Baroque, ballet to stage a comeback at Vienna Opera

VIENNA - Modern opera, baroque productions and ballet are due for a major revival under the Vienna Opera's new director, Dominique Meyer, who presented his upcoming projects here Tuesday.
Meyer, the first Frenchman to head the prestigious opera house, replaces Romanian-born Ioan Holender who ruled over productions for 18 years but had lately come under increasing fire from critics for his lack of innovation.

The opening ceremony of Vienna's 54th annual Opera Ball
The opening ceremony of Vienna's 54th annual Opera Ball
Under its new general manager, the number of original productions at the 140-year-old Vienna Opera will increase from four to six per season, with the return also of two modern operas that have long been missing from the Staatsoper's repertoire: "Cardillac" by German composer Paul Hindemith and "Katia Kabanova" by Czech Leos Janacek.
Baroque opera, banished under Holender's reign, will also experience a comeback with a staging of "Alcina" by Germany's Georg Friedrich Haendel.
"Anna Bolena", by Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti, will make its first appearance at the Vienna Opera, with a star cast including Russian soprano Anna Netreko and Latvian mezzo Elina Garanca.
And original productions of two works by Austria's favourite son Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart -- "Don Giovanni" and "The Marriage of Figaro" -- are also planned, conducted by the Opera's new musical director, Austrian Franz Welser-Moest.
The 49-year-old Welser-Moest, whom Meyer has described as "one of the most talented conductors of his generation", forms part of Meyer's distinguished new team alongside Paris Opera etoile dancer Manuel Legris, 45, who will take over as director of the Vienna Opera Ballet.
With Legris's help, Meyer is already planning to premiere at least nine ballets at the Staatsoper, as well as a hommage to Jerome Robbins, the legendary choreographer of "West Side Story", and a Nureyev Gala evening.
Other top choreographers whose works will feature in the Vienna Opera Ballet's repertoire include George Balanchine, William Forsythe, Twyla Tharp, Jiri Kylian, Sol Leon, Paul Lightfoot, Jiri Bubenicek and Jorma Elo.
The 54-year-old Meyer, who takes up his post on September 1 for five years, made it clear in an interview with AFP that his focus was on the artists.
"The gods are on the stage, not in the offices," he said, calling for more premieres, more modern opera and a "comeback for baroque".
"Baroque opera works very well in Paris, New York and London. So there is no reason to do without it, especially since there is such an extensive repertoire."
He also insisted he did not want to "draw any line between opera and ballet, which needs a revival, but to give back to dance the attention it deserves."
Meyer said he was also planning more shows for children.
"Their role in teaching young people about opera and ballet is crucial," he said.

Tuesday, March 23rd 2010

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