Rainer Maria Rilke ranks as one of the greatest German-language lyricists ever and is widely acclaimed as one of the most accomplished practitioners of poetry in modern European history. Famed for his iconic cycle, The Duino Elegies, as well as for his Sonnets to Orpheus, Rilke’s aesthetic vision displayed a substantial classical education, tempered by an unorthodox treatment of complex themes like time, beauty and God. Often willfully obscure, intellectually unrelenting yet rhythmically mellifluous, his poems are noted for their humane wisdom and rewarding reflections. Though he wrote in German, he was born in Prague and spent much of his adult life living across Europe, including in France where he worked for the celebrated sculptor Rodin.
American composer Jake Heggie’s masterpiece raises monumental issues – but will it rise to the challenge of the Lincoln Center?