“Often they garner a bare nod en passant despite being difficult to miss onstage. And hardly anyone in the stalls has the first idea what their names are - not that it would ever occur to anyone to question their importance for the production. The critics, too, rarely devote more than a couple of sentences to them, even though opera would be a shadow of itself without them. LOHENGRIN, AIDA or TURANDOT without chorus singers? Impossible,” wrote Albrecht Thiemann, editor of “Opernwelt”. “What would we care about Tannhäuser’s plight at Wartburg Castle if the Thuringian Landgrave’s assembled courtiers didn’t vent their anger in mighty unison at the man who had emerged from the depths of the Venusberg? And how would we shudder at the raging jealousy of Verdi’s Othello if it weren’t reflected as tragic madness in the noisy bubblings of perturbation amongst his people? Without a powerful chorus the great engine of sentiment would not amount to much.”
The chorus is indeed instrumental in the success of an opera performance. Its members are possessed of a high degree of artistry and professionalism. Evening after evening they demonstrate their command of the styles, genres and languages of opera. This breadth of proficiency has been on proud display in recent years as the chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin has gone from strength to strength. Building on its international reputation as one of the supreme interpreters of the operas of Wagner and Verdi, the chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin has reaffirmed its ability to excel in the musical theatre of the 20th and 21st centuries with its productions of Britten’s PETER GRIMES and BILLY BUDD, Shostakovich’s LADY MACBETH OF THE MTSENSK DISTRICT and Helmut Lachenmann’s THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL.
Opera Chorus of the Year 2008, 2009 and 2010 and recipient of European Chorus Award presented by Pro Europa Foundation.
Years of intensive rehearsals in the works of the repertoire are required before a new member of the ensemble can be said to have acquired a level of mastery. Singers are gauged not only by the quality of their voice but also by their acting skill and ability to work as part of group. Chorus members also have to be receptive to new ideas and techniques proposed by the director or conductor. Preparatory work in the chorus hall, which is where new parts are studied and developed, also requires great attentiveness on the part of chorus members. The aim is to give the chorus its own, unmistakeable sound while incorporating it seamlessly into the work as a whole. No easy task when one considers that an opera chorus, like an orchestra, comprises a panoply of artistic individuals, whose full effect is only realised as a single corpus onstage.
A number of renowned chorus masters and conductors have left a lasting imprint on the Deutsche Oper Berlin Chorus, one of the world’s great companies in the field of musical theatre. Prominent alongside Walter Hagen-Groll, who built and fashioned the chorus over a period of almost 50 years, are the names of Marcus Creed and Karl Kamper. From 2007 to 2016 William Spaulding, as Principal Chorus Master, imbued the chorus with its own distinctive sound, resulting in no less than three “Opera Chorus of the Year” awards and a runaway popular and critical triumph with a guest performance of TANNHÄUSER at the London Proms. There followed an interim period with Raymond Hughes at the helm. Since the start of the 2017/18 season the position of Chorus Master has been held by Jeremy Bines, former head of the Glyndebourne Festival Chorus.
As an adjunct to the work of the chorus live onstage the Deutsche Oper Berlin also produces CDs and DVDs of its performances. Christian Thielemann’s production of CARMINA BURANA by Carl Orff – to cite but one example – was released by Deutsche Grammophon.
The concert association of the chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, founded in 2013 and composed of members of the chorus, does sterling work as a cultural ambassador for Berlin. One of its first high-level assignments came on 4th August with an appearance at the legendary BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Click here for the website of the Konzertvereinigung des Chores der Deutschen Oper Berlin e. V.