Show artwork for the loser

the loser the loser

February 2223, 2019

West Coast Premiere

At the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

West Coast premiere: David Lang's the loser

"Boldly unconventional… engrossingly ambiguous."

The New York Times

Baritone Rod Gilfry starred in the West Coast premiere of David Lang’s the loser—a Bang on a Can production—at the Theatre at Ace Hotel. Based on a novel by Thomas Bernhard, the loser was a painful meditation on dreams forsaken and hopes unrealized as two piano prodigies encountered an even greater talent: the young Glenn Gould on the cusp of superstardom.


Rod Gilfry
Conrad Tao


Composer / Librettist / Director
David Lang
Lesley Leighton
Jennifer Tipton
Jim Findlay
Costume Designer
Suzanne Bocanegra

Read the synopsis

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A Note from Composer David Lang
“Suicide calculated well in advance, I thought, no spontaneous act of desperation.” So begins Thomas Bernhard’s novel The Loser. The narrator, who is never named in the book, retells the story of his friend Wertheimer, who has just committed suicide, and in the process he reveals everything about himself. They both had been promising concert pianists in their youth, among the best in the world, but they had the misfortune of meeting each other as students in a master class of Vladimir Horowitz, in which the young Glenn Gould had also been a participant. The knowledge that they were never going to be as great as Gould wrecked their lives forever. The story is not at all about Gould, Horowitz, or classical music. On one level the novel is an intense tour-de-force of character development, as the narrator tells you more and more about himself and his world, with all the details revealed in no particular order. In its own confrontational and strangely beautiful way, however, it is also about perfectionism, hard work, optimism or lack of, how we justify our lives to ourselves, and how we learn to appreciate beauty and become alienated from it at the same time.—David Lang

The Loser by Thomas Bernard used by permission of SuhrkampVerlag AG, Berlin. Translated by Jack Dawson. This translation used by permission of The Knopf Doubleday Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC

West Coast premiere

Adapted from the novel by Thomas Bernhard, translated from the German by Jack Dawson

LA Opera Off Grand made possible by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Additional support from a consortium of generous donors to LA Opera's Contemporary Opera Initiative, chaired by Barry and Nancy Sanders. Piano graciously provide by Yamaha, Official Piano of LA Opera.

Artwork for the loser
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