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Announcements - Deutsche Oper Berlin

 

The Deutsche Oper Big Band delighted Musikfest Berlin 2022 with Charles Mingus' EPITAPH as a tribute to his 100th birthday. Charles Mingus was regarded as a genius and "angry man" of jazz. A highly talented musician who was denied the opportunity to study classical cello because of his skin colour. In the 1940s, only jazz was open to him. EPITAPH, his opus magnum, is a series of 20 expansive pieces lasting over two hours. The inadequately prepared premiere in 1961 was a failure. Only when the composer Gunter Schuller edited it in 1989 from parts and sketches left behind did a realisable score emerge. Under the direction of Titus Engel, the musicians of the BigBand and the orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Jazz Institut Berlin played these expressive worlds with unbridled enthusiasm and remarkable clarity.

Charles Mingus: Epitaph
Label: EuroArts
Total playing time: 136 min (
CD1: 70 mins, CD2: 66 mins)
Year of production: 2024

BigBand of the Deutsche Oper Berlin
Musicians of the Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin
Musicians of the Jazz Institut Berlin
Special guests: Randy Brecker (trumpet), Jorge Puerta (speaker/tenor)
Musical direction: Titus Engel
Recorded live on 19 September 2022 at the Philharmonie Berlin

Release schedule
24 May 2024: Single Epitaph Digital / Track: Freedom
7 June 2024: Single Epitaph Digital / Track: Wolverine Blues
21 June 2024: RELEASE Digital and Physical > Preview

 

Cover of the DVD: Antikrist
 

The Antichrist makes his entrance into a godless world. Sent by Lucifer into the world, he adopts many guises. Mankind is tested and tempted by pride, lust, lies, despondency and hatred in an “all-against-all altercation”. Langgaard’s opera is suffused with fin de siècle atmosphere and pessimism, warning of catastrophe and denouncing the vices of the modern age: egotism, arrogance, frivolity. Langgaard, though, was also an optimist, convinced of the transformative, transcendental power of art and the importance of music as a thread connecting people to the godhead. So it is that the world is freed of all evil and sorrow in the culminating chorus scene in ANTIKRIST. 

The work, composed in the early 1920s, drastically revised up until 1930 and referred to by Langgaard as his “church opera”, is a monument within the oeuvre of the Danish composer, which itself is dotted with striking and unusual compositions. Based on John’s Book of Revelation, it is a mystery play dominated by apocalyptic references which does little to conceal the turn-of-the-century mood – and the associative libretto can be analysed from today’s historical perspective. A spark of hope in the darkness is provided by the dazzling music, a score that is Late Romantic and orchestral in influence but constantly collapsing or distilling into austere details. This is the solitary artist Langgaard discovering his personal style, one that, albeit reminiscent of Strauss and Wagner, is also a nod to his contemporaries Hindemith and Schönberg. The symbolism of the text, the switching and changing music and the muscularity of the whole makes ANTIKRIST one of the most remarkable experiments in 1920s opera.

In the eyes of multi-award-winning director Ersan Mondtag, Langgaard’s opera foretelling a doomsday frenzy is a parable of our own times. His visually arresting production touches on issues such as social fragmentation, the roughening of public discourse and the increasingly bitter climate debate. These concerns are not permitted to out-do the scintillating richness of Langgaard’s music, much of which is purely orchestral: Rob Fordeyn’s choreography is a riveting physical rendition of the score. In his super-aestheticised, expressionist visuals Mondtag is referencing the fine art from the period of ANTIKRIST’s creation, presenting a surreal world in which the laws of physics seem to have been suspended. In his late-capitalist-era urban landscape the world is on the verge of collapse: a car plummets from above, satanic figures swirl around, people are tested and set loose on each other. The punchy, exaggeratedly fantastical images of the director, whose ANTIKRIST in 2022 was his first opera to be staged in Berlin, are perfectly suited to Langgaard’s end-time mystery.

Conductor: Stephan Zilias  
Production, Stage: Ersan Mondtag
Costumes: Annika Lu, Ersan Mondtag
Lighting: Rainer Casper
Choreography: Rob Fordeyn
Dramaturgy: Carolin Müller-Dohle, Lars Gebhardt
Chorus Master: Jeremy Bines

With Thomas Lehman, Jonas Grundner-Culemann, Valeriia Savinskaia, Irene Roberts, Clemens Bieber, Maire Therese Carmack, Flurina Stucki, AJ Glueckert, Andrew Dickinson, Joel Allison and Ashley Wright, Joel Donald Small, Giorgia Bovo, Vasna Felicia Aguilar, Yuri Shimaoka, Juan Corres Benito, György Jellinek, Derrick Amanatidis, Shih-Ping Lin, Ulysse Zangs, Sakura Inoue, Ana Dordevic; Chorus and Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin

The performances of ANTIKRIST on 10 and 12 February 2023 were recorded. A DVD / Blu ray of this production is being produced as a collaboration between Naxos and Deutsche Oper Berlin.

