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Serge Dorny on his first season as director of the Bavarian State Opera


Nine out of eleven opera premieres with pieces from the 20th century, that's an announcement (list at the end of the interview). Much else will change when Serge Dorny takes up his post as artistic director of the Bavarian State Opera in the fall. The 59-year-old was previously head of the opera in Lyon, which the Belgian-born helped achieve international renown.

Nine out of eleven opera premieres with pieces from the 20th century, that's an announcement (list at the end of the interview).

Much else will change when Serge Dorny takes up his post as artistic director of the Bavarian State Opera in the fall.

The 59-year-old was previously head of the opera in Lyon, which the Belgian-born helped achieve international renown.


Serge Dorny, future director of the Bavarian State Opera, in conversation with music editor Markus Thiel.

© Marcus sleep

Culinary enthusiasts could groan at their first season because they miss Mozart, Verdi or Wagner premieres.

What do you reply?

There is no need to groan. The Bavarian State Opera is in the fortunate position of having a well-stocked repertoire and thus being able to offer a wide range of operas every season. This offers perspectives for new productions that add colors to the repertoire and broaden it even further. “Peter Grimes”, for example, one of the masterpieces of the 20th century, had its last premiere in 1991 at the Bavarian State Opera - with René Kollo in the title role. I consider the beginning of the 20th century to be an extremely interesting and diverse time. And not just musically. Many composers were inspired by great literary works or worked with great writers.

The first premiere of an artistic director is always a calling card. What do you want to say to your new audience with a grotesque two-hour satire like Shostakovich's "Nose"?

I want to have a motto for every season. In the first season it is a quote from the Hungarian writer Dezsö Kosztolányi. He says: “Everyone is a masterpiece. Everyone is a king. ”So it's about the differences that make up a society, and that runs through all premieres. We often have trouble with those who are different from us. The opposites are what enriches them. Shostakovich's opera is all about that: a person without a nose loses part of his identity. However, identity has become extremely important in our society because it reflects personal status. We are very busy with ourselves: who or what are we? How do we look "The nose" also offers the new general music director Vladimir Jurowski the opportunity toto present the ensemble of the house in a production. "The nose" is a very interesting piece both musically and thematically.

Many pieces in your first season have not been played here for a long time.

In addition, there are directors like Kirill Serebrennikow or Stefan Herheim, who are very popular internationally but will debut in Munich.

Is the Bavarian State Opera lagging behind the general development?

I cannot answer that question for you.

Mozart, Strauss and Wagner are incredibly well positioned here.

But the great works of Rossini, Janáček or Britten are actually less present.

So there are ways to set new accents.

Is the audience sometimes underestimated when it comes to concentrating on the hits?

There is an extremely curious audience in Munich. It is aesthetically very open when you look at the theatrical manuscripts of the past decades. And everyone always went with me. I don't underestimate the audience. That is why we offer a variety of options. Of course there are also continuities, let's take the return of director Barrie Kosky, for example. But we also want to introduce new directors like Anna-Sophie Mahler, Marie-Eve Signeyrole or David Marton. Christophe Honoré, who directs “Les Troyens”, has never worked on a German opera house. I try to show a variety of manuscripts - and that includes the trench. Think of Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, Gábor Káli or the principal guest conductor Daniele Rustioni.

Almost all premieres are co-productions, among others with Moscow and Sydney.

Is that the only reason why you can bring out eleven new operas, also because of this financial cooperation?

We show productions, also in the future seasons, that are to be included in the repertoire in the medium to long term.

Others will have a shorter lifespan.

Penderecki's “The Devils of Loudun” or Berlioz's “Les Troyens”, for example, are masterpieces, and we have the responsibility to enable them to continue on stage and to enable them to see and hear again and again.

Therefore also co-productions, because they ensure further dissemination.

It is, if you will, a question of sustainability.

You are lucky enough to start in September, when - it is to be hoped - the worst of the Corona period will be over.

Are you still afraid that your big plans for the next few years will fail due to shrinking cultural budgets?

Bavaria is a cultural state, that's even in the constitution.

Often nothing of this was noticeable in the past 14 months.

Nevertheless, there will come a time when there will be less money available.

The Ministry of Art knows what we are planning to do in the coming years.

And I assume that these plans will continue to receive financial support.

So I was assured.

Coproductions also ensure financially that our plans can be realized.

Will it stay with this large number of premieres, with this symphony with eleven bangs?

In the next season there is a symphony with ten drum beats.

We're going to try to have ten or eleven opera premieres each season.

