Theater an der Wien, 2011/12

This morning the Theater an der Wien announced their 2011/12 season in a press conference in their lovely Theatercafé. Season subscriptions and individual tickets through December 2011 are already on sale on their website.

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)

Operas in concert include Street Scene, Orlando Furioso, Jephtha, Giulio Cesare, Vivaldi’s Catone in Utica, Aperghis’s Les Boulingrin (a new work but not a premiere), Handel’s Deidamia, Vivaldi’s Il Giustino, The Fairy Queen, Ariodante, Theodora, Dvorak’s Svatební Kosile (!!!), with the usual HIP and new music suspects, and a few newcomers. Note that the Ariodante will star Joyce DiDonato.

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.

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  1. I'm very sorry to hear that you'll be unable to attend any of the announced performances, because I do find your tales & reviews from Europe to be fascinating and educational.

    I hope you ARE able to attend the upcoming "Dialogues des Carmelites." I've recently been turned on this work in a very big way and would welcome a report of the Theater an der Wien production.

  2. thanks, Cruz, I am flattered! I already have a ticket to Dialogues, but it's not new, it's the Carsen that is already on DVD. I do have tentative plans this summer for something that fills me with terror, however: a Dialogues directed by Calixto Bieito (!!!) at the Komische Oper.

  3. Zerb, I saw a listing of that Bieito "Dialogues" when I searched Operabase for upcoming performances of the opera. I simply can't imagine how it will look or turn out (but I'm certain it will rouse outrage from a goodly number of people). I suppose that all the male characters could be sung in the nude, and the heads on pikes could still be mouthing words …

  4. I meant to be clear that I wouldn't stay away from a Bieito "Dialogues," although I might have a moment or two of hesitation. Haha.

  5. A very cool season. (It doesn't matter, imo, what they call the Monteverdi series: the important thing is they're mounting new productions for all three surviving operas. Good news any way you look at it.)

    btw, I'll be in Frankfurt June 14-18 for Otter's Medee, if you happen to be by & wanna hang.

  6. Opening concert will be on 13 September with Michael Boder and the Klangforum Wien, the program is L’histoire du soldat and Pierrot Lunaire

    and Pierrot Lunaire



    Moses und Aron would have been better since it works perfectly on or off the stage.

    It is one of the most musically riveting of all operas that just isn't done often enough.

  7. Cruz, Berlin is pretty difficult to shock (they take great pride in this). And I think Bieito has actually mellowed recently. Well, he hasn't really cut down on the blood and violence but he's gotten past nihilism towards more metaphysics. A Dialogues from him could be really interesting.

    Unrepentent, actually Moses has had two fully-staged runs at the Staatsoper in recent years. And I'm not sure how you can directly compare a giant opera to a chamber concert.