Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Wiener Staatsoper 2013/14

The two eye-catching items are a role debut for Jonas Kaufmann and a better director for Lohengrin than had been expected. There’s also more Gheorghiu than there’s ever been at the Staatsoper. Among the new productions, the biggest surprise is that Marco Arturo Marelli’s Zauberflöte, which was not so old and had developed a loyal following as a Kindervorstellung, is to be junked in favour of a new Caurier & Leiser production. Most Wiener would prefer to see the back of Jean-Louis Martinoty’s Don Giovanni. All in all 2013/14 seems no worse than 2012/13 and yet no better than 2011/12, which was hardly a season for the annals.

New productions

La fanciulla del West, 5 October 2013. Franz Welser-Möst, Marco Arturo Marelli. Nina Stemme, Jonas Kaufmann, Tomasz Konieczny.

Die Zauberflöte, 17 November 2013. Christoph Eschenbach, Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser. Brindley Sherratt, Benjamin Bruns, Olga Pudova, Anita Hartig, Markus Werba.

Rusalka, 26 January 2014. Jirí Belohlávek, Sven-Eric Bechtolf. Michael Schade, Krassimira Stoyanova, Günther Groissböck, Monika Bohinec, Janina Baechle.

Adriana Lecouvreur, 16 February 2014. Evelino Pidò, David McVicar. Elena Zhidkova, Massimo Giordano, Angela Gheorghiu, Roberto Frontali, Raúl Giménez. Co-production with ROH, SFO etc.

Lohengrin, 12 April 2014. Bertrand de Billy, Andreas Homoki. Günther Groissböck, Klaus Florian Vogt, Camilla Nylund, Wolfgang Koch, Michaela Martens, Detlef Roth. Co-production with the Zurich Opera.

The Cunning Little Vixen, 18 June 2014. Franz Welser-Möst, Otto Schenk. Gerald Finley, Chen Reiss, Wolfgang Bankl.

Wiederaufnahmen, i.e. major revivals:

Anna Bolena, 25 October 2013. Evelino Pidò, Eric Génovèse. Krassimira Stoyanova, Sonia Ganassi, Luca Pisaroni, Stephen Costello, Zoryana Kushpler.

Peter Grimes, 23 November 2013. Graeme Jenkins, Christine Mielitz. Ben Heppner, Gun-Brit Barkmin, Iain Paterson.

Les Contes d’Hoffmann, 23 May 2014. Marko Letonja, Andrei Serban. Daniela Fally, Marina Rebeka, Nadia Krasteva, Thomas Ebenstein, Ildar Abdrazakov, Stephanie Houtzeel, Piotr Beczala.

Other assorted revivals/highlights:

Tosca, 5 September 2013. Marco Armiliato, Margarethe Wallmann. Angela Gheorghiu, Marcelo Álvarez, Zeljko Lucic.

Simon Boccanegra, 27 September 2013. Alain Altinoglu, Peter Stein. Thomas Hampson, Ferruccio Furlanetto, Joseph Calleja, Tamar Iveri.

Don Carlo, 13 October 2013. Franz Welser-Möst, Daniele Abbado. Ferruccio Furlanetto, Ramón Vargas, Ludovic Tézier, Anja Harteros, Violeta Urmana, Eric Halfvarson.

Der Rosenkavalier, 20 October 2013. Adam Fischer, Otto Schenk. Renée Fleming, Peter Rose, Wolfgang Bankl, Sophie Koch, Mojca Erdmann.

La bohème, 4 December 2013. Philippe Auguin, Franco Zeffirelli. Angela Gheorghiu, Vittorio Grigolo, Gabriel Bermúdez, Valentina Nafornit̆a.

Wozzeck, 23 March 2014. Daniele Gatti, Adolf Dresen. Matthias Goerne, Herbert Lippert, Herwig Pecoraro, Wolfgang Bankl, Evelyn Herlitzius. 

