Revivals & Repertoire
An intensive artistic study of the central star, perhaps the greatest genius in music history, is undoubtedly one of the most important tasks for any internationally renowned music theater company. The detailed care of the works of Mozart, who was successful and unsuccessful during his time in Vienna, was always the foremost priority of the Vienna State Opera: Don Giovanni was chosen as the premiere opening work of the house in 1869, shortly afterwards they proudly presented the first extensive Mozart cycle, The Marriage of Figaro was presented at the eagerly awaited return to performing after the Second World War, and Don Giovanni was the second premiere at the reopening of the Haus am Ring. In addition, The Marriage of Figaro and The Magic Flute have been by far the most performed works in our repertoire for decades. The attention to Mozart and a connection to the idea of the legendary Mozart ensemble of the post-war period have been the declared priorities of the current management. This season, in addition to a new Don Giovanni production, The Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute and The Abduction from the Seraglio, which in the production by Hans Neuenfels returned to the repertoire last year after a 20-year break, can all be experienced live.
LE NOZZE DI FIGARO
DIE ENTFÜHRUNG AUS DEM SERAIL
No one after Wagner could write operas without referring to him, without being compared to him, and being associated with him. Not only did harmony, instrumentation and overall form of an opera score experience a new foundation with Wagner, but he also made decisive contributions as his own librettist. His claim that music, poetry, stage design and acting all form a unit in his “total work of opera art” and should all be in the service of the drama, shapes our demands on opera performances to this day.
The spectrum of Wagner's works presented this season ranges from the romantic opera The Flying Dutchman,to the four-part “Stage Festival” Der Ring des Nibelungen, to the esoteric “Stage Dedication Ritual Fest” Parsifal, in addition to the Tristan premiere. Mythical subjects form the basis of these works, but Wagner adapted all these models very freely to his own ideas and his own life theme: the search for redemption is always a central motivation of the protagonists.
DER FLIEGENDE HOLLÄNDER → Revival
The combination of a deeply felt humanistic ethos with an unmistakable theatrical instinct characterizes Verdi's oeuvre in all the stages of his development that led him to become a chosen relative of Shakespeare, whom he admired so much. The most important musical dramatist of the 19th century with, alongside and in spite of, Wagner, gave all his stage characters, right down to the smallest, a truthfulness that instantly touches the viewer and never lets us go. As a man who understands and sympathizes with humanity, Verdi approaches the individual characters with the deepest instincts of a psychologist. He is interested in the development of his characters, their relationships to each other and the resulting conflicts: a theater full of life in which the dramatic action comes first, and not the singing as an end in itself. Verdi's talent for purely musical communication, his ability to capture a very specific atmosphere and color of a scene, even an entire plot, in just a few bars, leads to a unique intensity in his works. Even after half a century in the theater, he always remained curious without compromising his own language. At the same time, he anticipated later musical achievements, such as French impressionism in Falstaff's fairy song, or new combinations of sounds in Don Carlos which anticipated the colors in Mahler's symphonies. The Verdi repertoire traditionally occupies a large space at the Vienna State Opera. Accordingly, important works from his early, middle and late creative period will also be regularly presented in the new season, which allows an immersion in the diverse cosmos of this composer.
FALSTAFF → Revival
DON CARLO → Revival of the italian version
"I believe that Vienna is still the leading city in the world - great orchestras, concerts, fantastic choirs and a wonderful opera house of the very highest order!” Giacomo Puccini was euphoric when he judged the city in 1923 after one of his extensive stays. Here his works were almost continuously in the repertoire in a wide variety of theaters, from the Rextheater to the Kaiserjubiläum-Stadttheater, and of course at the Vienna State Opera, which regularly invited the composer personally.
Although it had taken a little longer at the Haus am Ring: it was not until 1903 that Puccini's first opera, La Bohème, was performed here, and director Gustav Mahler had to reluctantly comply with the public’s ardent requests. Puccini's works soon developed into a mainstay of the repertoire at the State Opera: only La Rondine and Edgar have not yet been presented here.
Tosca and La Bohème, two beloved and everlasting productions of the repertoire can be seen this season, which have been enjoyed by audiences for decades. And with the return of Manon Lescaut (with Asmik Grigorian in the title role), director Robert Carsen tells the story of human seduction through luxury and prosperity in images copied from life today.
MANON LESCAUT → Revival
“We mustn't save any money with first-class casts for the main roles, because the quality of the theater is judged according to this, and the credit also brings income. I will also take responsibility for the deficit!” Richard Strauss stated as director of the Vienna State Opera, an office he held from 1919 to 1924. During this artistically prolific time, the special relationship between this house and the composer was perhaps not established, but definitely deepened and intensified. As the conducting director of the house, Strauss left a lasting mark on the orchestra and the singers. To this day, the Haus am Ring proudly points out that the State Opera Orchestra is a Straussian "original instrument ensemble" that makes music based on a tradition that has been kept alive and consistently cultivated since then. The history of his work at the State Opera, which now extends to well over 3,000 performances, is correspondingly rich; this also includes the world premieres of the second version of Ariadne auf Naxos, Die Frau ohne Schatten and the ballet Schlagobers.
With Salome, Rosenkavalier and Capriccio, there are three very different operas in the State Opera repertoire this season: a former scandalous piece that creates an oppressive psychodrama in 100 glowing minutes, a precisely colored topography of changeable relationships, as well as a mature, cheerful self-reflection of music and theater.
