Welser-Möst to director Martinoty: Senti questa!

 Looks like Dominique Meyer and Franz Welser-Möst’s first joint year as intendant and music director of the Wiener Staatsoper, which began so warmly, has hit a rocky patch. As Intermezzo points out and neatly summarizes, Welser-Möst has let loose a withering critique of director Jean-Louis Martinoty’s work on the house’s two new Mozart productions, to which he himself contributed competent but uninspired conducting.

Welser-Möst says Martinoty didn’t learn from his mistakes, didn’t collaborate and listen to the singers and musicians, and didn’t have the will to assemble a coherent concept. Meyer dismisses it as a matter of artistic differences.

As Intermezzo says, this kind of dissent is unusual. But the utter dreadfulness of Martinoty’s productions was also unusual. I don’t know about Martinoty’s rehearsal process, but Welser-Möst nails the stagings’ lack of coherence. Here is my review of the least funny Figaro to ever happen, and here the least interesting Don Giovanni. The Figaro was an import from Meyer’s previous house, the Théatre des Champs-Elysées.

Martinoty is somewhere far from the A-list of opera directors, but he is a friend of Meyer. The directors of the two remaining new productions of the season are similarly French and obscure in Austria–Eric Génovèse in Anna Bolena (premiering 2 April with both Anna Netrebko and Elina Garanca) and André Engel in Kat’a Kabanová (not until June)–but both have somewhat more distinguished credentials. We’ll see how that goes.

Photo: Meyer and Welser-Möst (not Martinoty)

You may also like


  1. I saw Martonity's production of Figaro in Paris and found it acceptable. A few questionable ideas, a set that was too dark und visually tiresome, but on the whole it was OK. It was a resounding public success, with many sold out revivals, despite ordinary casts, mainly, I suppose, because the costumes were pretty and there was no transposition in modern times. He also did a respectable Pelléas.

    Yet, the production was acceptable in a theater with a relatively low budget and which was never a leading light in staged operas. It's clearly not good enough for Vienna.and I was very surprised that Meyer's plan to "renovate" anything was to revive this old warhorse.

    I'm a bit skeptical about FWM's criticism, though. Martinoty really likes music, I see him in Paris in concerts once in a while, including in somewhat obscure chamber music events (not only in the kind of gigs where everybody who is anybody goes, like the VPO and BPO concerts). So I'm not sure that the problem comes from "not listening to the musicians".

    Meyer has clearly imported friends from Paris. Both Génovèse and Engel have worked with him in Paris. From what I've seen (Janacek's little Vixen and Hindemith's Cardillac in Paris) wouldn't rate Engel higher as Martinoty, that is, about average.

  2. But the Figaro was so illogical. I've seen several low-budget, even amateur Figaros that have been perfectly delightful. Maybe it was better in Paris and it's here in Vienna that it didn't work, but I don't think scale or budget was the problem. And just because he *likes* music doesn't mean he has a clue as to what to do with it as narrative or how to work with musicians. I looked at his book on Baroque opera a little bit, and he definitely has a lot to say about the genre, but that doesn't make him a good opera director either.

    Oh no, now I'm scared about Engel. Lordy. I saw the Cardillac on DVD, I remember Cardillac having an evil dwarf twin and that was worrying.