Writing to Schoenberg on August 7, 1930, Berg explained the differences between the libretto for his new opera and the original plays by Frank Wedekind, and in particular the return of Lulu's ““victims”” (her husbands) as her clients in the final scene of the opera. While Berg sought to create a large-scale symmetry with this return, he also posited a link between marriage and prostitution that did not exist in Wedekind's texts. Significantly, Berg was not alone in equating these two institutions; numerous Victorian writers had already made arguments in this regard. In fin-de-sièècle Vienna this issue was widely debated and reflected some prevailing views of female sexuality, including those expressed in the influential works of Otto Weininger and Karl Kraus. Indeed, as is well documented, Berg was keenly engaged in these issues.
The association of marriage with prostitution was a crucial element in Berg's conception of the opera. Evidence found in the autograph manuscripts and the finished work confirms that Berg represented these institutions as essentially the same at several levels of the work. This is revealed in his musical portrayal of Lulu, the Prince, the Man servant, and the Marquis, as well as in such musical choices as his borrowing of Wagner's wedding march from Lohengrin and his use of Wedekind's Konfession, a song about prostitution. Indeed, the representation of the two institutions is directly linked to the opera's musical language, particularly the transition from tonal to twelve-tone structures in the final act. Most importantly, this representation reflects Berg's construction of identities for the main characters in the opera and, by extension, the sociocultural issues portrayed in this seminal work.
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