Tuesday, 6 March 2012


At the moment the Wiener Staatsoper is rather a sausage to me, as the Viennese are fond of saying, but there are three revivals worth noting am Ring this month: Robert Carsen’s Die Frau ohne Schatten, Sven-Eric Bechtolf’s Cardillac, and Claus Guth’s Tannhäuser. Tannhäuser, with Bertrand de Billy and Peter Seiffert, is the one I’m most likely to give a miss, having already seen the production (which hasn’t revived well). Franz Welser-Möst conducts the Strauss and Hindemith, with Wolfgang Koch and Evelyn Herlitzius reprising their roles from the Salzburg FroSch and Adrianne Pieczonka as the Kaiserin. In more dubious productions, Dmitri Hvorostovsky sings Simon Boccanegra (already underway) and Nina Stemme Tosca (from the 19th).

Joyce DiDonato is ill and has cancelled on Ariodante in concert at the Theater an der Wien, coming up this Friday. Her Einspringerin is Sarah Connolly. Alan Curtis and Il Complesso Barocco are in the pit (i.e. the CD, on tour). There’s more Handel in concert on the 21th (Theodora). The TadW’s staged opera this month is Les contes d'Hoffmann, with leads Kurt Streit and Mari Eriksmoen. The director is William Friedkin (yes, that William Friedkin). Riccardo Frizza conducts the Wiener Symphoniker.

I like Bruckner and the Budapest Festival Orchestra but am unsure about the two together; the BFO play Bruckner 7 and the Bach cantata Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht this Friday at the Konzerthaus and I’ll be going. A Liederabend Thomas Quasthoff postponed from last year obviously isn’t happening any more, but for those of us who had tickets there’s not much to grumble about as Hanno Müller-Brachmann takes his place on Sunday evening (thanks to the organizational efforts of András Schiff, who remains the accompanist). The programme includes Schwanengesang (just the Heine songs), Brahms selections, and Dichterliebe. Schiff will also play Brahms’s op. 117 Intermezzi. The Wiener Philharmoniker guest at the Konzerthaus on the 11th (in the morning) and the 12th, with Nézet-Séguin and Grimaud (Brahms 1st piano concerto/Chaik 6). This sold out fast but luckily comes bundled in my Konzerthaus subscription. For free you can hear Nézet-Séguin in conversation with chairman of the Philharmoniker Clemens Hellsberg at the Haus der Musik this Thursday (expect ‘schleimen’ from both). YN-S returns to the Konzerthaus on the 24th with his Rotterdam Philharmonic and Julian Rachlin (Mendelssohn violin concerto/Eroica), which is also in my subscription but not a date I can make (if you look under 30 email me for a free ticket). My favourite young conductor Cornelius Meister has an interesting RSO Wien programme on the 29th. Normally I’d be the last person to go to an all Brahms concert but it’s a rarities night, and rarities I like (the Vier Gesänge op. 17, Nänie, Gesang der Parzen etc.) Singing is the Wiener Singakademie, which counts Brahms among its illustrious former directors.

Over at the Musikverein there are a few events I’m keeping a wide berth of and will only note in passing: Harnoncourt/Concentus/Handel, Garanča Lieder, and Lang Lang (with Zubin Mehta). The guest highlight of the month is Andris Nelsons and the CBSO, whose second concert has some great music which I’m not convinced will work together, though for a Jonas Kaufmann Kindertotenlieder this possibly is wurscht. The Wiener Philharmoniker have a subscription concert with Zubin Mehta (the Mehta/Lang concert is with the Münchner Philharmoniker), for which the programme is the Mathis der Maler symphony, Four Last Songs (Martina Serafin), and Dvořák 9. The Wiener Symphoniker is up to their old trick of programming random Haydn symphonies with monumental choral works, and though I can’t make their Military Carmina Burana, it’s recommend anyway for the underrated Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos. I also won’t be in Vienna on the 27th to find out how Evgeny Kissin is playing these days.

My search for a programme of contemporary music I like that forgoes the mandatory Beat Furrer piece continues in vain: on the 16th the Ensemble Lux play Haas, Lachenmann, Freisitzer and the ubiquitous Furrer at the Alte Schmiede. Doing Susan McClary proud is self-styled ‘woman / composer / (m)other’ Pia Palme, who performs in her own portrait concert this Friday. There are more events listed on the Schmiede’s music calendar, but across Vienna it’s slim pickings for contemporary music this month.

At the end of the month the Volksoper premieres a new production of Pagliacci in a double bill with Henze’s first opera Das Wundertheater. I dearly wish we could have more Henze operas in Vienna; the Theater an der Wien has staged only Der Prinz vom Homburg and the Staatsoper nothing except for the ballet music (Ioan Holender claimed to like Henze but made no play for Salzburg’s L’Upupa). Put in the context of four or five successful Birtwistle productions in the last twenty years alone and it makes for rather a Rätsel. The Volksoper’s double bill opens on the 31st and there is what is billed as ‘An evening for Hans Werner Henze’ on the 28th (a foyer event which may have some music and almost certainly a lot of talking auf Deutsch).
I checked the Wiener Staatsoper’s Henze-shaped hole using their new online archive, and also a couple more obscurities to test for accuracy, which seems OK. At the moment it only covers 1955 to 2011, though the database will eventually go back to 1869. The editor’s job at Prolog, the Wiener Staatsoper’s monthly magazine, is to work the name of a certain Generalmusikdirektor into every article, so no prizes for guessing which search term is in their screenshot of the archive in action. Click here to check it out.


  1. Opernwurst is an idea I could get behind. On a more serious note, I'd definitely be off to hear Pieczonka. I loved her Ariadne here last year. (Not so taken with her recent Tosca)

  2. Given the Staatsoper's form with rehearsals I wouldn't wager a shadow on it, but Pieczonka, Herlitzius, the Vienna Phil full complement which Welser-Möst's involvement guarantees, and of course Carsen all bode well.