The DVD or Blu-ray is expected to be released on 12 July 2024.

Doris Soffel als Adelaide, Elena Tsallagova als Zdenka, Gabriela Scherer als Arabella
Arabella © Thomas Aurin
 

Vienna, circa 1860. The financially strapped Count Waldner is lodging with his family in a Viennese hotel. His only path to solvency is for him to secure an advantageous marriage for one of his two daughters – and the family can only afford to present Arabella, the eldest, in the upper circles of society. To conceal the family’s indigence, the parents have raised Zdenka as a boy, dressing her accordingly. Arabella is not short of suitors but has resolved to wait for ‘Mr Right’. When Mandryka, an aristocrat from a distant region, arrives, he and Arabella are instantly smitten. Arabella only asks to be able to bid farewell to her friends and suitors at the Fasching ball that evening.

At the ball, Arabella says goodbye to her admirers. There is also the young officer Matteo, with whom Zdenka is secretly in love and with whom she has formed a friendship under the guise of her disguise as a boy. Matteo, however, desires Arabella and is distraught when he realises the hopelessness of his love. Zdenka devises a plan: she fakes a letter from Arabella in which she promises Matteo a night of love together. But instead she wants to wait for him herself in the darkness of the hotel room. Mandryka learns of Arabella's alleged infidelity and goes to the hotel with the ball guests to surprise Arabella in flagrante delicto. Arabella, innocent of this, is initially shocked and saddened by Mandryka’s suspicions but forgives him when the mix-up is revealed for what it is. The two agree to marry, as do Zdenka and Matteo.

Richard Strauss’s orchestral richness and opulence coupled with the period Viennese setting of the work led to ARABELLA being falsely pigeonholed as a light-hearted comedy of errors from its 1933 premiere onwards. In the estimation of Tobias Kratzer, however, who triumphed at the Deutsche Oper with his production of Alexander von Zemlinsky’s THE DWARF, this final collaboration between Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal marks a collision of two world views: the traditional roles of men and women on the one hand – as expressed in Arabella’s famous solo “Und du sollst mein Gebieter sein” – and a modern idea of social interaction on the other – as illustrated by Zdenka with her questioning of gender-based identities. Here, Kratzer turns the spotlight on this disunity between the various character portrayals in ARABELLA and explores these role-specific tensions on a continuum stretching from 19th-century Vienna to the present day.

Conductor: Sir Donald Runnicles
Production: Tobias Kratzer
Stage, costumes: Rainer Sellmaier
Choreography: Jeroen Verbruggen
Lighting: Stefan Woinke
Video: Jonas Dahl, Manuel Braun
Chorus Master: Jeremy Bines

With Albert Pesendorfer, Doris Soffel, Sara Jakubiak, Elena Tsallagova, Russell Braun, Robert Watson, Thomas Blondelle, Kyle Miller, Tyler Zimmerman, Hye-Young Moon, Lexi Hutton, Jörg Schörner a. o.; Chorus and Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin

The performances of ARABELLA on 18 and 23 March 2023 were recorded by rbb Kultur and Naxos. A DVD / Blu-ray of this production is being produced as a collaboration between Naxos and Deutsche Oper Berlin.

The DVD or Blu-ray is expected to be released in December 2024.

Clémentine Margaine als Hérodiade
Hérodiade © Bettina Stöß
 

Few female characters inspired the art of the late 19th century as lastingly as the Judean princess Salome, who legend has it was responsible for the beheading of John the Baptist. In France especially, writers, painters and composers were transfixed by the subject and its heady blend of orientalism, eroticism, decadence and opulence. No less so Jules Massenet, although his treatment, which received its world premiere in Brussels in 1881, focused not on the royal child-woman Salome, whom Richard Strauss was to take as his main protagonist a quarter of a century later, but on her mother Herodias, the wife of King Herod. Strauss’s rendition, his first triumph in the opera genre, kicked open the door to the 20th century, while Massenet’s version, with its pathos, posturing and Hollywood-worthy script, marks one of the last hurrahs of 19th-century grand opéra. With his cast featuring a queen whose jealousy is to blame for her daughter’s death, an enigmatic soothsayer, a prophet who is not immune to feelings of love, a vacillating ruler and a princess who displays a heroic degree of love, Massenet presents a multitude of striking characters and includes a liberal dash of local colour with his use of Hebrew and oriental motifs.

For the concert performance at Deutsche Oper Berlin, the great French mezzo-soprano Clémentine Margaine returned to the house where she celebrated successes as Carmen, Marguerite in LA DAMNATION DE FAUST and most recently as Fidès in LE PROPHÈTE.

