News, What to Watch
Oct 1, 2020

Liev Schreiber Narrates the Online Premiere of a Modern Translation of Beethoven’s Egmont, Performed By Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and Soprano Karen Slack

Speaking Truth to Poweris an online performance of Beethoven’s Egmont, Op. 84 featuring the world premiere of an incisive new Orpheus-commissioned English translation, adapted for the current day, by Philip Boehm. A rare performance of the full set of incidental pieces, the concert is narrated by celebrated actor Liev Schreiber with the soprano part sung by Karen Slack The concert will be available for six days online in Idagio’s Global Concert Hall, as part of Orpheus’ ongoing partnership with the streaming platform. 

Speaking Truth To Power will air on October 17 at 8pm Et/5pm PT. Karen Slack, an advocate for racial equity in the arts, joins legendary baritone Thomas Hampson in conversation on Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 1:00pm ETto preview the concert as part of his “Thursdays with Thomas” chat series on IDAGIO Live, streaming at and on Facebook. Orpheus presents a Zoom Concert Preview with the Orpheus Artistic Directors, Executive Director Alexander Scheirle, and translator Philip Boehm on Thursday, October 15, 2020 at 6:00pm ET and an Opening Night Gala honoring David Gill, Consul General of Germany, New York immediately prior to the concert at 7:00pm ET on Zoom. 

Beethoven, an unyielding critic of tyranny, channeled his rage into music for Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Egmont, a 1787 historical drama about a local hero defying foreign occupiers. Philip Boehm – an award-winning American playwright, theater director, and literary translator – has created a powerful new translation of Goethe’s text ideal for the current social and political climate:

     Many wish their rulers nothing but good will 
     While others hope the current state won’t last, 
     Many just abide the present, keeping still, 
     While in their hearts they’re yearning for the past. 

     He’ll face the Iron Duke, and will insist 
     that all existing rights must be respected, 
     and liberties once granted not dismissed.

Alexander Scheirle says, “I couldn’t be more excited about our upcoming production of Beethoven’s Incidental Music of Goethe’s drama Egmont. One of Beethoven’s masterworks, this work has yet to find its way into the major concert halls in the US and I believe that this new version will be worthy to celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday this year. Especially in a time where concert halls are closed, it will be a magical moment for our musicians, and all the other family members of Orpheus. A spectacle not to be missed.”

Speaking Truth to Power marks the first time that Orpheus has performed together as a full chamber orchestra since January 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The concert was programmed as the orchestra’s season opening performance at Carnegie Hall, and has now transitioned to a pre-recorded virtual performance to ensure that the new Egmonttranslation could be shared with an even larger worldwide audience. Orpheus will record the concert at Beechwood Park in Hillsdale, New Jersey, following CDC guidelines of masking and social distancing, preceded by Covid-19 testing. 

Orpheus has remained committed to its staff and musicians throughout the pandemic, retaining all staff and continuing to provide work for musicians. The orchestra’s numerous other activities during the pandemic have included virtual festivals, live streamed chamber performances, and socially distant outdoor small ensemble concerts.

Performance Information:
Speaking Truth to Power
Saturday, October 17, 2020 at 8:00pm ET – Thursday, October 22, 2020 at 11:59pm ET
Digital Performance on Idagio Global Concert Hall
$15 available at
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