Visio Stephani - oder wie der heilige Stephanus zu Tode kam; für Bariton und Orgel auf einen Text von Eva Tobler
In his narrative of the experiences of the early Christians, St Luke the Evangelist tells in the Acts of the Apostles of the fate of Stephen. The young community of Christians elected him to be their deacon, in order better to fulfil their social tasks. As a devout man 'full of mercy and strength', he is also said to have performed 'signs and miracles' (Acts 6,8). In the writings of the early Christians, references to miracles are often no more than a symbolic expression of the close relationship of a man to God. This relationship, however also means being separated, distant, not understood by those who cannot open themselves to the Other that is God. As one of the first Christians, and thus still strongly integrated in Judaism, Stephen can represent for us the archetypal martyr for his beliefs, regardless of his own religion. This interpretation of Stephen formed the basic idea for the libretto. Stephen's fate is not that of a single man, but is rather a vision. That is why the composer Ulrich Gasser declares: 'The baritone sings the text mostly in the first person. However, he is not Stephen, but merely a voice that reminds us of him. He tells the story, and does so in an empathetic manner and, at times, full of inner tension. But he does not accuse or judge. Rather does he ponder on the matter at hand, sometimes in deep sadness. The organ acts as his fundamental opponent - as the world, the crowd, power, everything that sent Stephen to his death. But it is also a place of hope, of upliftment, of a reflection of the promised salvation.
Ulrich Gasser (*1950)
Bernhard Bichler, Bariton, Claus G. Biegert, Orgel
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