Reigen

Opera Stuttgart: Composer Philippe Boesmans and director Luc Bondy developed the Reigen into an opera in 1993. In Stuttgart Nico and the Navigators have now created their own version of this circular dance.

[…] Fortunately, the turnaround worked out for Stuttgart, because it made it possible in the successful 2015/16 season – with six new productions this time – to engage four guest directors, three of whom – Kirill Serebrennikov, Christoph Marthaler and Nicola Hümpel – were working at the house for the first time. That this does not have to mean a fundamental departure from the ideal of the workshop idea was demonstrated by the range of the very different aesthetics, which represented an enriching challenge for both the audience and the critics, while maintaining the same high intellectual standards. […]
Nicola Hümpel, who took over the direction of Philippe Boesmans’ setting of Arthur Schnitzler’s “Reigen” for the originally scheduled Susanne Kennedy, proved to be similarly unmasking in her view of eroticism as irritatingly original in her handling of video technology. She, too, refuses the voyeuristic gaze by confronting the play on stage and its video, recorded with the live cam and projected large on the back wall. In doing so, she does not simply double what one sees anyway, but at the same time stages the close-ups of the faces in a new and different way. In this way, she forces the viewer to watch the action twice and to question his or her own gaze in the process. In the Stuttgart ensemble she found the alert, willing performers who celebrate this duplication and ironic commentary with relish – with Matthias Klink once again shining alongside the young Kora Pavelic, just emancipated from the opera studio. If the evening nevertheless seems slightly stale in the memory, this is not due to the staging, but solely to the second-hand music, operatic in the bad sense, which rarely hits the depth of field, even more rarely the wicked wit of the couples talking past each other in the love dialogue. […]

Uwe Schweikert / Opernwelt

Reigen

 

Ten terribly banal conversations before and after sex. Ever-present is a fear the experience might not be unique: Have you been here with anyone else? You remind me of someone. – So? Whom do I remind you of? Have there been any women here before me?

The Reigen consists of ten more or less erotic encounters between men and women. Like a circular dance, Dirne and a soldier meet intimately, then the soldier and a house-maid, the house-maid with a young man, ending with a Count and Dirne. Despite differing social status all shockingly exhibit the same motifs and repetitive behavioral patterns: one endears, one is in a rush, one doesn’t actually do this. And ‘afterwards’ suddenly it’s the other who is in a hurry, becomes gruff or slips away with insignificant babblings. It always comes to sex but rarely to encounters.

After its premiere in 1897, it was Arthur Schnitzler himself who invoked the performance-ban of his ten dialogs lasting until 1982. The play was developed into an opera by the Belgian composer Philippe Boesmans and director Luc Bondy in 1993. The artfully orchestrated music contributes much wit to the original – or did you know that mosquitos also practice an erotic Reigen?

 

Coproduction by Stuttgart Opera and Nico and the Navigators.

Dates

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Press reviews

Werner M. Grimmel / Schwäbische Zeitung

Nicola Hümpel’s Stutttgart performance was a finely interwoven staging of set design, live video (Judith Konnerth) and recorded film sequences… Oliver Proske’s fascinating and subtly elaborate spaces in tandem with the quirky costumes by Teresa Vergho create a tableau that is delightful and perpetually transforming… Balancing existential gravity, grotesque estrangement and a good sense of humor while staying true to the wonderful music of Boesmans.

Werner M. Grimmel / Schwäbische Zeitung

There was rapturous applause for all the performers after the premiere of Philippe Boesmans' "Reigen" at the Stuttgart State Opera. Just under a month before the Belgian composer's 80th birthday, the music theater work based on Arthur Schnitzler's scandalous play can now be experienced in Stuttgart for the first time. The musical director is Sylvain Cambreling, as he was at the premiere in Brussels in 1993. The Stuttgart production by Nicola Hümpel relies on a sophisticated interlocking of stage action, live video (Judith Konnerth) and supplementary film sequences, which Hümpel and Konnerth pre-produced with the performers Julia von Landsberg and Michel Shapira from the Berlin music theater company Nico and the Navigators. Combined with Oliver Proskes' fascinating, subtly sophisticated spaces and Teresa Vergho's quirky costumes, the result is a spectacular, ever-changing visual. At the beginning, all ten protagonists of this partner-swapping parable enter the scene silently, line up, sniff and grope each other, each revealing personal idiosyncrasies and uptightness. They are still blank slates for the audience. Scene by scene we get to know one after the other in changing man-woman combinations. In the following situation, one figure is already familiar, the other not yet. And each new confrontation reveals further, sometimes revealing sides even to the personalities already introduced. The Swiss director Luc Bondy has distilled the dialogues for Boesman's opera from Schnitzler's drama with a fine sense for the requirements of a setting and a lot of wordplay. Rarely does one encounter such an intelligent libretto. Opulent music There is flattery, ostentation and lies that bend the beam. Banalities meet groundless rhetoric, seductive hints meet self-pity, sex lust meets longing for love. Most of the time, people avoid questions, talk past each other, live in different worlds and are more interested in themselves than in the other person. Small changes in individual words twist the meaning, social differences come to light. But for all the unmasking of the characters, no one is exposed to ridicule. This offers a lot of scope for the music. Boesman has used it. In both the vocal and orchestral realms, he gives the monkey sugar. From the pit it sounds opulent, richly colored and rhythmically gripping, also humorous or melancholic. The brilliantly orchestrated score shines a differentiated light into the soul life of the characters. It allows itself sublime adaptations of tonal idioms up to fairground sounds. The singing relies on luscious cantilenas and the best text comprehensibility. Cambreling proves to be a sensitive advocate of these plump, effective, eminently theatrical sound spaces. Lauryna Bendziunaite (Dirne), Daniel Kluge (Soldat), Stine Marie Fischer (Stubenmädchen), Sebastian Kohlhepp (junger Herr) and Kora Pavelic (süßes Mädel) sing and play magnificently. Rebecca von Lipinsky (young wife), Shigeo Ishino (husband), and Matthias Klink (poet) are especially impressive. Melanie Diener is a stunner as the hysterically vain singer, as is André Morsch as the neurotic Count. All in all, this production is a hit in every respect. In Hümpel's imaginative staging, Sigmund Freud's Vienna meets the cyber-present. Artfully constructed constrictions of scene and video create multiple perspectives. Character direction and facial expressions are meticulously rehearsed. The revolving stage with passing partitions serves as a counterpart to the round dance of pairings. On the verge between existential seriousness, grotesque alienation and fine comedy, everything remains close to Boesman's wonderful music.