We also try to add highly interesting line-ups and conductors to the repertoire.

I want to take care of the repertoire as well as the premieres.

Every idea must be seen as a necessity.

In general, theater is an absolute necessity in our society.

It brings people together again and again.

We spend a lot of time on social networks, in front of the computer or tablet, but our society lacks places where people can meet and gather.

Learning from the pandemic: What about digital formats in the future?

At the beginning of the pandemic, streams were used as a 1: 1 solution. What was on the stage was broadcast that way. But actually it can't translate the action on stage that way. I am then only allowed to see it through the eyes of a director; I also lack collective experience, the common reaction to what is offered. I myself never actually watch a three-hour opera on the screen. The digital offers an incredible number of other possibilities that we haven't used yet, but will now! But the biggest lesson from the pandemic: the audience is the most important thing! For us viewers and listeners, but also for the artists on stage. We all react to each other.

In our conversation two years ago you said that you first had to get to know Munich's cultural life, its actors and its possibilities better. How does this biotope look to you?

It was always clear to me how rich the cultural life is here. In the meantime I have met many actors, from museums to theaters to the theater academy. From orchestras to film schools. I got to know great, open and very interested people. In this unbelievable cultural cosmos, I would like to set my own new momentum by reorganizing some things or putting them in new contexts. For example, “Opera for Everyone” in Ansbach at the start of the season at the September Festival. That is why the “Ja, Mai” spring festival, which links contemporary music theater to other genres and art forms such as spoken theater, visual arts and dance. There will be collaborations with other theaters and institutes. The Bavarian State Opera will not be a prime,but to be a Unus inter pares - and a catalyst.

What is so important about Ansbach that you start your first season there on September 17, 2021 with an “Opera for Everyone” concert and Jonas Kaufmann?

We are the Bavarian State Opera, so not exclusively for the people of Munich.

The idea is to start the Septemberfest in a different location every year.

It can also be Munich or Landshut.

I just wonder how we can present ourselves differently in urban society, but also in the regions.

In Munich we offer one-hour short formats for the first September festival.

Puccini's “Il tabarro” and “Gianni Schicchi”, ballet in the Cuvilliéstheater or a jazz concert, all at a very affordable price.

In the Brunnenhof there will be a wide range of options, including flash mobs and participatory performances.

If you compare your start in Lyon with the one in Munich: How do these two moments differ for you?

You made Lyon the second most important opera house in France, so you did some building work.

And here?

The Lyon Opera and the Bavarian State Opera cannot be compared.

Munich is a different chapter for me.

The Bavarian State Opera is a top house.

The interesting thing for me will be a new survey.

The house rightly has very strong roots.

But maybe we strap on our wings and fly in directions that we hadn't thought of before.

We have to keep inspiring and surprising the audience.

The interview was conducted by Markus Thiel.

The premieres of the 2021/2022 season:


“The Nose” by Shostakovich on October 24th, 21st (conductor: Vladimir Jurowski, director: Kirill Serebrennikow).

"Giuditta" by Lehár on December 18th, 21st (Gábor Káli, Christoph Marthaler).

“The clever little fox” by Janácek on January 30th, 22nd (Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla, Barrie Kosky).

“Peter Grimes” by Britten on February 28th, 22nd (Edward Gardner, Stefan Herheim).

“L'infedeltà delusa” by Haydn on March 19, 22, opera studio (Giedre Slekyte, Marie-Eve Signeyrole).

“Les Troyens” by Berlioz on 9.5.22 (Daniele Rustioni, Christophe Honoré).

“Blood house - Lamento della Ninfa, Il ballo delle ingrate” by Haas and Monteverdi on May 21, 22 (Titus Engel, Claus Guth).

"Koma - Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda" by Haas and Monteverdi on May 22nd, 2002 (Teodor Currentzis, Romeo Castellucci). "Thomas - Lamento d'Arianna" by Haas and Monteverdi on May 23rd, 22 (Alexandre Bloch, Anna-Sophie Mahler ).

“The Devils of Loudun” by Penderecki on June 27th, 22nd (Vladimir Jurowski, Simon Stone).

“Capriccio” by Strauss on July 17th, 22nd (Lothar Koenigs, David Marton).


“Cinderella” on November 19th, 21st (Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon).

“Passagen” on March 26th, 22nd (Alexei Ratmansky, David Dawson, Marco Goecke).

“Today is tomorrow” on June 24th, 22nd (young choreographers, to be announced).

Source: merkur

All life articles on 2021-06-10

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