CAPRICCIO → Musikalische Neueinstudierung
A typical feature of modern music is the renunciation of traditional cadences - so that this music can still sound surprising and new, even after 100 years. However, the music of the 20th century is characterized above all else by an enormous variety of styles in which tonality is used, expanded or canceled in a wide variety of ways. The three works that make up the State Opera's modern repertoire this season are each connected to the musical achievements of Romanticism in its own way: leitmotifs, concise melodic expressive gestures, refined harmonies and opulent sound timbres are all used to tell disturbing stories.
The fragility of reality and the unreliability of perception play a role in all three operas, and are reflected in different ways in the music. The eclecticism and instability of the music of Peter Grimes refers to the ambivalence of the protagonist and his precarious situation in the aggressive fishing village. The captivating melodies in Erich Wolfgang Korngold's Die tote Stadt dispel any reflective distance to the dreaming main character, and Hans Werner Henze's sometimes soft, sometimes exploding music provides surprising insights into the inscrutable psyche of the three main characters.
DAS VERRATENE MEER
PETER GRIMES → Revival
DIE TOTE STADT → Revival
The history of the reception of Tchaikovsky's operas in Vienna actually begins in Hamburg. There, in 1892, the young Hamburg conductor and later director of the court opera, Gustav Mahler, conducted Eugene Onegin - to the great satisfaction of the composer who had traveled to hear him, and who recognized the musician as a "genius" at the time. In the same year Mahler also conducted the first performance of Jolantha outside of Russia. He took on both works personally during his time as director in Vienna, where he flanked their performances with the Vienna premiere of The Queen of Spades, which he considered to be the "most mature and artistically dignified work" of the Russian.
Tchaikovsky, who in Russia went down in his country's cultural history as its first professional musician, was connected to the Western European musical world not least of all through his numerous research, concert and recreational trips, which all helped the international reputation and distribution of his works. Modest Mussorgsky however, who was almost the same age, had to make a living as an administrative officer. Most of his opera projects remained fragments - with the exception of Boris Godunov, who, after being revised and expanded, was released for the world premiere in St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theater in 1874. Internationally, the work of the Russian outsider was hailed as a revelation when it was performed in Paris in 1908. The first performance in Vienna took place in 1925, admittedly still in the smoothed-out adaptation of the work by his companion Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The current production is based on the original version of the work, published for the first time in 1928 and now rehabilitated.
PIQUE DAME → Revival
BORIS GODUNOW → Original version: Revival
Hardly any other term is subject to greater misunderstandings than the literally translated "beautiful singing." Today we use this term for the entire Italian opera production of the first decades of the 19th century, but actually, it describes a singing aesthetic that - with the development of instrumental accompaniment - arose in Italy in the late 16th century. It encompasses an animated flexibility of tone in collaboration with instrumental agility as well as perfect articulation of the sung text. For the Italian vocal aesthetician Rodolfo Celletti, this term correlates with Italian opera history from the Baroque to Rossini. Rossini's successors added passionate accents of expression to this artificiality, which had been deprived of any naturalism, thereby opening Italian opera to the aesthetic of Romanticism. At the State Opera, from the first half of the 19th century, three operas of the cheerful and three operas of the tragic genre can be experienced. The brilliantly virtuoso buffo style is enriched with sentiment and pathos not only in Donizetti's L’elisir d’amore and in his Don Pasquale, but already in La Cenerentola of the old master Rossini. In I Puritani, Vincenzo Bellini succeeded in bringing his admired »melodie lunghe, lunghe, lunghe« (Verdi) to high points of full-sounded climaxes through chromatic savoring of leading and semitones, sequencing harmonies, and making the most of delaying cadences. It was the stylistic example of Bellini, who unfortunately died very young, which encouraged Donizetti to step out of Rossini's shadow as a musical dramatist and to create two masterpieces of "dramatic bel canto" with Anna Bolena and Lucia di Lammermoor.
ANNA BOLENA → Revival
LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR
While French opera always followed its own path in the 17th and 18th centuries, 19th century French opera was a highly internationalized business. The subjects of the French operas of this season reflect other national cultures: Werther and Faust play in an imaginary Germany of their inventor Goethe, while Carmen leads to a no less imaginary Spain. Charles Gounod, who set the German national myth Faust to music for a Parisian audience, took up the playful, effective reception of Faust in the Parisian boulevard theaters and found in the fast waltz an expression of the high-spirited lust for pleasure of the time. In his Werther, Jules Massenet looked for an image of Germany of his time, which was shaped by timber-framed houses & bull’s-eye panes, and merged it with Werther's indulgent yearning. Doomed love relationships are at the center of all three operas.
The repertoire in the Haus am Ring is internationally unique in its size, richness and diversity. In addition to exemplary performances of certain schools, genres or styles, selected unique jewels also enliven the repertoire - be it a significant rarity, a historically powerful landmark, or an indispensable masterpiece from the more than 400-year history of the genre of opera. They all not only serve as valuable, welcome additions, but open up a view towards contexts, lines of tradition, forerunners, and extensions of the core repertoire. They can stand by themselves and at the same time document how much individual stage creations are mutually dependent. Adriana Lecouvreur, which has become popular again around the world for a few years now and has been presented at the State Opera since 2014, displays the musically and dramatically fascinating special route of Italian opera around the immediate vicinity of verismo. With L’incoronazione di Poppea, the first realization of a complete Monteverdi cycle has begun at the house, and with it the expansion of the repertoire by including the earliest highlights of the opera literature. And it goes without saying that, on the year’s ending night, Die Fledermaus, is the most exquisite representative of operetta, and is upheld here with particular devotion.
L’INCORONAZIONE DI POPPEA