Mirko Weber / Stuttgarter Zeitung

Schnitzler’s pessimistic “Reigen”, ironized by Luc Bondy and Philippe Boesmans and most recently explored with a light and unconceited touch by Nicola Hümpel, ends not only in cold desires, isolation and despair but with a quiet circling, warmth and emotion. Being propelled, possibly, by love.

Mirko Weber / Stuttgarter Zeitung

In the intelligent new Stuttgart production of Philippe Boesman's "Reigen," based on Arthur Schnitzler and Luc Bondy, director Nicola Hümpel shows that she has a light hand, a lot of feeling and a sharp mind. In the theater, five minutes is a long time when no one says anything and, in the opera, even the musicians sit silently by. In Stuttgart's Großes Haus, however, the production of Philipp Boesmans' musical theater piece "Reigen" gets off to a fabulous start, and the silent prelude does not last a second. Under a suspended roof, ten actors are rehearsing a first performance for the following scenes. Man and woman, woman and man. They eye each other, move around, sniff each other out. After all, there's truth in the saying that at some point people can no longer smell each other. But that will be later. For the moment, the hour strikes them all here, in which they know nothing of each other: the strumpet nothing of the soldier, Mrs. Emma nothing of the young gentleman and the poet Robert nothing of the singer, who is still an actress with Doctor Arthur Schnitzler, who writes the "Reigen" in 1896. Two years after the play is finally premiered in Berlin in 1920 (and immediately banned), Sigmund Freud, who previously had not always had only sympathy for Schnitzler's theatrical mission and soul work, writes: "Her being seized by the drive nature of man, her decomposition of cultural-conventional certainties, the adherence of her thoughts to the polarity of love and death, all this touches me with an uncanny familiarity." No wonder, then, that one of the greatest psychoanalysts in the theater, director Luc Bondy, who died last year, took the original and made it slightly comedic-boulevardesque at the Brussels Opera nearly a quarter-century ago, looking for the joke where you'd least expect it: post-coital, when humans as animals are supposed to be sad throughout. Bondy thought it was hilarious, too, and so did the composer Philippe Boesmans, then already long promoted by musical theater innovator Gerard Mortier and hailing from near Liège, who delivered a curiously spun, quote-rich, masterfully crafted score that was replayed from Frankfurt to Amsterdam. In the theater, five minutes is a long time when no one says anything and, in opera, even the musicians sit silently by. In Stuttgart's Großes Haus, however, the production of Philipp Boesmans' music theater piece "Reigen" gets off to a fabulous start, and the silent prelude does not last a second. Under a suspended roof, ten actors are rehearsing a first performance for the following scenes. Man and woman, woman and man. They eye each other, move around, sniff each other out. After all, there's truth in the saying that at some point people can no longer smell each other. But that will be later. For the moment, the hour strikes them all here, in which they know nothing of each other: the strumpet nothing of the soldier, Mrs. Emma nothing of the young gentleman and the poet Robert nothing of the singer, who is still an actress with Doctor Arthur Schnitzler, who writes the "Reigen" in 1896. Two years after the play is finally premiered in Berlin in 1920 (and immediately banned), Sigmund Freud, who previously had not always had only sympathy for Schnitzler's theatrical mission and soul work, writes: "Her being seized by the drive nature of man, her decomposition of cultural-conventional certainties, the adherence of her thoughts to the polarity of love and death, all this touches me with an uncanny familiarity." No wonder, then, that one of the greatest psychoanalysts in the theater, director Luc Bondy, who died last year, took the original and made it slightly comedic-boulevardesque at the Brussels Opera nearly a quarter-century ago, looking for the joke where you'd least expect it: post-coital, when humans as animals are supposed to be sad throughout. Bondy also found it hilarious, and so did the composer Philippe Boesmans, who at that time had already been promoted for some time by the musical theater innovator Gerard Mortier and who came from near Liège, and who delivered a curiously spun, quote-rich, masterfully crafted score that was replayed from Frankfurt to Amsterdam.

