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World Premiere of Agata Zubel's Cleopatra's Songs

May. 03, 2018

World Premiere of Agata Zubel's <em>Cleopatra's Songs</em>

The world premiere of Agata Zubel’s Cleopatra’s Songs for voice and instrumental ensemble took place on April 27 in Witten, Germany during the Wittener Tage für Neue Kammermusik. The premiere performance was broadcast by WDR3 Radio and featured the composer as soprano soloist with Klangforum Wien, led by Emilio Pomárico. The work was inspired by the now-legendary love story of Antony and Cleopatra, with the composer utilizing fragments from the text of Shakespeare’s drama.

Cleopatra’s Songs was commissioned by Klangforum Wien and is dedicated to that ensemble. This is the second work, after What is the Word (2012), that Klangforum Wien has commissioned from Agata Zubel. While composing Cleopatra’s Songs, Agata Zubel noted her sources of inspiration:

“[They are] inspired by
– a time that no one can remember;
– a feeling that history obscures with the cynicism of mercantile interpretations;
– a legend that is more powerful than history;
– the words of a bard who wove HER life into the richest of poetry;
– a country which, though today submerged, still intoxicates the imagination with its splendor;
– and finally HER herself – the queen, the goddess: intelligent, imperious, charismatic, daring, extravagant, clever, hard, eloquent, full of energy, courage, wisdom, ambition, determined, proud, steadfast, rich, stubborn, pampered, peerless.

Though the true picture – like the sound – has irretrievably escaped.

There is also much that we are not able to understand. But the gaps are conducive to our – still and yet again – yielding all the more to its mythical charm. Brilliance and greatness. Personality.

To the very end, she loved.”

This year has been an extraordinary one for Agata Zubel who celebrated her fortieth birthday on January 25. In addition to Cleopatra’s Songs, we are looking forward to sharing news of several newly commissioned works during the coming season.

Listen to Agata Zubel’s Not I (2010) here:

(Not I/Agata Zubel/Qaartsiluni Ensemble and Agata Zubel, vocals/Lajos Rozman, conductor)

To learn more about Agata Zubel, please visit

Agata Zubel
Cleopatra’s Songs (2018)
for voice and ensemble