With his Flying Dutchman Richard Wagner created the incarnation of the outsider in opera. The solitary figure of the “doomed man of the seas” appears on stage and in less than ten minutes Wagner has managed to present us with all the conflicting feelings associated with the Dutchman’s life as an outsider: loneliness and alienation, despair and hatred, but also hope, defiance and even pride.
Opera has repeatedly explored the theme of outsider-ness in all its aspects and given the condition a voice: from the Medea of baroque opera and Verdi’s Rigoletto to Berg’s Wozzeck and Britten’s Peter Grimes, opera has adopted the position of protagonists who, as well as being marginalized, often feel an uneasy alienation within their very selves.
This outsider existence is fully apparent in four of our new productions this season. Aside from THE FLYING DUTCHMAN we also present EDWARD II, the new opera by Swiss composer Andrea Lorenzo Scartazzini based on Christopher Marlowe’s tragedy about the allegedly homosexual English king, Benjamin Britten’s last opera, DEATH IN VENICE, after Thomas Mann’s novella, and Giacomo Meyerbeer’s LES HUGUENOTS, in which an entire section of the population is pigeonholed as beyond the pale on account of religious differences.
Is it not the case, though, that the four young people at the centre of Mozart’s and Lorenzo da Ponte’s operatic experiment COSI FAN TUTTE are also subjected to an alienation process that puts increasing distance between them and their community? And can it not be said that feelings of guilt and the much-vaunted “loneliness at the top” trigger a similar process of marginalisation in Mussorgsky’s Boris Gudonov? And is fashion czar Gianni Versace, the subject of our first major new production in the Tischlerei this season, not perhaps another of these outsiders trapped in a gilded cage?
These questions are not so much challenges to the production teams as an invitation to you to view our upcoming offerings of musical theatre through this prism, just as last season’s focus lay on the presentation of political processes.
And just as the world of politics is always on the look-out for new symbols, the characteristics associated with people existing on the fringe of society are always changing, mirroring the shifting fault lines along which the chasms separating individual from crowd open up. Which is why we have chosen to engage directors who we believe are particularly sympathetic to the topicality of their respective material. You will already be familiar with Christof Loy, Graham Vick, David Alden and Christian Spuck following their riveting productions at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. In addition, we have enlisted the services of Richard Jones from Britain and the young theatre director Robert Borgmann, who will be mounting his first work of opera on our premises.
In the pictures of Japanese artist Satoshi Fujiwara we have discerned the ability, shared by the creators of fine musical theatre, to present a magnified view of the individual, almost as though he were sitting amongst us. Fujiwara’s artfully composed but deceptively naturalistic close-up images will adorn the Deutsche Oper Berlin this season and a number of them also appear in this preview. The photos of people in the S-Bahn in extreme close-up make them appear disturbingly alien, yet at the same time we can sense that this suggestion of foreignness is not due to any substantive difference but solely down to the unusual camera perspective.
In addition to the aforementioned works, audiences this season can expect the usual panoply of material reflecting the vibrant world of musical theatre. It includes our repertoire of 28 productions on the main stage, our packed Young Opera programme aimed at children and teenagers, our premiered works in the Tischlerei, our chamber and symphony concerts, lieder evenings, the grand opening gala and much more besides.
We look forward to seeing you at the Deutsche Oper Berlin!