World premiere: 25 October, 2013, Vienna
Neue Oper Wien production
Amadeus Ensemble Wien
Conductor: Walter Kobéra
Staging: Johannes Erath
Based on the text of Albert Ostermaier
Libretto: Mari Mezei and Peter Eötvös
The fallen angel Lucifer believes that there is a „bug” in God’s creation, Lilith, Adam’s first wife is of a similar opinion. She was banished from Paradise, as she had revolted against Adam’s claim to power. She was his equal, created from clay, just like him. Adam does not remain alone for long, a new companion is created from his ribs, the docile Eve. Urged by Lilith, Lucifer understands that his only chance to get even with God is manipulate Adam: through time travel, Lucifer shows the ancestors of mankind what future awaits their descendants. Would it not be better, if man was not to come to be at all?
Contrasting characters, a journey from prehistoric times to the future, from Paradise to all kinds of human hells – Peter Eötvös’ colourful and expressive music makes this story shine in its diversity. Already in his earlier opera The Tragedy of the Devil, the Hungarian composer focussed on the issues brought up by the Biblical book of Genesis. Although there the devil Lucifer is in the centre of the plot, in Eötvös’ composition Paradise Reloaded (Lilith), premiered in 2013, the iridescent figure of the first woman is in focus, who – though she is regarded as a demon herself – manages to put the devil himself in his place. Who is the actual mother of humanity: the submissive Eve or the self-determined Lilith? Or do the children of both mothers live among us?
Lucifer and three other angels have been cast out of heaven, and now he writes a farewell letter to God trying to practise great self-discipline. Lilith enters the scene but Lucifer does not see her. She whispers in his ear that Adam would be his last chance to take revenge on God. Lucifer and Lilith decide to find Adam and guide him through the desert.
In paradise, Eve takes a bite of the forbidden fruit. The bitter taste leads her to think that it was real life and she wants to have a glimpse behind the mirrors of paradise. Adam tries to appease her insisting that all is well as it is. Lilith and Lucifer arrive at this point and urge Adam and Eve to follow them to see the true paradises.
Adam and Eve wander through the desert like two vagrants. They are hungry and thirsty. Angel C appears and asks Eva for a kiss in exchange for a drop of water. As Angel A points out that the right of the first night is God’s, Angel B declares that Eve should be delivered back to God. Lucifer and Lilith act as border guards, and Adam learns from them that God has taken Eve back. While Adam is warned by the heavenly choir not treat God as if he was his equal, Lucifer encourages him to do just that. He offers him a pact: If you make man better than he is, you will be the victor. If you lose faith in humanity, though, the devil will take hold of you.
People demonstrate against the general on the streets, the women demand that their sons should return from the war. Eve acts as the son of the general, Lilith as his wife. When Adam comes back from a battle as the general, he has to admit that the women’s sons have been killed in action. When the people request that the general should be executed, Eve wants to sacrifice herself for him. Lucifer objects, as it was not part of his original plans. He leads the others to the next world.