Conductor: Enrique Mazzola
Chorus Master: Jeremy Bines
With Etienne Dupuis, Clémentine Margaine, Nicole Car, Matthew Polenzani, Marko Mimica, Dean Murphy, Kyle Miller, Sua Jo, Thomas Cilluffo, Chorus and Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin

The performances of HÉRODIADE on 15 and 18 June 2023 will be recorded. A CD of this production is a collaboration between Naxos and the Deutsche Oper Berlin.

The CD is expected to be released in November 2024.

DVD „Graf Ory“

In 2010, Matthias Henneberger, the in-house counsel and media representative of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, inspired the Arthaus Musik label with the idea of releasing early television recordings of opera productions on DVD for the first time to mark the 100th anniversary of the Deutsche Oper. This involved a total of 15 recordings from the years 1961 to 1987, seemingly inaccessible and waiting to be rediscovered in the archives of rbb (formerly SFB) and ZDF with broadcasting rights that had long since expired.

It took two more years of intensive and worldwide research to find out the whereabouts of all the artists in the recordings or, if they were already deceased, their heirs, and to obtain the necessary consents for publication. The publications then began with Mozart's DON GIOVANNI; the recording of the legendary 1961 opening production of the new Deutsche Oper Berlin building, directed by Carl Ebert and featuring Ferenc Fricsay, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Elisabeth Grümmer, Pilar Lorengar, Walter Berry, Donald Grobe, Josef Greindl and Erika Köth. Up to 2014, 12 further opera productions followed, including recordings such as OTELLO (1962) with Renata Tebaldi, FIDELIO (1963) with Christa LudwIg as well as Korngold's DIE TOTE STADT (1983) and Offenbach's ORPHEUS IN DER UNTERWELT (1984), both staged by Götz Friedrich.

After a break of several years, the edition is to be completed in the 2021/22 season with the last two remaining recordings. The first will be the recording of Franz Lehár's DIE LUSTIGE WITWE from 1979 directed by August Everding with Gwyneth Jones, René Kollo, Siegfried Jerusalem and actor Erik Ode. It will be followed by Gioacchino Rossini's rarely performed comic opera GRAF ORY.

GRAF ORY, a recording from 1964, is not the earliest recording in the edition, but it goes back further in the history of the Deutsche Oper Berlin than any other recording in this series. The premiere, staged by the then artistic director Carl Ebert, took place on 4 March 1957 still in the Städtische Oper, which had found quarters in the Theater des Westens after the destruction of the main building on Bismarckstraße due to the war. With 40 performances in two years, the production of Rossini's unknown opera became an unexpectedly great success with audiences, which was probably due in no small part to the equally surprising and ravishing set design by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle (1932-1988), who was then still at the very beginning of his world career as a set designer and opera director.

The production of GRAF ORY, just like the other productions of the Städtische Oper, was not transferred to the newly built building of the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 1961 because of the much smaller stage dimensions of the Theater des Westens. However, the success of the production was so vividly remembered that in 1964 the SFB decided to reconstruct the staging and set of GRAF ORY for recordings in the Berlin studios of Accord Filmproduktion and to film it with conductor Hans Hilsdorf, the orchestra and chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin and the soloists Martin Häusler, Stina-Britta Melander, Ernst Krukowski, Fritz Hoppe and the great contralto Margarete Klose (1902-1968) in the small role of Apollonia.

Only one copy of this film, which was shot in black and white according to the practice of television stations at the time, could be found in the archives. Although otherwise in excellent quality, the film reel had a continuous optical defect in the shots of the 2nd and 3rd acts. This made it necessary to extensively restore the damaged parts of the film at Arthaus Musik's studios in Halle. Once this restoration work has been completed, the DVD will be released in 2022 as the 15th and last opera recording in the Deutsche Oper Berlin's large DVD edition.

The DVD of Erich Wolfgang Korngold's rarely performed masterpiece DAS WUNDER DER HELIANE has been awarded the OPUS KLASSIK, the best-known prize for classical music in Germany and successor to the Echo Klassik. The award for the recording produced by the Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Naxos label was given for the best recording in the category "20th/21st century opera recording". The recording of the production directed by Christof Loy featured Marc Albrecht as conductor, Sara Jakubiak, Brian Jadge and Josef Wagner in the main roles, as well as the orchestra and chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin.

The DVD of HELIANE was in "best company" for this choice. Alongside it, the CD of Detlev Glanert's new opera OCEANE, produced by Deutsche Oper Berlin and the OehmsClassics label, was one of the three opera recordings that made it to the final selection of nominations for this category.

