Berlin State Opera: Last round for artistic director Matthias Schulz

In which direction will the Staatsoper go now that Daniel Barenboim has had to resign from the post of general music director due to illness? This is currently still completely unclear. Because the new culture senator decides on the filling of the prestigious post. Until she or he is appointed and able to get used to the job, Unter den Linden is navigating into the unknown.

On the other hand, it is already clear where State Opera Director Matthias Schulz will be heading in the future: far to the south-west. He has already signed a contract with the Zurich Opera. In the summer of 2024 he packed his things in Berlin and handed over the executive chair to his successor Elisabeth Sobotka, who came from the Bregenz Festival.

Anna Netrebko sings Verdi’s Lady Macbeth

There will be five premieres on the big stage in Schulz’ last season. Antonin Dvorak’s “Rusalka” (conductor: Robin Ticciati, director: Kornel Mundruczo) goes particularly well with the season motto “speechless” – because the title heroine has to give up her voice in order to be able to change from mermaid to human woman out of love for a man.

Calixto Bieito will set the stage for “Aida”, the musical direction of the Verdi opera lies with Nicola Luisotti, and Elina Garanca shines in the premiere cast as the Egyptian princess. Anna Netrebko, on the other hand, will be seen as Verdi’s Lady Macbeth on Unter den Linden.

A Berlin season without Daniel Barenboim

With the new “Aida” and four revivals of other Verdi and four Puccini works, the 2023/24 program could already anticipate a possible new artistic orientation of the State Opera. Away from the oversized Wagner works that Daniel Barenboim loved so much, towards the Italian music theater of the 19th century. An attractive vision.

Of course, other pillars of the program remained Mozart’s masterpieces as well as contemporary works – and of course everything baroque, if only because of the historic building. Matthias Schulz made a name for himself during his tenure in the 17th and 18th centuries in particular. For the Baroque Days 2023 in autumn he can summon the conductor Simon Rattle, the director Peter Sellars and, as a stage designer, the architecture doyen Frank Gehry, who Marc- Antoine Charpentier’s “Medée”. Rattle’s wife Magdalena Kozena takes on the title role.

Seven female conductors can be seen

The new productions continue with Modest Mussorgsky’s great choral opera “Khovanshchina”. The director Claus Guth takes on that. At his side will be the conductor Simon Young, who also directs the revival of Puccini’s “Fanciulla del West”. And a second conductor takes over a production, namely Marie Jacquot, at the premiere of Marc-André Dalbavie’s “Melancholy of Resistance”.

Matthias Schulz, born in 1977, has been Artistic Director of the State Opera since 2018.
© dpa/Monika Skolimowska

Schulz has invited seven female conductors to the Lindenoper in 2023/24. In the repertoire, Kristiina Poska will take over the musical direction of “Magic Flute”, Joana Mallwitz of “Rosenkavalier”, Speranza Scappucci of “La Traviata” and Giedre Slekyte of “Rigoletto”. Elim Cham conducts a symphony concert by the Staatskapelle.

Philippe Jordan conducts the “Ring”

In addition to greats like Manfred Honeck, Thielemann, Mehta, Ratte and Ivan Fischer, the name Rafael Payare also catches the eye at the concerts. Born in 1980, the Venezuelan conductor, who will also lead a “Turandot” series, has been the head of the Orchester Symphonique de Montréal since 2022.

In the coming season, symphonies by Bruckner and Mahler will be the focus of concerts by the in-house orchestra, which has taken Barenboim to the top of the world. However, the name of the long-time General Music Director is no longer in the preview for the new season.

Extensive youth program

Jaap van Zweeden takes over Beethoven’s “Ninth” on New Year’s Eve, while Philippe Jordan conducts the “Ring des Nibelungen” during the Easter holidays. Born in Switzerland in 1974, he began his career as Barenboim’s assistant on Unter den Linden and is currently Music Director of the Vienna State Opera.

It is piquant that in the coming season the complete “Ring” cycle will be performed five times in Berlin, three times at the Deutsche Oper and twice at the State Opera. Has the eternal nagging of cultural politicians about the lack of agreements within the Opera Foundation really been of no use?

“On the one hand, we have proven over the last few years that the three companies coordinate very well,” answers Matthias Schulz, “on the other hand, I think it is enriching in this case that we are showing the two “Ring” productions at the same time, so that you can hear and see them in comparison.” After all, that’s not possible in any other metropolis in the world.

The youth program of the house, which is very important to the father of five, Matthias Schulz, is extensive. And he proudly presents the two successful world premieres of his tenure, “Violetter Schnee” by Beat Furrer and “Sleepless” by Peter Eötvös.

His last season will be just as he always wanted: he can bundle the red threads that he laid out again, the new technology in the renovated house runs smoothly, he has a lot of artists who fascinate him brought together to form creative teams: “I can’t do it any better,” says Matthias Schulz with a laugh.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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