The Kreutzer

“The New Zealand String Quartet gave a passionate, idiomatic performance of the ..Janacek Quartet..”

Rod Biss, New Zealand Opera News

June 2009

A theatrical tour de force, The Kreutzer combines dance-theatre, live classical music and an interactive audio-visual feast. The work is based on an original idea by Peter Barber and has been adapted and directed by Sara Brodie.

A portrayal of the depth and consequence of jealousy and lust, The Kreutzer centres on a man tormented by the haunting presence of his dead wife. Driven to confessing all, we journey into his corrupt and jealous past, to examine the divergent ways men and women often perceive each other.

The Kreutzer is based on the famous Kreutzer Sonata by Beethoven, a novella by Tolstoy and Leoš Janácek’s first string quartet. The Kreutzer unites all three works, breaking the confines between performance genres.

The New Zealand String Quartet joined the cast of The Kreutzer for performance seasons at the Auckland Festival 2009 and the Christchurch Arts Festival 2009. The members of the Quartet became actors in the piece, while playing Janacek’s first string quartet.

The Kreutzer is a Stage Left production. For more information or to book this show, go to The Kreutzer website.

The Story

A Man on a train who has accused music of being the “most refined form of sensual lust” is tormented by a String Quartet. They return him to a drawing room, the scene of a crime. He is haunted by the presence of a woman – a Pianist, Dancer and Wife. Supplied with a camera and evidence of his past life he tries to save us from a voyeur’s fate. Love, marriage, the arts, education and family are not excused from his scrutiny. All that is beautiful is tainted and corrupted.

The String Quartet is unmoved by his nightmarish confessional and his moralising crumples. The musicians are relentless in driving him towards a re-enactment of the night his Wife and a visiting Violinist played Beethoven’s masterpiece, the Kreutzer Sonata. We learn how appreciation turned to jealousy and music became the catalyst that lead him to murder the woman he loved.

The Audience

The Kreutzer has cross-over appeal. For theatre audiences, technically complex chamber music becomes accessible and sexy. Conversely, for chamber music aficionados, the production presents revered works in an entirely unique and physical way.

What the critics said:

"electrifying theatre."
Timothy Jones, The Christchurch Press

"...marvelous integration of music, theatre, dance and design."
Raewyn White, NZ Herald

The New Zealand String Quartet gratefully acknowledges its sponsors and funders