Parsifal, 17 April 2014. Franz Welser-Möst, Christine Mielitz. Matthias Goerne, Peter Rose, Johan Botha, Waltraud Meier.

Faust, 2 May 2014. Bertrand de Billy, Nicolas Joel/Stéphane Roche. Piotr Beczala, Erwin Schrott, Anna Netrebko, Adrian Eröd.

Norma, 8 May 2014 (in concert). Andriy Yurkevych. Edita Gruberova, Massimo Giordano, Nadia Krasteva, Dan Paul Dumitrescu.

Das Rheingold, 30 May 2014. Jeffrey Tate, Sven-Eric Bechtolf. Tomasz Konieczny, Norbert Ernst, Elisabeth Kulman, Janina Baechle, Eric Owens.

Die Walküre, 31 May 2014. Jeffrey Tate, Sven-Eric Bechtolf. Lance Ryan, Ain Anger, Tomasz Konieczny, Gun-Brit Barkmin, Nina Stemme, Elisabeth Kulman.

Siegfried, 5 June 2014.Jeffrey Tate, Sven-Eric Bechtolf. Stephen Gould, Nina Stemme, Tomasz Konieczny, Herwig Pecoraro, Eric Owens.

Götterdämmerung, 8 June 2014. Jeffrey Tate, Sven-Eric Bechtolf. Stephen Gould, Attila Jun, Nina Stemme.

For details of all the other productions, see the 2013/14 Spielplan on the Staatsoper’s website.

Regie drip feed

Oozing coy charm like a crêpe discharges beurre Suzette, Dominique Meyer confirms ahead of tomorrow’s 2013/14 season announcement that Stefan Herheim has been signed up to direct at the Staatsoper.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Schoenberg Fest

This coming week the Arnold Schönberg Center celebrates its fifteenth year with concerts ranging from the aspirationally hip (‘Schönberg Vinyl Night’, on Tuesday) to the inevitably excellent (Arditti Quartet, on the 18th). Rounding off the programme, winds from the Wiener Symphoniker perform op. 26 on Wednesday, and on the 16th Zubin Mehta conducts the Ensemble Wiener Collage, a group particularly close to the ASC, in op. 9 and works by other composers including Bernd Richard Deutsch and René Staar. For some reason I don’t seem to write up all that many Collage concerts but there is one previous post here. The Mehta concert will also be live-streamed in another free webcast from the Vienna-based platform sonostream.tv; for further details, see their website.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Ö1 petition

Ö1, or Radio Österreich 1 – like BBC Radio 3 and 4 in one station – has long been live moderated 24 hours a day. As the ORF periodically likes to threaten cuts to the few things it does well, it has been announced that the moderated night service will be cancelled in May. My domestic readers will recall that the ORF RSO survived a similar threat a few years back. The ORF’s financial situation is not so precarious that these cuts are conceivably justified, and there certainly never seems to be any shortage of money to throw at Alfons Haider and other such ‘talent’. Night service broadcasters are paid a comparative pittance and freelance music professionals would be disproportionally affected as programming is mainly comprised of the ‘Ö1 Klassiknacht’.

Austria is of course a self-styled Kulturnation and with that the term ‘Einzigartigkeit’ is abused on a regular basis. What has never failed to strike me as singular however is that the nation’s flagship radio station devotes an hour’s programming every weekday night to a contemporary music journal. On Friday nights Zeit-Ton is broadcast in a two-hour extended edition and I often find myself catching it live. Tonight’s programme is marking International Women's Day with a profile of e_may, the Vienna-based platform for female composers headed by Pia Palme and Gina Mattiello (featured in the links to the right). The programme title ‘Wie wir wollen, wir Komponistinnen’ takes its name from the recent Wien Modern event which showcased e_may collaborators including Katharina Klement, Judith Unterpertinger, Eva Reiter, Elisabeth Harnik, Tamara Friebel, Joanna Wozny and Olga Neuwirth. Another composer cropping up whom I haven’t heard from in a while is Manuela Kerer. There’s no use pretending that Irene Suchy is a perfect or even decent moderator, but important issues are being raised and the discussion is on the level of a worthwhile Wien Modern fringe event.

