Saturday, March 10, 2012

Winds of change in Europe: Barrie Kosky, Dietmar Schwarz

Many things are about to change in good European opera houses. Hopefully Kasper Holten will manage to shake a little bit the temple of conservatism in London which would also leave the Paris Opera as the sole Bastion of stale conservatism among big opera houses in Europe (I know, I know... that's already the case!)

Real changes are about to happen in... in Berlin, of course! Starting from 2012-2013 Barrie Kosky will become the general director of the Komische Oper in Berlin, and Dietmar Schwarz will take the top spot of the Deutsche Oper Berlin (DOB).

Barrie is a brilliant director who spent years in theaters and in opera producing business. Dietmar Schwarz, on the other hand, is a Mortier-kind of genius who is probably the most responsible for the fact that the Theater Basel was elected the best opera house in Europe two years in a row. His openness to the world of theater thrusted Bieto,  Hermann, Bosse, Goerden, von Peter... and many other extraordinarily talented directors to the world of opera. In doing so he never sacrificed the musical excellence of the opera house [one of the currently best singers in the world, Svetlana Ignatovich, forged her skills in Basel].
Kosky replaces Homoki who in turn becomes the general director of the Opernhaus in Zurich [Zurich will likely become one of the top operatic hot spots in Europe (see their new season here)]. Schwarz will replace Kirsten Harms --who rescued the Deutsche Oper after the unfortunate episode with  Thielemann-- and even though I am not fan of her productions, I admire her tenacity and ability to very cleverly adapt to the conditions in Berlin and run judiciously the Deutsche Oper. Ah yes, she's also the one to be thanked for insisting to bring Donald Runnicles to DOB. Runnicles nowadays fascinates everyone, and even the hard core conservatives --who religiously admire everything labeled Thielemann-- finally agree that Runnicles is "as good" - which is telling a lot. So kudos to Kirsten Harms and all the best in whatever she decides to do in the future.

I'd rather talk about the Komische and Barrie Kosky...

Barrie Kosky during the intermission of Die Schweigsame Frau at the Prinzregententheater in Munich

The first thing Barrie Kosky wanted to change at the Komische is that all the operas won't be performed in German anymore. So, for example, Armide, Carmen will be sung in French, Idomeneo, Rigoletto, Traviata in Italian... I complained many times about non-German operas sung in German, and I hope the opera aficionados will appreciate and welcome this change.

Second  thing is that the Komische Oper -- already one of the most exciting places in Europe artistically--  announced their new season, which can be dubbed as "Year One with Barrie Kosky",  and it is superb: you cannot but admire the audacity, desire to go beyond gawking at "Madama Butterfly" with Angela Gheorghiu (for example). Instead, they propose several new operas, a whole lot of new creations, including a fascinating Monteverdi Trilogy that will go on for about 12 hours  --in one go!-- and involve more than 100 musicians/artists coming from Mali, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Hungary... in addition to the entire ensemble and staff of the Komische Oper.

Even the good old Zauberflöte will be special as Barrie decided to call the acclaimed theater company 1927 to collaborate in the creative process of this production. With several new operas, new productions done differently, Kosky is bringing a healthy wind of change to opera in general.
Good luck to Barrie! 

For the whole 2012-2013 program of the Komische please see here, or here.

I noticed that they will even change the logo:

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