News – Ring Award 2014
Tatjana Gürbaca directs Verdi’s AIDA at Opernhaus Zürich
Verdi’s opera about the impossible love of the enslaved Ethiopian Princess Aida has thrilled millions of people since its world premiere in 1871. In the new production of AIDA at the Opernhaus Zürich, it is Tatjana Gürbaca, winner of Ring Award 2000 and Opera Director of Staatstheater Mainz, who will put the gripping story on stage. Last season Gürbaca has already caused a furor with her absorbing reading of RIGOLETTO, exposing with utmost precision the dramatic heart of Verdi’s masterpiece.
“Tatjana Gürbaca’s very dense reading develops the story fully from the characters themselves and thus throws a completely new light on Verdi’s RIGOLETTO.” (Neue Zürcher Zeitung)
The curtain will first open on AIDA on 2 March 2014
All Good Things Come in Threes
Dominique Mentha, Intendant of Theatre Lucerne and member of the RING AWARD Jury, has hired three former RING AWARD participants as stage directors: David Hermann, Sam Brown, and Tobias Kratzer.
The first one was David Hermann, winner of RING AWARD 2000. He staged PNIMA … INS INNERE by Chaya Czernowin as a musical psychogramme of repression: using no words but pure sound articulation expressed by the singers, he created an acoustic space of destiny filled with painful and poignant stories.
Sam Brown, winner of the most recent edition of the Competition for Stage Direction and Design, came next and staged LA CENERENTOLA. Gioachino Rossini’s turbulent Screwball Comedy, combining dramaturgical ingenuity and scenic wit with romantic magic, captivates with its colourful and diversified music, which on the one hand indulges in a celebration of farcical humour yet on the other concentrates closely on moments of deeply felt emotion.
„They still exist, those opera evenings that can be blithely relished as they are neither boringly dusty nor weird and top-heavy, yet nonetheless very contemporary – those performances that are stunningly entertaining and devilish funny but can do without any cheap platitudes. British director Sam Brown and his team gave us such a splendid evening at Theatre Lucerne.” (www.oper-aktuell.info)
Finally, on 23 February, the red curtain will go up for RING AWARD 08 winner Tobias Kratzer and ‘his’ CARMEN, for a gipsy woman that defies all bourgeois social norms and is undeterred in following her own impulses and desires. She never gives up her self-determination, even at the cost of her life, and is nonetheless honoured by the dignity of a tragical death on the opera stage.
Restaging of DIE PASSAGIERIN (THE PASSENGER) by Mieczysław Weinberg
Holger Müller-Brandes, in 1997 first winner of the RING AWARD, counts contemporary musical theatre among his favourite fields of activity. He has already worked as a stage director for Kulturfabrik Kampnagel in Hamburg, for Oper Graz, and for Staatsoper Hamburg.
Based on the famous Auschwitz novel, DIE PASSAGIERIN (THE PASSENGER) by Zofia Posmysz, the Polish composer Mieczysław Weinberg wrote the eponymous opera, which was completed in 1968 but premiered only in 2006 at a concert performance in Moscow. It finally had its scenic premiere in 2010 at Bregenz Festival. Staatstheater Karlsruhe followed with the German premiere, in continuation of the series ‘Political Opera’, which started with Erkki-Sven Tüür’s WALLENBERG. WALLENBERG was produced by director Tobias Kratzer and designer Rainer Sellmaier, both the winning team of RING AWARD 2008.
21 March 2014 will see Holger Müller-Brandes’s restaging of DIE PASSAGIERIN, a work centring on the highly emotionally charged encounter on an ocean liner of the former SS-controller Lisa and the KZ-prisoner Martha.
Müller-Brandes will be assisted in this production by the visual artist Philipp Fürhofer, who worked with stage director Stefan Herheim in Amsterdam and at Covent Garden and who will create an abstract-magical stage area for this German premiere.
Next dates: 29.03./04.04./13.05./16.05.2014 – each with 19.30 o’clock.
