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.