Today in a press conference in the Mahler-Saal, Wiener Staatsoper intendant Dominique Meyer and music director Franz Welser-Möst announced that the opera house will be switching to a so-called stagione system next season, following the model of Meyer’s erstwhile home the Théatre des Champs-Elysées. “We talked about it,” Welser-Möst said, “and Dominique and I agreed, like we usually do. Quantity isn’t everything. Being able to see a slapped-together production Il barbiere di Siviglia every week with a mezzo who can’t find the right door because she hadn’t seen the set until that night might be some Viennese music lovers’ idea of a privilege, but we call those people idiots.”
“Imbéciles!” agreed Meyer, slapping Welser-Möst on the back.
Since the house will only perform 14 different operas next season, tech rehearsals are planned and productions older than Welser-Möst have been recommended for eventual retirement. The program includes a revival of Anna Bolena, again with Anna Netrebko, to be followed by Anna di Cleva starring Edita Gruberova, Caterina d’Owardo with Julia Novikova, and finally Caterina Parrà with Agnes Baltsa. Erwin Schrott will play Enrico VIII in all four operas, “because my wife calls him the Jonathan Rhys-Meyers of opera anyway,” Welser-Möst said. Boleslaw Barlog will direct the new productions. Meyer brushed aside objections that this would be complicated by Barlog’s 1999 death. “That hasn’t been stopping him for the last decade, I don’t see why it would now. Besides, aren’t you just glad it isn’t another French director?”
There has also been talk that the Bayerische Staatsoper’s new Hans Neuenfels production of Im weissen Rössl will be coming to the Staatsoper. When this was mentioned, Volksoper intendant Robert Meyer appeared and proclaimed, “It’s MINE! All MINE! The name ‘Meyer’ is also mine and I want it back!”
On nights when the theater is empty due to the new schedule, the new “Wiener Schule” Orchestra will perform for tourists in period costume. Unlike other similar groups, their Viennese school will be the second one, and their rousing renditions of local favorite Webern’s symphony will be sure to draw crowds. To balance the other nights, the orchestra will be comprised entirely of women.
Several other changes were announced. In an attempt to attract new audiences, the Staatsoper’s posters will now feature pictures as well as text, and the slogan: “The Wiener Staatsoper: It’s where it’s at!” (The slogan will be in English.) However, the house denied plans to improve their website to include pictures as well. “Now, now, let’s not let this get out of hand,” Meyer said.
“We are so happy you joined us on this 1st of April to hear about this!” Welser-Möst said in closing. “I gotta go, what opera am I conducting tonight again? Das Rheingold? Oh, I better look at that real quick. Starts in the Rhine, doesn’t it? In it.”