Questions for ... Detlev Glanert

His mermaid returns

The composer Detlev Glanert wrote his opera OCEANE for the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Now it is revived.

The world premiere of OCEANE in 2019 was a great success. How do you view the work now, across a distance of three years?
Actually, OCEANE is still very much alive in my mind – presumably because corona has so far prevented the new productions scheduled elsewhere from happening, and the revival at the Deutsche Oper was also postponed. I feel much more estranged from older pieces: when I saw a production of my opera LEYLA UND MEDJNUN, written in 1988, in Vienna a while ago, I was astonished at how frightfully bad I was at the time – but also how frightfully good.

Do you occasionally have an impulse to change your compositions after the fact?
The truth is that I incorporate the experiences of the rehearsal period after every world premiere. Every singer is different, so I find it important to offer alternatives, making it easier for the performers to own their roles. These changes, however, are completed in the year following the premiere. 

Do your works written since the beginning of corona bear any trace of the experiences of this time?
First and foremost, corona made me enormously sad. At times, this frustration with the situation and the feeling of having been silenced meant that I was hardly able to work. The compositions themselves, however, were hardly affected. Works such as the opera I am currently writing for Dresden had been conceived far before corona. Yet there is one exception: the Concertgebouw Orkest in Amsterdam asked me whether I would write an orchestral song for them. That was a nice bit of consolation for me during the lockdown. I set the poem “Der Einsiedler” by Eichendorff, which reflected my mood and outlook. One might say that was my musical contribution to the coronavirus era.


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