The 2021/22 season

Finally, this complete silence will now disappear from our opera houses and concert halls. Of course, recordings and images were broadcast via screens, streaming or video-on-demand and reached us in our homes during the pandemic. They made it possible to maintain artistic work and contact with the audience. Nevertheless, this crisis showed us that the real and physical presence of the audience is inseparable from the life of an opera house. It is its heart and soul. I am so happy that so many cultural institutions and the Bayerische Staatsoper as well of course, can now open their doors again and be there for absolutely everyone.

The Bayerische Staatsoper can look back proudly over a long and rich history, which over the years and centuries has cemented its important and essential place in Munich’s and Bavaria’s history, and beyond this in Europe’s and the world’s musical and operatic history. Masterpieces that were and are played and celebrated all over the world, first saw the light of day here in Munich: Idomeneo, Tristan and Isolde und Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Capriccio, Lear and so many more. Exceptionally talented music directors such as Wolfgang Sawallisch, Zubin Mehta, Kent Nagano and Kirill Petrenko have also worked and delivered some of their best work here. Grand masters for us, some of whom were also very young when appointed: Hans von Bülow was 37, Richard Strauss 30, Bruno Walter 37, Hans Knappertsbusch and Georg Solti were both 34. The Bayerische Staatsoper is also characterised by the intimate connection of the city’s inhabitants with opera, who, following the War, dedicated themselves entirely to rebuilding the Nationaltheater and who make for exceptionally knowledgeable audiences. The Bayerische Staatsoper’s rich history humbles me, but also makes me proud to able to be a part of it. It spurs us to be inventive, to have tradition form an inspiring connection together with innovation, so opera remains a living art form, of key importance for the city’s society, today and tomorrow.

My immediate predecessors also ensured this, each in their own way and with so much talent and dedication: Peter Jonas, who sadly passed away last year, and Nikolaus Bachler. A page is turned, a new chapter begins, which we will write together, with the audience, with the magnificent team of the Bayerische Staatsoper and the new General Music Director, Vladimir Jurowski. Our work is characterised by our great respect for the history of this house, and for that which has gone before us. We are inspired by its inventiveness, its boldness and its joy of discovery. Along with established conductors and direction teams, we will offer a podium to a new generation of artistes. We will create space for various theatrical signatures and styles, diverse and complementary at once. We will explore the repertoire in all its wealth and diversity, to allow the power of opera today to unfurl its full relevance and topicality. And we will form partnerships with other cultural institutions such as theatres, museums and orchestras, which turn Munich’s cultural fabric and structure into a truly exceptional network, because opera today is a reflection of our society more than ever, a place of entertainment and contemplation, of exchange and examination – opera that speaks to the heart and the intellect and transcends the everyday.

“Every person is a masterpiece. In their eyes the sorrow and yearning to be loved. In their heart experiences and memories, as in yours. And on their head the skullcap, like a royal crown. Each of us a king.” Dezső Kosztolányi

Along with our revivals, the opera season also brings new productions dedicated to this “majestic masterpiece”: The person, who walks. The person, who is on the way. The person, who wanders. The person, who seeks. The person faced by nature. One individual against many. The person, who struggles. The naked person.

Like a clear thread, the loving, longing and unsettled person runs through the works in a cycle dedicated to Richard Strauss, which will conclude the 2022 Opera Festival: Die schweigsame Frau, Die Frau ohne Schatten, Der Rosenkavalier, Capriccio. The woman and the man, caught in the cycle of time, “a strange thing”, time, which passes and can scarcely be recovered, lost time, gone forever – time, which is also the bridge, connecting the living and the dead, like the night watchmen sing at the end of the first act of Die Frau ohne Schatten. Who better to evoke this sweet and tragic melancholy of time than Richard Strauss, right into the twilight of his life?

And finally the individual is there, “the weakest reed of nature”, as Blaise Pascal writes, who bends and sometimes breaks, but at the same time thinks and acts, at the centre of a new festival, which with the trilogy by Georg Friedrich Haas and Händl Klaus celebrates the opera of today: Thomas, Bluthaus, Koma. These pieces are connected with compositions by Claudio Monteverdi. Different ages conjoin and show how modernity, inventiveness and ingenuity are present in all times.

With the Academy Concerts, Vladimir Jurowski and the musicians of the Bayerische Staatsorchester intensify their musical relationship to achieve the alchemy that creates an osmosis between a conductor and an orchestra, and which weaves a musical and tonal identity. In this season they offer us a repertoire that resonates with operas that will be staged anew in 2021/2022 – the highly entertaining and rarely heard works of the young Dmitri Shostakovich ring out, pieces by composer Benjamin Britten from his Peter Grimes period and Krzysztof Penderecki’s symphonic creativity are also honoured. A generous helping of chamber concerts complements the Staatsoper’s instrumental range, while the lieder recitals allow us to rediscover the house’s spectacular performers and artists in the intimacy and intensity of the song and the melody.

That the person is both king/queen and slave of their own transformation ability, is topicalised in both classical and contemporary ballet. Under Igor Zelensky’s direction, the coming season will present numerous productions in which the Bayerisches Staatsballett’s dancers represent figures of transition. In one instance, for example, this includes Cinderella’s famous transformation into the belle of the ball. In another, the Passagen triple bill ballet performance combines choreographies in which the ensemble focuses on the individual’s ability to seek, struggle and cross boundaries.

Yours,

Serge Dorny