Friday, 5 June 2015

2015/16 operatic highlights in continental Europe

Now that the vast majority of new-season announcements have been made, it seems a good time to pick out the repertoire highlights on offer in the German-speaking lands and further afield between September 2015 and the summer of 2016 for anyone who might, like me, be prepared to travel to hear and see things that rarely if ever reach British shores (and even some of those that do). Please forgive the bias towards operas that (Glass apart) most induce me to such travel – devotees of pre-19th-century opera and pre-verismo Italian repertoire will need to make their own investigations.

NB: this summary has been compiled in good faith, but please don’t blame me if I’ve inadvertently misplaced any dates or other facts; further confirmation and details can easily be found by googling venues – there are too many to link to from here. 

Updates since original posting on 5 June in red. 

To start with my own main interest, Austro-German operas from the first third of the 20th century, it’s a good season for the music of Alexander Zemlinsky. His one-act Oscar Wilde adaptation Der Zwerg (The Dwarf, aka The Birthday of the Infanta) can be seen in no fewer than four productions: in Mainz (from 19 Sep, in a double bill with Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi), Kaiserslautern (from 19 Sep, alongside Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle) and on its own in Chemnitz (from 7 Nov) and in Düsseldorf (from 5 May, revival). But perhaps of more interest are a rare production of his ‘forgotten’ opera of 1905, Der Traumgörge, a work abandoned just before its premiere when the supportive Mahler left his Vienna post and only rediscovered in 1980 (Hannover, from 16 Apr), and two stagings of the later Der König Kandaules (Augsburg, from 27 Sep; and Antwerp/Gent, March/April).

Franz Schreker gets slim pickings next season, compared to recent years, with just one new production of Der ferne Klang in Graz (from 26 Sep) and a revival of the opera in Mannheim (from Oct). Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Die tote Stadt, meanwhile, continues its journey towards becoming mainstream repertoire with new productions in Magdeburg (from 23 Jan) and Kassel (from 23 Apr), and revivals in Hamburg (Nov) and Frankfurt (Oct). Korngold’s one-time rival Ernst Krenek fares well with Jonny spielt auf (Hagen, from 16 Jan) and Der Diktator (Dessau, in a double bill with Kurt Weill’s Der Zar läßt sich photographieren, from 28 Feb). There’s more Weill with a spate of new Mahagonnys: Rome (from 6 Oct), Kiel (15 Oct), Koblenz (16 Jan), Dessau (4 Mar), Münster (19 Apr), Antwerp (24 Jun) and Venice (1 July). And from the same generation Max Brand, best remembered for Machinist Hopkins, has a posthumous stage premiere of his 1955 one-act opera Stormy Interlude (Salzburg, from 21 May). Cologne mounts Walter Braunfels's musical passion-play Jeanne d'Arc - Szenen aus dem Leben der heiligen Johanna (from 14 Feb).

Manfred Gurlitt’s ‘rival’ setting of Büchner’s Wozzeck can be seen in Bremerhaven (from 5 March) at the same time as Alban Berg’s version is in rep in nearby Bremen (from 13 Feb), and Frankfurt’s new production of Berg’s opera (from 26 June) offers a comparable experience by coinciding with the run of Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Wozzeck-inspired Die Soldaten in neighbouring Wiesbaden (from 30 Apr). Berg’s Lulu receives a new production in Wuppertal (from 14 May), Arnold Schoenberg’s Moses und Aaron features in Paris (from 17 Oct) and Madrid (from 24 May), Paul Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler is a highlight of the season in Dresden (from 1 May), Boris Blacher’s Die Nachtschwalbe can be seen in Leipzig (from 10 Oct) and Hans Werner Henze’s The Bassarids is staged in Mannheim (from 23 Oct).

Among other Germanic rarities are the 14-year-old Carl Maria von Weber’s opera Das Waldmädchen, staged in the place in which it was composed, the east Saxon town of Freiberg (from 11 Nov), and works by Weber’s contemporary Heinrich Marschner, Der Vampyr (Berlin Komische Oper, from 20 Mar) and Hans Heiling (Vienna Theater an der Wien, from 13 Sep; Regensburg, from 19 Sep). Emil von Reznicek's Holofernes features in Bonn (from 29 May). And one particularly interesting prospect is discovering the music of Hans Sommer (1837–1922), whose 1904 fairytale opera Rübezahl und der Sackpfeifer von Neisse is staged in Gera (from 18 Mar).

Among Czech operas are a couple of Leoš Janáček rarities – The Excursions of Mr Brouček in Trier (from 30 Apr) and From the House of the Dead in Nuremberg (from 7 Mar) – and two by Bohuslav Martinů: The Greek Passion in Essen (from 26 Sep) and Graz (from 5 Mar), and Julietta in Prague (National Theatre, from 24 Mar) and Berlin (Staatsoper, from 28 May). Russian highlights include Mikhail Glinka’s A Life for the Tsar in Frankfurt (from 30 Oct), Dmitri Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (Lubeck, 4 Mar; Oslo, 1 Apr; Augsburg, 16 Apr) and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's The Golden Cockerel (Dusseldorf, from 15 Apr) and The Tale of Tsar Saltan (Dresden Staatsoperette, from 16 Oct); and French works of interest include Hector Berlioz's Les troyens (Hamburg, from 19 Sep), Giacomo Meyerbeer's Le prophete (Karlsruhe, from 18 Oct), Francis Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmelites in Mainz (from 11 Jun, plus a revival in Amsterdam from 7 Nov) and Gabriel Fauré’s Pénélope (Strasbourg, from 23 Oct).