A short story was turned into a prize-winning film, and now it has become an opera: BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, the drama of the love between two homosexual cowboys in the American Middle West, is put on stage at Teatro Real Madrid. Premiere 28 January.
It was US composer Charles Wuorinen who had the idea for this opera several years ago, and artistic director Gerard Mortier learned about these plans of the 75-year-old musician, one of the most prominent contemporary American composers, from the newspapers.
Mortier, the Belgian who at the time had a contract with New York Opera, was immediately struck by the idea. Its realisation, however, threatened to fall through because Mortier resigned from the contract on account of drastic financial cuts in New York. Yet the former Intendant of Salzburg Festival did not give up the idea; he took it with him to Madrid, where he became the artistic director of Teatro Real.
Mortier made BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN the centrepiece of his project to align the Spanish capital’s opera house, so far internationally of little significance, with the European top institutions. The journal ‘La Razón’ says: “The opera is Mortier’s provocative legacy.” Mortier, suffering from cancer, gave up his position as artistic director in autumn 2013 yet continues working as a consultant for the theatre.
The opera is in no way just an adapted version of Ang Lee’s Hollywood film, which was awarded three Oscars in 2006. “The opera is different from the film”, says Annie Proulx, 78-year-old US author and Pulitzer Prize winner, who wrote the short story on the two gay cowboys and also the libretto for the opera. “The film was more of a romantic nature, but not so the opera […], it is darker and concentrates more on the emotional tensions. […] Basically the opera is not about homosexuality, and also not about homophobia. […] It is about the human need of love.”
Belgian stage director and artistic manager of Toneelgroep Amsterdam, Ivo van Hove, is responsible for this world premiere and has received several awards for his past work (among others, the Dutch Critics’ Award in 2007 and the Netherland Prosceniumprijs in 2008). He sees a parallel to Wagner’s opera TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, which at the moment is also given in Madrid: “Both operas deal with an impossible sexual love that can only be experienced outside of ‘normal’ society – this is where, for me, the social interest of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN lies.”
The third trick: following Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s Auschwitz opera DIE PASSAGIERIN (THE PASSENGER) and Erkki-Sven Tüür’s WALLENBERG, Peter Spuhler, Intendant of Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, who is also a RING AWARD jury member, continues his cycle of political operas at his house.
The young stage director Yuval Sharon, who has his roots in the free US musical theatre scene, presents a brilliant DOCTOR ATOMIC – an opera by John Adams about the construction of the first atomic bomb – and is able to thrill both the international press and his audiences by the skill of his directing.
“General murmur at the launch party – rumours of ‘theatre history’ are heard and, as an exception, the compliments, so typical in theatres, this time sound true. […] John Adams’s opera DOCTOR ATOMIC at Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe is an extraordinary achievement.” (opernnetz.de, Ekkehard Britsch)
“John Adams’s DOCTOR ATOMIC on the construction of the first atomic bomb has turned into a celebrated public success at its premiere on Saturday evening.” (dpa, Martin Röber)
“With DOCTOR ATOMIC the Badische Staatstheater Karlsruhe has carried off a gripping piece which transcends all common operatic conventions.” (Badisches Tagblatt, Nike Luber)
“I would never have thought that a modern musical work can awake such great enthusiasm in me. […] The lesson is clear: a work of such tremendous presence and suggestive fascination as WALLENBERG or THE PASSENGER should act upon us far more often. A very big theatrical event – bravo!” (Der neue Merker, Gerhard Hoffmann)
The full texts of the reviews can be viewed here:
Highly acclaimed TRAVIATA at Staatstheater Mainz
The exceptional Bulgarian stage director Vera Nemirova, who first aroused interest as a finalist at the RING AWARD 2000, now gives new lustre to Verdi’s LA TRAVIATA at Staatstheater Mainz.
Opera director Tatjana Gürbaca, who at the RING AWARD 2000 convinced the jury to make her winner of the prize and who is now herself a member of the RING AWARD directors’ jury, brought Vera Nemirova to Mainz to have her stage an unusual TRAVIATA in which several time levels interlock.
This production was reviewed by many media, including the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. To view this article click HERE.