Judith von Sternburg / Frankfurter Rundschau

Boesmans wrote music for the duration of the “act”… Nicola Hümpel resolves this exceptionally. People sink into mattresses, slip from automated beds and are extraordinarily devoured by each other. On a screen, and at long last the most coherent and unapologetic use of video on stage, are close-ups of their faces. One might catch a glimpse of pure horror, the temporary insanity of lovemaking or the repulsiveness of greed…

Judith von Sternburg / Frankfurter Rundschau

Even the temporary stupefaction that the act of love entails: Stuttgart Opera prepares a smart performance for Philippe Boesmans' epicurean Schnitzler opera "Reigen". The scandal caused by the premiere of Arthur Schnitzler's "Reigen" 96 years ago is no longer imaginable. However, giggling accompanies promiscuous events across social classes to this day and is also a sign of embarrassment. The Belgian composer Philippe Boesmans also wrote music for the time between the before and the after, which is what Schnitzler is about. He gives directors the opportunity and the task to show one sex scene after the other, to put it bluntly. In Stuttgart, director Nicola Hümpel solves this problem with great affection. People sink into mattresses, slip off the self-acting bed, devour each other extraordinarily, handle phallically deformed sofa cushions as if by chance, roll around in a mud bath, and they actually chew on a Vienna sausage. Man does what he can, but in the end it is not enough. On a video screen, a video screen finally used sensibly and unashamedly, one sees the faces in close-up. Naked horror can be seen reflected on them, the temporary stupor that the act of love brings, the ugliness of greed. The music echoes itself and others To this the music rustles, chirps, jingles and echoes itself and others. The former in a web of motifs that seem to waft from one scene to the next. The second in a high incidence of quotation, directly - the "Salome" verbiage "Man kill this mosquito" - and indirectly through Wagner or Bach imitations. The characters, erotically animated, are pathetically high-pitched in the manner of 1920, and more recent avant-garde is in any case not the theme when Boesmans comes on the scene. Instead, it shows how the relatively tonal opera could have a future beyond the already known with the (in Stuttgart after a good three hours enthusiastic) audience. Debussyian impressionism and Richard Strauss' intoxicants are extended into the present day and enriched with impertinence (which was already not alien to Strauss). The effect is immediate and original, even if epigonal things are hidden in it and not at all. Colorful and noble, the Staatsorchester Stuttgart rolls out Boesman's epicurean music under the baton of Sylvain Cambreling, who conducted the premiere in Brussels in 1993. Luc Bondy is no longer alive, the librettist who spiced up Schnitzler's text and certainly had no intention of deepening it or making it more thoroughly spiritual. But composer Boesmans arrived, and colleagues claim to have seen tears of emotion in his eyes. Few new operas have another opportunity to show off 23 years after their premiere. Hümpel's concept is unconditionally comedic, but even the silliest is well done. What is the silliest? Perhaps the, uh, foam rubber molded, slowly extending penises? The tailor-made already shows the perfect stage design by Oliver Proske. The furniture for the respective scene, which just misses the probable, comes in on a revolving stage, between room dividers with funny wallpaper, between which beds, tables, people fit through by means of precisely sawn-out holes. Or not, in which case the floor lamp slowly falls over as the stage rolls on, just as the man is not granted stability in every situation. Five female and five male soloists do wonderfully well vocally with their uncluttered but substantial performances and are also very much challenged acting-wise: Lauryna Bendziunaite (a fine strumpet) and Daniel Kluge (a compact soldier), Stine Marie Fischer (a resolute parlor maid) and Sebastian Kohlhepp (a drippy young gentleman), Rebecca von Lipinski and Shigeo Ishino (a hilarious married couple), Kora Pavelic (an extremely goal-oriented sweet girl) and Matthias Klink (a poet aptly unifying narcissism and self-irony), Melanie Diener (a diva in sound and movement) and André Morsch (a Helge Schneider-like count). That the actors on stage are juxtaposed in their human inadequacy with a tender on-screen love couple (Julia von Landsberg and Michael Shapira) is not compelling, but neither is it ludicrous. That Hümpel gets a kick out of using prop repetition to suggest other lovers besides the ones shown is just as fine. Variety is the motto of the evening, nightmares are there. But the dark sides of desire, profiteering, exploitation have no place here, not with Bondy, not with Boesmans, not with Hümpel.

Georg Rudiger / Die Deutsche Bühne

… an accessible, open, repetitive and also ironic music, switching almost immediately between pathos and the laconic… Hümpel expands the musical irony scenically lending the highly anticipated premiere an air of lightness… This music theater production is artisanship at its best while precision reigned supreme in the orchestra pit.

Georg Rudiger / Die Deutsche Bühne

Arthur Schnitzler's comedy "Reigen," which premiered in Berlin in 1920 and describes ten sexual encounters between a man and a woman, has long ceased to be a scandalous play. Sex outside of marriage has long since ceased to be an outrage in Germany; it is now socially normal. Nevertheless, Schnitzler's sobering view of love has lost none of its relevance in the age of online dating. This can be experienced at the Stuttgart Opera House, where now 23 years after its Brussels premiere Philippe Boesman's opera of the same name (libretto: Luc Bondy) had its premiere on the occasion of the Belgian composer's 80th birthday. On the podium of the Stuttgart State Orchestra, as at the premiere, is Sylvain Cambreling. The Frenchman has a good hand for his accessible, light, always ironic music, which switches between pathos and laconism at lightning speed. And it develops a delightful sense of humor, for example, when the ex-lover calls during the meeting of the count and the singer in the ninth scene, and his distorted telephone voice is imitated by a muffled trombone. Director Nicola Hümpel of the Berlin musical theater ensemble "Nico and the Navigators" also picks up on this musical irony scenically, which lends a lightness to the acclaimed premiere evening and provokes loud laughter in the audience on several occasions. The fact that, in addition to the revolving stage, some things go round in circles musically and that one or the other scene has lengths is due to the original. This musical theater production is perfectly crafted. And there is also precision in the orchestra pit. Oliver Proske has designed an initially empty stage space for the "Reigen", which is gradually filled with props and walls. The revolving stage creates flowing transitions. The individual scenes leave traces. A pink string appears again and again like a memory. In the last scene, when the count meets the strumpet who had opened the love round with the soldier, there are also a sock, cans and shoes from earlier encounters (costumes: Teresa Vergho). And correspond with past musical motifs, which are also heard again here. In addition to the ten protagonists, who are all on stage at the beginning and are already sniffing each other, an additional dance couple, Julla von Landsberg and Michael Shapira, can be seen again and again via video; they translate the different variations of the encounter into touching choreographies. In addition, there are two live cameras that capture the couples' facial expressions (video: Judith Konnerth/Nicola Hümpel). This idea is brilliantly realized during the cybersex on the laptop between the vain poet (Matthias Klink) and the sweet girl (Kora Pavelic), when the excited, post climax moronic facial features of one are juxtaposed on the screen with the skeptical, completely uninvolved gaze of the other. After the sex dates, one more selfie is taken before it is wiped away as if on a smartphone. The next partner can come. The Stuttgart production is grandiose ensemble theater. Eight of the ten musically and dramatically present actors are members of the house. Guests Melanie Diener as a diva-like, highly dramatic singer and mezzo-soprano Kora Pavelic fit seamlessly into this round dance. Arthur Schnitzler only hinted at the actual sexual act in the text with three dots. Boesman's three-hour opera fills this void with often quite lyrical, floating music that nevertheless leaves the characters with emotions. One can almost believe in the love between the young wife (Rebecca von Lipinski) and the husband (Shigeo Ishino), before the wife makes herself suspicious when she addresses him with the wrong first name after the marriage has been consummated. The meeting between the young man in safari shirt and shorts (Sebastian Kohlhepp) and the parlor maid (Stine Marie Fischer) also has pitfalls, in which the buzzing mosquitoes, represented by string tremolos played on the bridge, develop more energy than the limp lovers. In the next scene, Kohlhepp finds himself in a loriotesque seating arrangement, struggling with foam cushions to find the right position and an adequate erection. When the knotted cushion finally rises and the trumpets blare the chorale "Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan" to it, the brief happiness is perfect before the next love disaster looms.

Mirko Weber / Stuttgarter Nachrichten

The work seems like a flash of brilliance envisioned by Nicola Hümpel who has enriched our scene through remarkable changes in the angles of perception, humor, finesse and a focus on the aesthetically influential use of video.

Mirko Weber / Stuttgarter Nachrichten

In the presence of the Belgian composer Philippe Boesmans, the Stuttgart State Opera performed his music theater work "Reigen" about messed-up relationship boxes as a tragicomedy. A great evening. Stuttgart - Contemporary operas, once premiered, rarely catch on at other opera houses. Exceptions, as always, prove the rule, and one of these exceptions, intelligently interpreted, is Philippe Boesman's version of "Reigen" after Doctor Arthur Schnitzler, whose historically disturbing theatrical text from the beginning of the twentieth century was contemporarily arranged by director Luc Bondy 23 years ago in Brussels. However, 23 years is also a long time, but now in Stuttgart it doesn't matter at all. In the reading of director Nicola Hümpel, who enlivens the scene with impressive changes of perspective, wit, feeling and not only incidental, but aesthetically formative video work, the work appears as if it were new. From B for Bendziunaite to P for Pavelic, this is all highly thought-out opera theater, musically sounded out in detail by conductor Sylvain Cambreling with the Stuttgart State Orchestra. At the final "Servus!" in the tenth picture, one is pleased to think that the farewell here also always means a beginning. One would like to see/hear it again. Great evening, best atmosphere.

Jürgen Kanold / Südwest Presse Ulm

Now, finally at the Stuttgarter Opernhaus this ‘Reigen’ can be experienced, discovered…

Jürgen Kanold / Südwest Presse Ulm

Sex on the opera stage? That's where it often gets stuck with these people. But Philippe Boesmans' music is potent. The "Reigen" is acclaimed in Stuttgart. The harlot has sex with the soldier. And he with the parlor maid Mizzi, who then does it with the young gentleman, who then dates the young woman in the hotel, who later lies in the marriage bed with her husband Gottfried. The husband meets the sweet girl, the latter meets the inhibited poet, the latter meets the actress. Then the actress also has a rendezvous with the count - who is drunk with the harlot. The "round dance" comes to a close. Arthur Schnitzler wrote the famous play still in Danube monarchic Vienna, at the end of the 19th century, it is about seduction and vulnerability, about desire and weariness, about longing and disappointment, but more about the biological "mechanics" and less about an erotic encounter, more about frustration than about love and happy satisfaction. And all this up and down the social strata. That's the finding: sex happens, but then escape happens quickly. This "Reigen" was considered scandalous and unperformable for a long time, then came on stage in 1920 at the Kleines Schauspielhaus Berlin of Gertrud Eysoldt, a criminal trial followed, and the unnerved Schnitzler forbade by copyright all further performances from 1922 on, which was valid until 1982. So - but now let's imagine that the "Reigen" had become a real long-running hit in the 1920s and that a composer Alban Berg, fascinated by it, had not only composed Büchner's "Wozzeck", but had also cheekily and humorously created a comic Schnitzler opera, that is, at least a tragicomic one: with the tonal language of an atonal-melodic Viennese school, but also with ironic quotations from half of music history and a good portion of expressionist zeitgeist of the Franz Schreker brand. No, Alban Berg did not do that, nor did any of his colleagues from that time. But the opera still exists, only it was composed in this form by the Belgian Philippe Boesmans on a libretto by Luc Bondy and premiered in Brussels in 1993. Now this "Reigen" can finally be experienced and discovered at the Stuttgart Opera House. A delayed classic of the modern age, so to speak. Boesmans is a gifted theater musician, he can illustrate, he is lyrical and he has wit: the nervous young gentleman curses not the woman, but in the same "Salome" tone of Herod, the insects buzzing around him: "Kill this mosquito!" The orchestra then celebrates the long-awaited success of the erectile young lord with the chorale "Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan" and baroque triumphant trumpets. That's quite a bit of opera: superbly played by the Staatsorchester under the baton of Sylvain Cambreling. He was already the premiere conductor, played the work also in his time as Frankfurt opera director and knows every nuance, every mood, every effect. It was a very tonally plastic, pointed premiere. Great applause - also for the bowing, very touched 79-year-old composer Boesmans. The Stuttgart ensemble was in excellent form: among them Rebecca von Lipinski as the young woman, Kora Pavelic as the wonderfully bug-eyed, naive sweet girl, and Matthias Klink as the grotesquely libidinous poet. And Melanie Diener emphatically gives the prima donna - in opera, the actress is a singer who at least rehearses coloratura with relish. The actors' grimace play provides for laughs. Thanks to virtuoso video art, the audience can be close to the action in this co-production of the Stuttgart Opera with "Nico and the Navigators" from Berlin. Director Nicola Hümpel and her team present the "Reigen" stylishly designed and also a bit trashy spiced up in the cell phone age. Not a shocker production, not opera porn, but a serious game of lust. And after each scene, a character has to leave the scene: one last snapshot, then a hand wipes the picture away smartphone-like. A pair of dancers, a man and a woman as a romantic counter-image of real erotic togetherness, is also inserted by video: whenever the real actors get tangled up in their inability to love. Gladly also on treacherous furniture, on rocking sofa seesaws or the disintegrating marriage bed. The furniture travels on the revolving stage through the walls of various rooms - a very own round dance. Everything hollow, surreal. Like the love rituals.

Michael Stallknecht / Süddeutsche Zeitung

While engaging herself extensively with the atmosphere of the musical score Hümpel is also in search for levity. To which the playfully absurd furniture on stage lends its support… Set designer Oliver Proske has the scenes follow one another fluidly instead of forcing each into its own singularity. Contemporary opera as a crowd pleaser, what a joy.

Michael Stallknecht / Süddeutsche Zeitung

Once again, the artists are the most perverse. After the singer and the poet have splashed themselves with a dark mass in a huge bathtub, they discuss the difference between old-fashioned opera and modern repertoire. Most likely, composer Philippe Boesmans is also ironizing himself with this in his opera "Reigen." For Boesmans' operas follow the classical model of literary opera, for which he mainly adapts plays of the early modern period, preferably those that delve into the abysses of human sexuality. Success has proven him right; for a contemporary composer, Boesmans is re-enacted quite often. On the occasion of his eightieth birthday, which is due on May 17, the Stuttgart Opera has included "Reigen," which premiered in Brussels in 1993 and is based on Arthur Schnitzler's famous, and still semi-infamous, play. The theater director Luc Bondy, who died last November, had reworked it into a libretto, leaving the basic structure untouched: In ten scenes, two people meet in ascending social stratification. Although the linguistic codes become more and more complicated, the scenes always end up with one thing: probably the most famous hyphens in world literature. Boesmans translates them into the voices of a couple singing from offstage, vocally entwining in verses from the biblical Song of Songs. In the introduction to "Rosenkavalier" - written only a few years after the "Reigen" - Richard Strauss had already been much more violent in the matter of sexual contrast. Otherwise, however, Strauss could be considered a stylistic model. Boesmans, too, treats erotic desire as a light-handed game that becomes a self-referential one about music. He ironically quotes his way through half of music history. Even in the permanent acoustic presence of the third as the best-hated interval of modernity, there is a piece of coquetry. In Boesmans' work, the characters come from the most diverse musical worlds, which partly compensates for Schnitzler's linguistic differentiation, which falls victim to the red pen or the genre of opera. Thus the young gentleman (Sebastian Kohlhepp) rests on broad string chords, while the parlor maid (Stine Maria Fischer) brings swing into his house. The authoritarian lines of the mendacious husband (Shigeo Ishino) are supported only by a few orchestral interjections, while his wife (Rebecca von Lipinksi) is clearly marked by the hysteria that was customary in Schnitzler's time. Advertisement But the eclecticism of the means also ensures that the score lacks its own face in the long run. The composition does not register a formal counterweight against the scene. In the classical orchestral apparatus, the violins too often win out in the end. In any case, it is not the fault of conductor Sylvain Cambreling. The Stuttgart General Music Director, who had already conducted the Brussels premiere, illuminates the score with the Stuttgart State Orchestra with maximum tonal sensuality. In return, Boesmans actually masters what many contemporary composers find difficult: he can write for voices, which the singers thank him for with an impressive ensemble performance. There the Dirne (Lauryna Bendžiūnaitė) entices in cooing coloratura, while the Soldat (Daniel Kluge) recites rather straightforwardly. There the singer (Melanie Diener) indulges in the great lines of the high dramatic, while the count (André Morsch) may illustrate his barren pedigree with excursions into falsetto. That they also have an individual effect in terms of body language was ensured by director Nicola Hümpel in improvisationally guided studies with the singers. The head of the co-producing Berlin theater troupe "Nico and the Navigator", like her costume designer Teresa Vergho, finds fine forms to tell social layers in the present. Here, everyone has their own sex. Some make foam pads swell, others pull on Vienna sausages, the third just press their hands together intensively. Fortunately, there is only one thing that none of the couples do: undress and perform the theatrical sex simulations. Instead, Hümpel gets intensely involved in the atmosphere of the score and also searches for lightness. The slightly insane plastic furniture, already known from "Nico and the Navigator", contributes to this. Set designer Oliver Proske does not force the scenes into a uniform stage design, but allows the spaces to playfully emerge from one another. On a screen in the background, video projects (Judith Konnerth) sufficiently unobtrusively reinforce the singers' facial expressions. This may seem a bit harmless at times, but it is never pregnant with meaning. Contemporary opera as audience success, how nice.

Marco Frei / Neue Zürcher Zeitung

In her latest staging Nicola Hümpel makes use of strong associations … Schnitzler’s vision of a complete estrangement through our digital selves and societies collective isolation seems to have been fulfilled. Hümpel’s diagnosis is developed into a chamber play – which overpowers, since it’s the characters uttermost intimacy that she’s after… Befitting is the stage by Oliver Proske whose foremost priority is the self-presentation by the characters’ becoming reminiscent of a cabinet of…

Marco Frei / Neue Zürcher Zeitung

There are surprising cross-references between Bernhard Lang's opera "Der Golem," premiered in Mannheim, and the new Stuttgart production of Philippe Boesmans' "Reigen" after Arthur Schnitzler. They poke frantically at their smartphones. Video inserts reflect their faces. Soon, however, the portraits are wiped away by a hand: as if they themselves were merely offers and products on a display, to be used as needed - or to be deleted without further ado. Nicola Hümpel makes a strong association in her new production of the Schnitzler opera "Reigen" by Philippe Boesmans at the Stuttgart State Opera. Hümpel takes the social criticism further, which is already clearly outlined in the original by Arthur Schnitzler - his scandalous play from 1897 is far more than a study of promiscuity and sex between people of different social backgrounds; in Schnitzler's work, the disturbed sociality of modern man is exposed. Intimacy and Sex This is where Hümpel and her Berlin company Nico and the Navigators come in: Pornography and sexual partners have never been available so quickly, anonymously and unhindered as in the age of the Internet and social networks. Schnitzler's vision of a total alienation of the now digital ego and collective isolation seems to have come true. Hümpel develops her diagnosis in a chamber play - all the more compelling because she is interested first and foremost in the interior and intimacy of the characters. Videos, which she integrates for the first time, show the individual faces of the characters, magnify their reactions like magnifying glasses, capture the smallest emotions. In keeping with this, Oliver Proske's stage primarily exhibits the characters themselves - as if in a panopticon. The production benefits considerably from the engaging presence and brilliant acting of the soloists. All sorts of characters amuse and injure themselves here: the singer (Melanie Diener) and the poet (Matthias Klink), the strumpet (Lauryna Bendžiūnaitė) and the soldier (Daniel Kluge), the count (André Morsch), the husband (Shigeo Ishino) or the young woman (Rebecca von Lipinski). Hümpel makes some of them fidget nervously, almost uniformly and mechanically, with which the disturbed social role models become all the more clear. In this way, the Stuttgart "Reigen" takes a fundamentally different approach than the more recent "Reigen" opera that Austrian Bernhard Lang served up for the 2014 Schwetzingen Festival. While Georges Delnon's Schwetzingen "Reigen" direction focused mainly on provocative mattress acrobatics, Hümpel is concerned with the hidden longings and fears behind them. Where occasionally absurd pillow fights are staged or ejaculates splash far into the theater sky, the topical and moral explosiveness is humorously broken: In this way, the Stuttgart "Reigen" does not fall into the simple voyeur and sex trap. In this way Hümpel not only sharpens Schnitzler's intention, but also Boesmans'. Just as Schnitzler omitted the consummation of the acts of love by dots, Boesmans refrains from explicit intercourse music, for instance after the model of the "Rosenkavalier" prelude by Richard Strauss or the "Lady Macbeth of Mzensk" by Shostakovich. Moreover, Hümpel picks up on the character direction that is laid out in Boesmans' colorful music. Similar to Lang, Boesmans works with a postmodern variety of styles in "Reigen." But while Lang's music soon exhausts itself in arbitrary, quasi-minimalist redundancy, Boesmans uses the variety of styles to effectively characterize the characters. Baroque pomp, late Romantic pathos, quotations or sounds of early modernism: the Belgian composer's repertoire is rich. With Bernhard Lang, on the other hand, stylistic diversity remains more of an end in itself. This is also the case with his new opera "Der Golem", which has now been premiered at the Nationaltheater Mannheim, in a decorative directorial installation by Peter Missotten. It is based on the once widely read novel of the same name by Gustav Meyrink, which was published in 1915. Behind the Golem is a creature that haunts the Jewish ghetto of Prague every 33 years. It appears to the jeweler Athanasius Pernath (Thomas Berau), who promptly encounters strange characters - such as the junk dealer Wassertrum and his hateful son (Alin Deleanu) or the beautiful Angelina (Astrid Kessler). With klezmer and salon music, also pop and jazz sounds, Lang's music leads into the respective places of the plot, but the material itself and the characters remain monotonously drawn. Even in the vocal style Lang renounces differentiations, in order to always oscillate between speaking, singing and reciting - occasionally spiced with a shot of onomatopoeia. This soon comes across as similarly interchangeable as the constant repetitions, which increase the comprehensibility of the text, but spell out the plot all too simply. Yet Meyrink's "Golem" is not simply a horror novel, but is based - highly complex at the time - on findings of modern dream psychology, oriental-occult visions, Jewish secret teachings and not least on the romantic fantasy of an E. T. A. Hoffmann. Being and Appearance Meyrink sketches dark twilight states of the inner life of the soul until the boundaries between being and appearance, ego and outer world become blurred. This ambiguity remains unused and unheard in Lang's opera version - a fact reinforced by Joseph Trafton's somewhat sweeping musical direction. In contrast, Stuttgart's "Reigen" shines not least thanks to the exemplary differentiation of Boesmans' score by Sylvain Cambreling and the Stuttgart State Orchestra. Cambreling had already conducted the world premiere of the opera at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels in 1993 - his experience of the work and his clairvoyance now benefited this important new production.

Karsten Umlauf / Bayerischer Rundfunk

The facial dramatizations are diametric with expressions from grand pathos to irritable disgust. In an utopian backdrop a reappearing film of a dancing couple, happy and free serve the notion that lust and love could be brought into unison. A perception that fades but is not so quick to be swept aside…

Karsten Umlauf / Bayerischer Rundfunk

At the time, Arthur Schnitzler's "Reigen" was scandalous and kept under lock and key. In the 1990s, Philipp Boesmans turned the material into an opera. The production in Stuttgart now lifts it into the here and now - with wit and surprisingly tonal. Ten couples, ten times sex? There is nothing to see on stage. What is publicly negotiated is what the changing sexual partners have to talk about with each other before and after. When Arthur Schnitzler's "Reigen" premiered in 1920, the play nevertheless caused a stir. So much so, in fact, that the "Reigen" was henceforth kept under lock and key. It was not until 1982 that it was allowed to be performed again. Eleven years later, the Belgian composer Philipp Boesmans made an opera out of it, premiered in Brussels. The conductor of the premiere, Sylvain Cambreling, is now General Music Director in Stuttgart. There, he was on the podium yesterday for a new production of Boesmans' "Reigen." The composer turns 80 next week, and his opera was staged by a 46-year-old, Nicola Hümpel of Berlin. And she has indeed rescued the piece into the present day. The "in-out game" also as stage design It seems as if Schnitzler's "Reigen" was just waiting to be brought to the stage in times of dating apps and cyber sex. In any case, director Nicola Hümpel and her team "Nico and the Navigators" have located the play entirely in the here and now. Every now and then, someone pulls out a cell phone, takes a selfie or types something into it. After the encounter, there is a photo that is projected onto the back wall of the stage and then wiped aside, as is usual with the relevant apps. One stays, the other leaves. Clear the way for the next copulation partner. One after the other, they try it out with each other: harlot and soldier, soldier and parlor maid, parlor maid and young gentleman, and so on. The names are still from Schnitzler, the characters are from today. The stage is a cold room within a room: a low stone-grey ceiling always remains the same, for each encounter two new walls are brought in from the right, from the left the seating or reclining furniture comes through a hole in the wall. Set designer Oliver Proske has imaginatively transferred the old in-out game to the stage. However, the equation "new bed, new happiness" never works out. Where Arthur Schnitzler writes only dashes and leaves the rest to the imagination of the reader or the director, Philipp Boesmans composes sometimes a glassy fragile, sometimes a hard mechanistic music of togetherness. This sounds surprisingly tonal; in a mixture of Alban Berg and French Impressionism, conductor Sylvain Cambreling and the Stuttgart Orchestra spread out a wide palette of colors. However, he cannot avoid the impression that the composition also turns in circles at some point and could well have been streamlined by half an hour. On the whole entertaining and with consistently good singers Because the direction takes the topic rather lightly, it remains an overall entertaining evening. There is no sex to be seen, rather documents of its failure. And that is often quite funny. The soldier splashes some liquid across the stage before it even really gets to touching. The sweet girl bites so heartily into a sausage that her counterpart becomes frightened. Young woman and young man can't find the right position in a much too narrow foam landscape. Via live video, the faces can be seen in close-ups, which in this case actually fits well, because the consistently very good singers also turn out to be excellent actors. This results in eye dramaturgies that range from sublime pathos to irritated disgust and rarely match each other. Only a dancing couple, which can be seen again and again as a film in between, remains as a utopia in the background, happy, dissolved, with the idea that physical closeness and love could actually be reconciled. A notion that fades, but at least cannot be wiped away quite so quickly.

Susanne Benda / Stuttgarter Nachrichten

The excellence of the Stuttgart ensemble of singers (largely nurtured by opera director Eva Kleinitz) was particularly evident here, because director Nicola Hümpel worked out fine character studies with each individual performer; a camera caught the fact that these reached into the smallest twitches of facial expression, and the merging spaces on Oliver Proskes’ stage complemented the turbulent-ironic play – an evening for the eyes, also beautiful.

