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Latest on Forbes: World Premiere of A. Schreier's Hamlet at Theater-an-der-Wien

The Shakespeare Quadricentennial is upon us, hard, and Shakespeare music content is sprouting up wherever we look. If it is just rehashing the regularly played Verdi operas, then that is not much. Better to have something unknown revived, like the Bregenz Festival did with Amleto by Franco Faccio and with a libretto by Arrigo Boito (REVIEW) or commission a new work altogether. That is what the Theater-an-der-Wien did, with Hamlet, set to music by Arno Schreier and Thomas Jonigk writing an almost Shakespeare-free libretto to it. The result, premiered last week, was good, even if good (or OK) is not good enough, for an opera to leave a notable mark. In addition I briefly recap some of the performances that I have seen at the Theater-an-der-Wien in the last two years, which were not always satisfying but never made me waver in my admiration for this little stagione house that could; that bright spot on the cultural scene in Vienna. Full review here:

To Succeed Or Not To Succeed: Theater-An-Der-Wien World Premiere Of "Hamlet"


Anonymous said...

I agree that Theater-an-der-Wien is a major addition to Vienna's musical life. But I must defend the Staatsoper.

First of all there's nothing wrong with a quality museum - and if only the Staatsoper would have preserved the level of singing from the 1950s. But today's reality is what it is and at least the VPO is in the pit - although it is true that the orchestral playing is not always first class and sometimes even embarrassing. But when it's good, wow!

And there are interesting things going on at the Staatsoper. Thomas Ades' 'The Tempest', for instance. Or the re-introduction of baroque operas, some conducted by the same Marc Minkowski who appeared at the Theater-an-der-Wien - although I would have much preferred to have the VPO play that for a change: there are plenty of period instrument ensembles in Vienna. There was some new (for the Staatsoper) Janacek, Weill's 'Mahagonny', and even an opera by Henze: 'Pollicino' - though it was for children. Puccini's 'La fanciulla del West' has not been seen at the House on the Ring for more than 25 years; likewise 'Pelleas'.

Even during Ioan Holender's directorship there were interesting things. Aribert Reimann's Medea was a definit hit, and if Cerha's 'Riese von Steinfeld' and Schnittke's 'Gesualdo' were less successful, the Staatsoper did do a service to important composers. Likewise, Holender introduced at least four major 20th century works to the repertoire: Britten's 'Peter Grimes' and 'Billy Bud', Enescu's 'Oedipe', and Shostakovich' 'Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk', plus new (to the Staatsoper) works by Donizetti and Verdi, and even Meyerbeer for a change. 'Jonny spielt auf' was back at the House ont eh Ring after over 75 years. Hindemith's 'Cardillac' was seen both during Holender's and Dominique Meyer's directorship.

One can only envy the Viennese public for such a variety.

jfl said...

I agree with everything you say, really.. (Although I think there *was* a "La fanciulla" at the Staatsoper -- and only recently, too, because I was there. (And regretted it.) Or are you suggesting that it hadn't been seen for more than 25 years prior to that? The point about Janacek is more my point, though: How can it have taken them until now to put on such essential works? True, Holender was keen on introducing new repertoire, but took some flak for it. Actually, if I hadn't been so forceful in my statement about the VStOp, your statement could be looked on as a critique as much as a defense of the institution. And I think that gets to the point that I was trying to make, in its way.