsewhere with the position of the orchestra and audience, with extreme tempos and with music from all over the world. In 1964 an ensemble was formed to focus solely on the performance of his works, and in 1970 he established his own publishing company.

During the 1970s Stockhausen’s music took on a cosmic dimension, expressing his sense of kinship with the cosmos, nature and fellow man. His Licht (1977-2003) is a cycle of seven monumental operas spanning the seven days of the week and intended to encapsulate the whole of life. From 2003 until his death, Stockhausen subsequently worked on Klang, a comparable cycle on the hours of the day.


Background information aus LICHT

aus LICHT is a selection of key sections of Karlheinz Stockhausen's LICHTcycle. From the whole work's 29 hours of music, the production will comprise 15 hours performed over three days,

capturing the whole tonal universe of the original cycle. 

The three concerts, which together last more than 15 hours, can be viewed individually, but to experience the work in its full and unparalleled brilliance we recommend attending all three.

As the first-ever staging of such a large part of the LICHT cycle (over half of the full opera cycle), the unique nature and scale of this project make it a truly world-class operatic and musical theatre production.

More background information?

Please read the essay Stockhausen in the twenty first century by Jochem Valkenburg (Programming Director music & music theatre of the Holland Festival). 

Or check the 'magazine' on the official website



musical direction
Kathinka Pasveer
Pierre Audi
sets and light
Urs Schönebaum
Wojciech Dziedzic
Chris Kondek, Robi Voigt
Renee Jonker
Klaus Bertisch
musical and dramaturgical consultant
Suzanne Stephens-Janning
educational advisor
Cristiano Melli
Adrian Heger
artistic producer / coordinator
Sigi Giesler
soloists, instrumental soloists, dancers, students from the MA aus LICHT, students Royal Conservatoire The Hague
remaining credits part 1

This performance was made possible with support by