World première of Olga Neuwirth’s "Orlando" – commissioned by Wiener Staatsoper

On 8 December 2019 the world première of Olga Neuwirth’s opera "Orlando", based on the homonymous novel by Virginia Woolf, will take place at the Vienna State Opera. Vienna State Opera Director Dominique Meyer commissioned the opera from the Austrian composer in 2014. The librettists are the Franco-American author and playwright Catherine Filloux and composer Olga Neuwirth.

"Orlando" is Virginia Woolf’s first big literary success. Woolf is to be considered one of the most prominent classics of English modernism. The central theme of the novel is the interlocking of gender identity, love and artistic creativity. Personal and social realities are cracked in a poetic and cunning way.

Unlike the original story, which ends in 1928, this exploration of time and gender through the centuries continues right up to the year 2019 in Olga Neuwirth’s “opera in 19 scenes”. Olga Neuwirth’s music theatre opens a door into the realm of what has been simultaneously experienced, read and heard, of what is known and felt – in other words, into the realm of fiction shaped by memories. “Ever since I was a child I have been interested in everything from the arts to politics, from the sciences to architecture and human psychology (…) I have let myself be inspired by the small and big things that the world has to offer, by the wonderful diversity of life, and I see this reflected in Orlando. For it is a love of oddities, of the paradoxical, the grotesque, virtuosity, exaltation and exaggeration that are the essence of this fictional biography, which aims to create a new morphology of a narration which is in a constant flow to create a fluid form. At all times it is also about (…) a sophisticated and highly subtle form of sexual attraction that rejects being pigeonholed in any one gender. As well as about refusing to be patronised and treated in a condescending manner – something that continually happens to women, with no end in sight”, says Olga Neuwirth.

The costumes are being designed by Rei Kawakubo, the legendary fashion designer and founder of the international fashion brand Comme des Garçons. The world premiere itself will mark the third act of the project “transformation and liberation”, inspired by Orlando: The first act was a presentation of first ideas at Paris Fashion Week in June 2019, the second act has been a presentation of the ORLANDO collection by Comme des Garçons at Paris Fashion Week in September 2019.

The world première of Orlando on Sunday, 8 December 2019 will be broadcast live on Radio Ö1 (+ EBU).

The performance on 18 December 2019 will be broadcast in HD worldwide via WIENER STAATSOPER live at home

Oper in 19 Bildern | Auftragswerk der Wiener Staatsoper
Musik: Olga Neuwirth | Libretto: Catherine Filloux und Olga Neuwirth

Dirigent: Matthias Pintscher
Regie: Polly Graham
Video: Will Duke
Kostüme: Comme des Garçons
all hair creation by Julien D’ys
Bühnenbild: Roy Spahn
Licht: Ulrich Schneider
Akustik: Markus Noisternig;
Bewegungsregie: Jenny Ogilvie
Regieassistenz: Andrew Bewley
Dramaturgie: Helga Utz

Orlando: Kate Lindsey
Narrator: Anna Clementi
(Guardian) Angel: Eric Jurenas
Queen/Purity/Friend of Orlando’s child: Constance Hauman
Sasha/Chastity: Agneta Eichenholz
Shelmerdine/Greene: Leigh Melrose
Orlando’s child: Justin Vivian Bond

Uraufführung: 8. Dezember 2019 | Reprisen: 11., 14., 18., 20. Dezember 2019

Kompositionsauftrag der Wiener Staatsoper gefördert durch die Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung