Under den Linden for the opera experience: Berlin Staatsoper presents its season 2023/2024

Author Yulia Savikovskaya
Category Culture, Lifestyle, Без категории
Date November 9 2023
Reading Time 3 min.

Under den Linden for the opera experience: Berlin Staatsoper presents its season 2023/2024

Staatsoper in Berlin is one of the most famous and influential opera houses in the world, and if you are in Berlin this autumn or winter, or even later during the rest of the year 2024, please make sure not to miss the visit to one of the exciting premieres or revivals it has to offer. Conveniently located in Stadtmitte (historic city centre) on Unter den Linden boulevard, the Opera house in Berlin was initially constructed under Prussian king Frederick the Great in 1741-1743 in Palladian style by the architect Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff and rebuilt after the WWII in 1951-1955. It has changed its names in the history of its operatic existence from the Royal Opera to Prussian State Opera and then to German State Opera in the years when it served as the opera house for East Germany. From the 1990s its official name is Staatsoper Unter den Linden (State Opera Unter den Linden)

Don Carlo.© Bernd Uhlig/ Staatsoper Berlin

The season 2023/2024 started on September 10 with the revival of Verdi’s Don Carlo in 2004 directed by Philipp Himmelmann, with set design by Johannes Leiacker, costumes by Klaus Bruns and light by Davy Cunningham. A production that seems to be both conservative and modern, as the repressed violence is felt in this totalitarian (not exactly Spanish) kingdom governed by Philipp II, the King of Spain performed by the long-term (since 1988) Staatsoper soloist, the famous German bass René Pape. The singers are dressed in modern clothes, and the Princess Eboli sung by mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Gubanova lacks any feminine characteristics, but is rather a political fighter in erotic disguise, as she appears in a skirt and white shirt and both oppresses and seduces her court and especially the non-experienced Tebaldo Regina Koncz. Though the whole production is too conventional for my taste, it boasts very striking visual imagery: when the heretics are hung upside down and shoot up in this morbid position to the ceiling. This kingdom is indeed full of horrors and they continue to abound as the opera progresses. With the heretics being not plaster dolls, but real Berlin opera artists, the image from the closing scenes of the first half stays in our memories forever.

DIE WALKÜRE © Monika Rittershaus/Staatsoper Berlin

The season 2023/2024 in Berlin promises to definitely be worth a visit, and one could start with attending Baroktage (Baroque Days) in November 17-26 that will be centred around the Greek Medea in different versions by various composers. The most awaited premiere is Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Médée on November 19, the late 17th century ‘tragedy in music’ conducted by the chief conductor of Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra Simon Rattle (he previously had been a leader of London Symphony Orchestra) and directed by Peter Sellars,who is working on his first opera at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden. The stage design is by the world-famous American architect Frank O. Gehry, the author of Bilbao Modern Art Museum and Louis Vuitton Foundation building in Paris, as well as the Walt Disney concert Hall in Los Angeles. The premiere of Charpentier’s version of the mythical character and story will be juxtaposed with Luigi Cherubini’s Medea, directed by Andrea Breth, conducted by Christophe Rousset, performed for the first time by the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin.

SLEEPLESS © Gianmarco Bresadola/ Staatsoper Berlin

Another exciting time one could fix for visiting Berlin is in February 2024 when renowned Hungarian theatre director Kornél Mundruczó returns to the Staatsoper after his production of Eötvösʼ Sleepless. The new production is conducted by Robin Ticciati, and Christiane Karg makes her debut in the title role. Then one should return for Easter later in spring, as from March 18 to April 1, 2024 the State Opera will have its Festtage (Easter Festival) and will revive its astounding production of the famous Der Ring des Nibelungen tetralogy by Richard Wagner directed by Dmitri Tcherniakov and conducted for the first time by Philippe Jordan, complemented by concerts with the Staatskapelle Berlin and the Opera Children’s Orchestra.

DAS RHEINGOLD (TCHERNIAKOV) ©Monika Rittershaus/Staatsoper Berlin

It is definitely a must-see: while other opera houses have had to abandon the similar Ring projects or make them in a different order and not in their entirety (in Paris they did it in concerts, in Helsinki they staged one in a year and will not show the whole Ring, London has started with Das Rheingold this year), Berlin Staatsoper has managed to bring on the stage the whole cycle. In this very inventive production Tcherniakov makes us believe we are in a research centre where Alberich is experimented on. Attached to machines and observed by numerous doctors, Alberich is subjected to an experiment, but frees himself and ruins the laboratory – from then on the decline of the gods (and here they are audacious people who think they can order others around, and not Gods) starts.

Claus Guth. © Monika Rittershaus/ Staatsoper Berlin

And later on in June 2024 Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina will have its premiere directed by Claus Guth and conducted by Simone Young. Claus Guth, as a director interested in a contoured drawing of the characters in their respective lives, will take on Mussorgsky’s unfinished stage work that, rather than recreating the history of the late 17th century with its upheavals and struggles of different groups for power, tries to have a tableau of life, love and struggle for power that looks very modern, despite its plot. The version of Mussorgsky’s opera used in this production was created by Dmitri Shostakovich, with the finale written by Igor Stravinsky. Such incredible singers as Najmiddin Mavlyanov singing Andrey Khovansky and Marina Prudenskaya appearing as Marfa are definitely worth seeing in it. So, why not taste the riches offered by one of the best European opera houses and improve your German on this short high-brow cultural trip? I am definitely up to it and hope you are.