Now Zeit-Ton is pre-recorded but the ORF likes to go down slippery slopes if it can get away with it. So if this sounds like the kind of public service broadcasting that deserves protecting, or if from abroad you’ve found yourself listening to Ö1 via the regular links on Ionarts or wherever, then please consider signing the petitions currently active via the Greens and ORF_FM.

ORF_FM also has a video appeal up on Youtube:

Friday, 8 March 2013


Chaos reigned yesterday evening following a marathon session of the Salzburg Festival’s supervisory board. When Barbara Petsch’s article for Die Presse was first posted online, it reported that ‘the board had come out on top’ and suggested that Alexander Pereira’s overspend will be treated as a negative carry forward, reducing the resources available for 2014 regardless of any further sponsorship revenue. Or as a board member phrased it when briefing Petsch, two operas would have to be cut in 2014. Now a heavily revised version of the article states that the revenue raising block has been lifted. If Pereira can come up with the money, he won’t be forced to make savings in 2014.

Der Standard reports more or less the same thing albeit with some dodgy maths and a loose end about the smaller overspend Salzburg mayor Heinz Schaden has said he will ‘tolerate’. Aside from that Pereira has been warned to bring 2014 in on budget. But while another budget battle has been won, it comes at Pyrrhic cost. When Pereira asked the board about his future, they confirmed that, well, his Salzburger Nockeln have wrinkled and collapsed as rapidly as they rose. There will be no contract extension after 2016 and the board is already in discussions with potential replacements. Candidates named by Die Presse include a caretaker (Sven-Eric Bechtolf, current head of the Festival’s drama division); the oddest of wild cards (um, Franzi); and the successor everybody wants (Markus Hinterhäuser). Hinterhäuser takes over the Wiener Festwochen next year but on a three year contract, leaving him free to succeed Pereira in 2017.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Italian Job

Time again for the raucous Salzburg Festival sideshow that is the annual budget finalization board meeting (pictured). This year’s controversy is Alexander Pereira’s 5 million euro overspend on a budget fixed at 60 million this time last year. In addition, the mayor of Salzburg claims that Pereira did not outsource financial commitments to the friends’ association last year, as agreed. But while Salzburg’s political establishment is demanding that the festival be brought back into budget, the programme has been long been decided and the only painless cutback would be the axing of the misconceived festival ball. Gert Korentschnig speculates that Pereira’s star could shine brightly but briefly as a result. He has been in discussions with La Scala for some time now, and his partner already lives in Milan, where she studies fashion design. As was also helpfully pointed out in, well, let’s call it another place, men in Milan ‘are not blind’.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Skeletons’ new clothes?

Wilhelm Jerger
A report published in Friday’s New York Times offers some indication of the details we can expect to read about Tuesday after next, when the findings of a six-week long review of the Vienna Philharmonic’s historical archive will be posted on the orchestra’s website. In a way this is quite exciting: documents which I have long suspected the archive of housing will finally come to light. At the same time the current review has proceeded on a basis which raises as many questions as it answers. Most curious, leaving aside certain discrepancies in the NYT article – an October 1938 letter, presumably to Walter Thomas, was more likely sent in October 1940 (Schirach himself was not appointed Gauleiter until August 1940); and the wartime activities of the orchestra’s SS officers were certainly aired within the postwar Culture Ministry at the time this department assumed responsibility for denazification – is the reported discovery of Wilhelm Jerger’s private papers. In previous posts where I mentioned private correspondence, I was referring mainly to these. As Vorstand or chairman of the orchestra, Jerger was a central figure during this turbulent period and to accept, in the twenty years since Clemens Hellsberg first broached the subject, that the archive has been relaxed about the loss of such important documents requires no small amount of credulity. Reasons given for restricted access are also cast into doubt. If these sources were lost, as claimed, why not just say so?