Saturday, 2 May 2009

Komische Oper, Berlin, 2009-10 season preview

Berlin’s Komische Oper has announced details of its 2009-10 season. Often attracting a younger audience than Berlin’s other two houses – 21% under 25 during the period June to November 2008, and 46% up to 45 – the house on Behrenstraße has long had a reputation for innovative production values. This looks set to continue with a varied programme, including no fewer than seven new productions.

The first of these will be Rigoletto, directed by Barrie Kosky, whose previous work at this house has included a superb Iphigénie en Tauride; Patrick Lange conducts. November brings a new ‘family opera’, Die rote Zora, by Elisabeth Naske, receiving its German premiere in a production from the young director, Jasmina Hadziahmetovic. The Komische Oper’s programme for young audiences will also include a revival of Frank Schwemmer’s Robin Hood, as directed by chief director and Intendant, Andreas Homoki. Aribert Reimann’s Lear, written for Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, receives a new production from Hans Neuenfels. Music director Carl St Clair conducts, with Tómas Tómasson in the title role. Maurizio Barbacini will conduct and Jetske Mijnssen direct a new production of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale. Handel moves beyond his anniversary year with a new staging of Orlando from Alexander Mørk-Eidem in February 2010, conducted by Alessandro de Marchi. A highlight of the season promises to be Fidelio, again under the baton of St Clair, with staffing by Benedikt von Peter. Will Hartmann and Barbara Schneider-Hofstetter head the cast. Finally, Offenbach’s operetta, La Périchole will be directed by Nicolas Stemann and conducted by Markus Poschner. All new productions, save for Die rota Zara, may be seen in a special festival running from 13 to 18 July 2010.

A number of revivals should be noted. Calixto Bieito’s Armide (reviewed here) reunites the Catalan director with Konrad Junghänel as conductor and the excellent Maria Bengtsson as Gluck’s heroine. Bieito’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail is also revived, with Simon Hewett conducting. Intendant Homoki’s production of Christian Jost’s Hamlet returns a house-commissioned work to the stage and Homoki’s Love for Three Oranges finds Stefan Blunier in the pit. Further instances of Homoki’s work may be seen in La Bohème (St Clair conducting), Der Rosenkavalier (Friedemann Layer), Die Fledermaus (in turn by Lange and Stefan Soltesz), and Weill’s Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (St Clair). Eduard Künneke’s Der Vetter aus Dingsda and a staged version of Mozart’s Requiem bring repertoire one is unlikely to find in other opera houses. Remaining with Mozart, Kosky’s 2005 production of Le nozze di Figaro and Peter Konwitschny’s Don Giovanni also return. Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann and Tchaikovsky’s Pique Dame will be conducted by Lange, in productions by Thilo Reinhardt. Another side of Kosky’s work may be seen in the Cole Porter musical, Kiss me, Kate. Neuenfels has a second production of the season, with a revival of his La Traviata, St Clair in the pit.

There are eight symphony concerts, four of them conducted by St Clair, with repertoire ranging from Bach through Wagner, Berlioz, and Mahler, to Lou Harrison’s Bubaran Robert for gamelan and trumpet. Guest conductors include Zdeněk Mácal and Heinrich Schiff. Special concerts for Christmas (Tchaikovsky) and of film music may also be heard. In addition, there is a year-long series of foyer concerts, with chamber repertoire running from the baroque and early classical, through Brahms piano trios, to Piazzolla and Harrison.

All works are sung in German but, as of this forthcoming season, English translation on screens in front of seats will be available. Such a service has been available for some time in Vienna and New York; this will be the first of its kind in Germany.

Further details are available on the company’s website, whose English version may be visited by clicking here.

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