Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Missing me already?

Well, his recent autobiography was released with the threatening title I’m not finished yet... And on the basis of the Staatsoper’s 2012-13 season announcement, which makes the moribund Holender 1990s look like some magnificent golden age, we can only pray.

Talking of Holender, I never bought the line that Dominique Meyer’s hands were tied – a line which he himself peddled, and ungratefully so, as Holender really did set his massive ego aside to be as accommodating as possible in the wake of Meyer’s late appointment. Big changes which Meyer wanted – like baroque opera – were ready to go in his first season.

And so this, 2012-13, was his first season in ‘full’ control, though none of the journalists in Meyer’s pocket are bothering to recall the big deal he was making of that as recently as a few months ago. Now the excuse, swallowed hook, line and sinker if the Feuilleton inches are anything to go by, is that the Staatsoper is touring to Japan this year, it’s an expensive undertaking, and so they were practically forced to settle for this crummy slate of new productions. All the big promises – like a big operatic commission every season, starting 2012 – seem to have fallen by the wayside.

Franz Welser-Möst’s role in all of this has hardly been positive. There’s no question he’s in charge even if he isn’t running the show, but while he is very good at thwarting Meyer’s more dubious plans – and don’t think that the Martinoty Così was the only one – he’s hardly brimming with ambitious artistic ideas of his own. I honestly don’t believe he has any vision for the house beyond securing first refusal on Strauss, Wagner and Janáček for himself and getting his pal Sven-Eric Bechtolf to direct everything.

On a far less depressing note the Theater an der Wien’s 2012-13 schedule is out, and while a Keith Warner Mathis and more Guth Monteverdi are the only two things I absolutely have to see, it’s not short on interesting choices. I would be more enthusiastic about the prospect of seeing Fidelio staged in this theatre were it not for the C-word in the pit.


  1. The Theater an der Wien is obliged to stage Fidelio every few years this decade, for obvious reasons. I saw the 2005 iteration (of the 1805 version, naturally) and it was a quite inspiring experience--though Bertrand de Billy was conducting, so, well... I'm hoping for a 2016 centenary production of "Die Rose von Stambul" but that's just me.

    Interesting that they're taking on Verdi and Puccini, previously the sole property of the Staatsoper (and sometimes Volksoper)--though none of these pieces are ones the Staatsoper does every season.

    Patricia Racette is a really ace Suor Angelica BTW.

  2. I'll happily take your de Billy and raise you a Concentus... Out of interest, was 2005 staged? I didn't get the impression it was. My only Beethoven experience at the TadW was a piano concerto and symphony with the Phil - not ones that were premiered there, though just as well it wasn't too heilig as the concert suffered from the truly unholy combination of Harnoncourt and Lang Lang. No concert I've been to since has come close to matching it for wilful perversity.

    Speaking of which, Verdi and Puccini is NOTHING compared to this: http://www.theater-wien.at/index.php/de/kalender/production/104040

    I also read somewhere that they are planning a staged Wagner production for 2015 and if we're going with round anniversaries that means Tristan.

  3. Oh yes, it was staged, by one G.H. Seebach with a lot of ironic kitsch in the extended first half and a giant looming wall in the prison scene. It featured Vienna favorite Camilla Nylund, who was actually very good. De Billy was boring but not willfully perverse, which Harnoncourt will likely be. It was the first real opera I saw in Europe, actually, so it has a special place in my heart.

    As for the concert, Minkowski and Wagner is random enough for Meyer to have thought up--though the program is more conceptual than Meyer would ever attempt. Geyer must be awfully proud of having come up with it.

    Somebody better remember that von Flotow was born in 1812. Volksoper, I'm counting on you!