Highlights include a world premiere of a new opera by Lera Auerbach, the beginning of a Monteverdi “cycle” directed by Claus Guth, and a lot more. It’s an exciting and wide-ranging season that expands beyond their usual specialties of Baroque, Classical, and modern opera. Meaning: let’s conquer the nineteenth century.
The announcement highlighted the Theater an der Wien’s continuing success as a stagione house that mounts unusual, challenging works on a high level. Using a word that the Staatsoper has been throwing around a lot recently, intendant Roland Geyer proclaimed the theater “einzigartig” (unique). Well, aren’t we all special in some way. Their 2011/12 season's new explorations include several Slavic works and steps into bel canto and 19th-century France. Staatsoper faves Puccini, Verdi, and Wagner seem to be the only area that remains off limits. It’s a little scattered, but it looks awesome. Here’s what we got:
- The opening concert will be on 13 September with Michael Boder and the Klangforum Wien, the program is L’histoire du soldat and Pierrot Lunaire (the latter with Christine Schäfer).
- Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, with the RSO Wien conducted by Cornelius Meister, cast includes Nikolai Schukoff and Sally Matthews, new production by Robert Carsen (September)
- Handel, Serse, with Jean-Christophe Spinosi conducting his Ensemble Matheus, new production by Adrian Noble with this year’s Rodelinda cast members Bejun Mehta, Malena Ernman, and Danielle De Niese (October)
- World premiere of Gogol, a new opera by Russian composer Lera Auerbach, the RSO Wien conducted by Vladimir Fedoseyev with Bo Skovhus and Natalya Ushakova, production by Christine Mielitz (November)
- Monteverdi, L’Orfeo, new production by Claus Guth (the first part of a so-called Monteverdi cycle*, to continue in following seasons, all three of which will be performed in a festival in 2015), the Freiburger Barockorchester conducted by Ivor Bolton with John Mark Ainsley in the title role (December)
- Double bill of Chaikovsky, Iolanta and Rachmaninov, Francesca da Rimini, the RSO Wien conducted by Kirill Petrenko, new production by Stephen Lawless, cast includes Olga Mykytenko, David Pittsinger, and Saimir Pirgu (January)
- Gluck, Telemaco, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin conducted by René Jacobs, new production by Torsten Fischer with Rainer Trost, Bejun Mehta, Alexandrina Pendatchanska (February)
- Offenbach, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Wiener Symphoniker conducted by Riccardo Frizza, new production by William Friedkin, cast includes Kurt Streit as Hoffmann and two different casts: in March Aris Argiris sings the villains and in July Alex Esposito, when Marlis Petersen will sing all four ladies. The production will supposedly be centered on the villains instead of Hoffmann. ???
- Thomas, Hamlet, Wiener Symphoniker conducted by Marc Minkowski, new production by Olivier Py with Stéphane Degout and Christine Schäfer (April)
- Rossini, La donna del lago, RSO Wien conducted by Leo Hussain, Christof Loy’s production previously seen in Geneva, here with Malena Ernman and Gregory Kunde (August)
Concerts include Beethoven’s rare Chirstus am Ölberge with the Philharmoniker conducted by Philippe Jordan and with Johan Botha as Jesus (no snickering, please, it’s in concert).
Check out the full listings here.
Intendant Roland Geyer was upbeat about the house’s position. He has right to be; the theater is definitely the most consistently progressive and adventurous of Vienna’s major music theater venues. When asked about his relationship with the Meyers (Staatsoper intendant Dominque and, no relation, Volksoper intendant Robert), he said that the relationship was good, because the three houses have clearly defined and different artistic missions (this is true, it’s nothing like Berlin). They do coordinate premiere dates and repertoire to some extent, though some repeats like Mozart are to be expected. He also proclaimed himself, in the face of the Meyers, “very proud of my G.” Ha.
In all likelihood, I’m not going to be around for any of these performances, but if you are you should go to them!
*EDITORIAL COMMENT: OK, this is B.S. Proclaiming L’Orfeo, Ulisse, and Poppea to be a cycle implies that they were conceived as some kind of group. This ignores that decades and major aesthetic changes that transpired between the first one and second two, as well as the fact Monteverdi wrote several other operas that are now lost. It is entirely arbitrary, it's a cycle because they are the three full Monte operas that we've got. A more legitimate cycle would be comprised of the three operas he wrote for Venetian public theaters, Ulisse, Poppea, and Le nozze d’Enea con Lavinia. It would be hard to produce, though, because the score for the latter has been lost. There's a great book to read about this if you want to know more.