Prize for most enterprising house must go to Braunschweig (Brunswick), which continues its exploration of rare operas on literary themes with the German premiere of Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park (from 5 Dec), the world premiere of a new chamber opera based on Virginia Woolf’s Orlando by Peter Aderhold (from 22 Apr), the Baudelaire-inspired La falena (1897) by the little-known Puccini contemporary Antonio Smareglia (from 15 Apr) and Robert Ward’s 1950s operatic treatment of Miller’s The Crucible (as Hexenjagd, from 28 May). These run alongside revivals of Werner Egk’s Peer Gynt (27 Sep) and Jenő Hubay’s Anna Karenina (6 Nov).

Keeping the Ward company among American operas are André Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire (Koblenz, from 14 May), William Bolcom’s McTeague (Linz, from 6 Feb), Philip Glass’s Satyagraha (Oldenburg, from 6 Feb) and Charles Wuorinen’s Brokeback Mountain (Salzburg, from 27 Feb).

Wagnerians will want to head to Leipzig in late May when all three pre-Holländer operas can be seen on consecutive nights. Das Liebesverbot is also being given in Strasbourg the same month and earlier in Madrid (from 19 Feb). The most important new productions are probably the two key Meistersinger stagings, in Berlin (Staatsoper, from 3 Oct, conducted by Daniel Barenboim, and with a couple of one-time Siegfrieds giving cameos among the guild members) and Munich (from 16 May, starring Jonas Kaufmann). Other new Meistersingers are being given in Chemnitz (from 19 Mar) and Erfurt (from 29 May) and Stefan Herheim’s Salzburg production reaches Paris (Bastille, from 1 Mar). There are new productions of Der fliegende Holländer (Wiesbaden, from 25 Sep; Vienna Theater an der Wien, from 12 Nov; Frankfurt, from 6 Dec; Heidelberg, from 9 Apr), Lohengrin (Ulm, from 24 Mar), Tannhäuser (Antwerp/Gent, Sep & Oct; Aachen, from 7 Feb) and Tristan und Isolde (Dortmund, from 6 Sep; Baden-Baden Festival, from 19 Mar; Karlsruhe, from 27 Mar; Kaiserslautern, from 9 Apr; Passau, from 14 Apr). No new Parsifals (yet), but revivals in Karlsruhe, Cologne, Berlin (Staatsoper), Chemnitz, Leipzig, Madrid, Vienna and Stockholm.

Kiel (from 26 Sep) and Karlsruhe (from 9 Jul) launch new Ring cycles with Das Rheingold, while Nuremberg (from 11 Oct) and Leipzig (from 30 Apr) conclude theirs with Götterdämmerung. Complete cycles can be seen in Halle (Oct), Vienna (Jan), Leipzig (May/Jun), Frankfurt (May/Jul), Mannheim (Jun) and Berlin Staatsoper (Jun). The Ruhr Triennale (Bochum, Sep) is also mounting a one-off festival staging of Das Rheingold in a former industrial complex (alongside Luigi Nono’s Prometeo).

Fans of Richard Strauss have the usual favourites to seek out, with too many Rosenkavaliers to list (new productions in Paris, Stockholm and Amsterdam), but there are new stagings of Elektra in Wiesbaden (from 28 Jan), Detmold (from 12 Feb), Essen (from 19 Mar) and Osnabruck (from 21 May), of Ariadne in Duisburg (from 25 Feb) and of Arabella in Düsseldorf (from 18 Sep) and Leipzig (from 18 Jun). It’s a better-than-average season, though, for the composer’s more infrequently staged works: Friedenstag in Budapest (from 1 Oct), Daphne in Budapest (from 1 Oct) and Hamburg (from 5 Jun), Capriccio in Meiningen (from 16 Oct), Paris (from 19 Jan) and Vienna (Theater an der Wien, from 18 Apr) and revivals of Die ägyptische Helene and Der Liebe der Danae in Berlin (Deutsche Oper, Mar/Apr).

Further contemporary operas include new productions of Thomas Adès’s Powder Her Face in Brussels (from 22 Sep) and Brno (from 29 Jan) and of The Tempest in Budapest (from 19 May); Louis Andriessen’s new Theatre of the World in Amsterdam (from 11 Jun); Elliott Carter’s What Next? in Duisburg (from 4 Jun); Wolfgang Rihm's Die Eroberung von Mexico in Cologne (from 8 May); Philippe Boesmans's Reigen in Stuttgart (from 24 Apr); Peter Eötvös’s Der goldene Drache in Bremerhaven (from 4 Jun), Three Sisters in Vienna (Staatsoper, 6 Mar) and brand new Senze sangue in Avignon (from 15 May); Wolfgang Rihm’s Die Hamletmaschine in Zurich (from 24 Jan); the world premieres of Toshio Hosokawa’s Stilles Meer in Hamburg 24 Jan), Elena Kats-Chernin’s Schneewittchen und die 77 Zwerge in Berlin (Komische Oper, 1 Nov), Wolker David Kirchner’s Gutenberg in Erfurt (24 Mar), and Helmut Oehring’s Agota in Wiesbaden (5 Apr).

I will add further items of interest as and when information comes available.

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