However, the world premiere of OCEANE documented by the CD, which took place on 28 April 2019 at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, paved the way for another award winner: Detlev Glanert was awarded the OPUS KLASSIK as "Composer of the Year" for this work.

We congratulate Detlev Glanert and all the contributors to the DVD DAS WUNDER DER HELIANE on these awards!

Between the spring of 2018 and 2021, four DVD productions have already been made as a result of the new cooperation between the Deutsche Oper Berlin and the producer Naxos. The success story of this collaboration began with the DVD of Erich Wolfgang Korngold's almost forgotten masterpiece DAS WUNDER DER HELIANE, which was awarded the OPUS KLASSIK 2020 after its release. Two more recordings followed in 2019: in spring, the recording of Alexander von Zemlinsky's DER ZWERG, which was nominated for the GRAMMY AWARD 2021 after its release, and in autumn, the recording of Chaya Czernowin's new opera HEART CHAMBER. The DVD, which in addition to the complete recording of HEART CHAMBER also includes a documentary film about the world premiere production, is due for release in spring 2021. The last of the previous recordings was also of a real rarity, Riccardo Zandonai's little-known masterpiece FRANCESCA DA RIMINI, in March 2021. The DVD of this opera, whose premiere was streamed live on 14 March, is expected to be available in spring 2022.

Further recordings of new productions of Deutsche Oper Berlin by Naxos are planned for the coming seasons. Joint plans also include a double DVD of highlights from 26 years of the Festive Opera Gala's existence for the German AIDS Foundation, bringing together many of its most prominent contributors and scheduled for release by the end of this year.

Television in HD format is generally regarded as a technical development of recent years. All the more surprising, therefore, is what the production company EuroArts was able to announce as early as 1991: "The first television recording in the history of West German television in HDTV with European standard". The venue for this technical innovation was the Deutsche Oper Berlin, its subject Giacomo Meyerbeer's DIE HUGENOTTEN in John Dew's production. The pioneering act, described by the production company as an "option for the future", was soon forgotten. Due to a lack of suitable transmission and reception technology, the broadcasts on television took place in the classic broadcast format; for the home video sector, the recording was first released on video cassette and since then on DVD. In the course of preparing the DVD reissue of DIE HUGENOTTEN, however, the Arthaus Musik label decided to take on the early HD format of the recording as well. After successful restoration, DIE HUGENOTTEN are now also available on Blu ray Disc - and thus for the first time in their original optical quality - more than 20 years after their recording.

Four complete opera recordings of the Deutsche Oper Berlin from 1987 to 1995 and the recording of the 14th Festive Opera Gala for the German AIDS Foundation from 2007 had already been released by Arthaus Musik when the opera house and the label agreed in 2010 to intensify their collaboration once again within the framework of a DVD cooperation. The cooperation began with the release of the recording of RIENZI, THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES (2010), followed by Richard Strauss' DIE LIEBE DER DANAE (2011). Then it was the anniversary of the 100th anniversary of the Deutsche Oper Berlin that provided the occasion for an ambitious and extraordinarily elaborate project, an edition of DVD first releases of television recordings of the house from 1961 to 1987. The series began in October 2011 with the 1961 recording of DON GIOVANNI, the opening premiere of the Deutsche Oper Berlin's new building. Since then, the project has become one of the world's largest DVD editions of its kind, with 13 opera recordings to date, available both as individual DVDs and in two anniversary box sets of five recordings each. In parallel, Arthaus Musik produced the 90-minute documentary film "Overture 1912 - The Deutsche Oper Berlin" directed by Enrique Sánchez Lansch together with RBB, which was first shown on television in October 2012 and is now also available on DVD. In addition, Arthaus Musik released DIE HUGENOTTEN (1991) and TRISTAN UND ISOLDE (1993), which are among the world's first opera recordings in HD format and were previously only available in traditional technology on video and DVD, for the first time in their original HD version on Blu ray Disc in 2013. In June 2015, the Janácek opera JENUFA under the musical direction of Donald Runnicles and directed by Christof Loy was released as a further and now 22nd DVD of the Deutsche Oper Berlin by Arthaus Musik, which was nominated for a GRAMMY AWARD after its release.

Current plans within the framework of the collaboration include the completion of the major DVD edition of the Deutsche Oper Berlin. The recording of Lehár's DIE LUSTIGE WITWE from 1979 with Gwyneth Jones, René Kollo and Siegfried Jerusalem in the leading roles is to be released this year. And the finale, then the 15th DVD in the edition, will be Rossini's rarely performed opera COUNT ORY, based on one of the most successful productions of the Städtische Oper from 1957, which was filmed with the ensemble of the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 1964. The DVD of this recording will be released after the completion of the current extensive restoration of the only surviving original of the film material.

We will keep you informed about the progress of the current projects and other future plans and publications on this website

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