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A breath of fresh air at the Deutsche Oper Berlin?: Aviel Cahn takes over as artistic director

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The mail arrives in the mailbox at 7.01 a.m. “Hurry up!” begins the subject line. And indeed – just four hours later, Senator for Culture Klaus Lederer wants to announce the appointment of a new director at the Deutsche Oper. That must be a red-hot personality if its announcement is scheduled at such short notice. Especially since the position is not available until August 31, 2026.

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Or is there a left-wing politician who is under a lot of pressure because it is by no means certain that he will be able to continue his beloved job after the House of Representatives by-election on Sunday?

unanimous choice

No, emphasizes Klaus Lederer, he just wanted to avoid the name leaking out before he can officially pronounce it. At the meeting on Monday morning, the board of trustees of the opera foundation unanimously voted in favor of the senator’s candidate, after which the staff of the Deutsche Oper was informed. And now it’s the turn of the press.

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There are only two chairs in the foyer of the largest music theater in Berlin. So Lederer didn’t choose a collective. But maybe a woman? According to the coalition program, more diversity in every respect is urgently needed at the management level of the capital’s cultural beacons.

In addition to the 48-year-old Dr. legal Klaus Lederer then takes a seat, Aviel Cahn, the same age and also a doctor of law. Born in Zurich, he also studied piano and singing.

Cahn launches in 2026

His career as a cultural manager began at the turn of the millennium in Beijing, where he was part of the founding team of the China National Symphony Orchestra. After a stint at the Helsinki Opera, he headed the music theater department in Bern, Switzerland, and in 2009 finally became artistic director of the Opera Vlaanderen Antwerpen/Gent. In 2019 he moved to the Grand Théâtre de Genève as General Director.

He wants to stay there for another three and a half years, which is why after the resignation of the current director Dietmar Schwarz, who will retire in the summer of 2025, the Deutsche Oper will have to endure an interim season: Opera director Christoph Seuferle and general music director Donald Runnicles will temporarily manage the operation .

Will Runnicles stay?

Runnicles’ contract runs until 2027. It was not known on Monday whether the Scot is seeking an extension beyond this date. Because the maestro had not come to the presentation of his future director. And neither Aviel Cahn nor Klaus Lederer wanted to reveal their opinion on the chief conductor question.

In view of Daniel Barenboim’s resignation as General Music Director of the State Opera due to illness, the discussion about how the Berlin music theater scene should be designed in the future must take place right now.

Opera should be political

Could the smaller Unter den Linden theater put a focus on the Italian repertoire, especially on the bel canto, which is so criminally neglected in the German capital? And should the Deutsche Oper once again become the leading stage for Richard Wagner’s works, now that the all-powerful Barenboim no longer claims this for his house?

Aviel Cahn didn’t really want to admit to the Bayreuth champions on Monday. There are also great large-format operas that have only been created in the past 50 years, he pointed out.

The designated artistic director also remained extremely vague in relation to his artistic line. His pre-pre-pre-predecessor Götz Friedrich always emphasized that opera is an art form of great socio-political importance.

And Cahn’s ideas for site-specific dramaturgy, for cooperation with dance or fine arts, for the use of the entire house and not just the big stage, outlined on Monday, also sound pretty worn out in Berlin. As if someone was carrying owls to Spreeathen.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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