Susanne Benda / Stuttgarter Nachrichten

During Klaus Zehelein's directorship, the magazine "Opernwelt" voted Stuttgart Opera Primus inter Pares five times. If the prestigious prize now goes to Stuttgart again after ten years, then this is a testament to the high recognition for the work under artistic director Jossi Wieler. Stuttgart - The time was ripe, a long time ago. For at least two years, the team around artistic director Jossi Wieler had been a hot candidate for the best-known award there is in the opera business. "Opera House of the Year": this title, which Stuttgart's most influential opera director, Klaus Zehelein, won for his house no fewer than five times during his 15-year tenure, rewards a uniqueness that the Stuttgart Opera can now claim for itself once again. In 2016, it is based on a balancing act between hermeticism and openness, concentration and diversity, seriousness and playful experimentation - and on a respectful caution in dealing with art and artists. Yet the path to the existing state of artistic bliss was not a straight one. It was the path of an artist: a sensitive director-director who, when he took office, dreamed of a small, self-contained opera Elysium in which he wanted to create something valid and lasting together with firm friends. The fact that he changed course three years later was also the decision of a thoroughly artistic person, because for him failure is not defeat, but always just the end of one path and the beginning of a new one. In 2011, the director Jossi Wieler took over the directorship of the Stuttgart Opera with the aim of countering the rapidly rotating merry-go-round of big names and spectacular events in the opera business with a model that seemed new and yet had already been practiced by the legendary Berlin director-director Walter Felsenstein in the mid-20th century: a concentrated music theater workshop in which a permanent team was to get closer to the core of the magic of opera. Wieler broke up the hermetic nature of his design in 2014: The house director Andrea Moses left, and in her place came directors with very different, mostly strong, independent signatures, and in combination with the productions of Jossi Wieler and his musically, linguistically and historically extremely knowledgeable dramaturge Sergio Morabito, a fertile humus has since resulted on which art grows, thrives and sprouts colorful blossoms. The event of the season: Kirill Serebrennikov's "Salome The most colorful of these last season was certainly Kirill Serebrennikov's exciting and oppressive production of Richard Strauss' "Salome," which in the race for "Production of the Year" at "Opernwelt," by the way, was overtaken only by the monumental event of the season, Karlheinz Stockhausen's "Thursday" from "Licht" in Basel. Instead of turgid eroticism, there was a very contemporary psychological thriller in Stuttgart about a deformed society in times of terror. And one also experienced what has become the trademark of the Haus am Eckensee for years: music theater as togetherness, as a marvel of working together on art. The conductor (Roland Klutting), the state orchestra, the singers (above all Matthias Klink as Herod and Simone Schneider as Salome, both of them also high up in the singer ranking of the professional journal won by Christian Gerhaher), the scenically motivated and integrated video technology: it was all one, and as an audience member of the Stuttgart Opera, one feels this as bundled energy radiating from the stage into the hall. This energy even worked where the efforts of the performers worked on a slightly weakening object, because musically it was a bit sticky: in Philipp Boesmans' opera about Arthur Schnitzler's "Reigen". The excellence of the Stuttgart ensemble of singers (largely nurtured by opera director Eva Kleinitz) was particularly evident here, because director Nicola Hümpel worked out fine character studies with each individual performer; a camera caught the fact that these reached into the smallest twitches of facial expression, and the merging spaces on Oliver Proskes' stage complemented the turbulent-ironic play - an evening for the eyes, also beautiful.

Mirko Weber / Stuttgarter Zeitung

In Serebrennikov as well as in Christoph Marthaler (“The Tales of Hoffmann”) and Nicola Hümpel (“Reigen”), the dramaturgy in the past season had sought out counterparts that it needed in order to continue to be sovereign in its own visual language. All three of them presented productions that the former house director Andrea Moses had never managed to the same extent: written in their own way, but not obsessed with asserting a topicality that is no longer exactly that when it comes across as over-demonstrative.

Mirko Weber / Stuttgarter Zeitung

After a decade, the Stuttgart Opera has once again been voted the best of the year. So it's a little hard to think that in two years the artistic direction will change. Looking back on a successful season. In the seventies, Jossi Wieler, who grew up on Lake Constance, studied in Tel Aviv and worked at the Habima National Theater; one often doesn't even think about it. He knew German theater mainly from theater magazines, in which at that time, when Botho Strauß was still an editor and not yet a national writer, theater was spoken of as if it were, at least by proxy, the world. So: for itself and quite seriously. It was the time of Peter Zadek, Peter Stein, Hans Neuenfels and Pina Bausch, and "exactly where they were," Jossi Wieler once said - appropriately enough, we were sitting in the Turmstüberl of Munich's "Valentin-Musäum," "I wanted to go there, too. That worked out so far for the stranger in the stranger, with whom one has not been able to get rid of the feeling from the beginning, i.e. since Bonn acting times in the Werkstatttheater, as if he, with means changing according to the occasion, always wants to tell only one story, because perhaps - of the love possibly overcoming all conflicts - there is also only one story that is always worth telling: that of power and powerlessness, that of master and servant. Wieler's pictures have this quality: that they accompany you through life, make you think, sometimes even guide you. For example his "Amphytrion", a high bar exercise, at the same time free and faithful to Heinrich von Kleist, which in 1985, more than thirty years ago, he had Robert Hunger-Bühler perform in a highly original way - actually on the apparatus and on the stage, which at that time was already designed by Anna Viebrock. Was that a god, how he swung and talked and flew! And was that an analysis, how he, swinging, circled the language. Only to land again on the ground, where the assistant Sosias was onionized, as one cannot say otherwise. In a balloon above time Wieler's daring gymnasium acrobatics of yesteryear came back to mind when one sat in the performance of Vincenzo Bellini's "I Puritani", literally marveling at the stage design. For once again the will to think laterally, to be different, was crystal-clearly recognizable, even strengthened by co-director Sergio Morabito. But not out of affability or because one could not think of anything better, but out of consistent deliberation. So the play only became a contemporary play (about virtue terror, religious abuse, cadaver obedience, etc.) because it was left in its time, centuries ago. And yet it was contemporary, oppressively close in its drama, which Wieler/Morabito only rarely broke up ironically. Like, to take a breath. In this special season, the terror of the 17th century in the air was matched by Kirill Serebrennikov's direction, which worked with both biblical force and virtuosity with video and live cam. He saw Richard Strauss' "Salome" above all as the downfall of the political gang around Herod (here: master and servant in one person): not as a sultry, but as an evil parable. And, please: no pity. In Serebrennikov as well as in Christoph Marthaler ("The Tales of Hoffmann") and Nicola Hümpel ("Reigen"), the dramaturgy in the past season had sought out the counterparts it needed in order to continue to move confidently in its own visual language. All three of them presented productions that the former house director Andrea Moses had never managed to the same extent: written in their own way, but not obsessed with asserting a topicality that is no longer exactly that when it comes across as over-demonstrative. It's quite possible that the artistic directors didn't choose the advertising image for the new season by chance: an entire Großes Haus, with motivated people inside, takes off in the shape of a balloon. They know where the earth is. But they want to get up there a bit, if they can. A pound to grow with The prime example of "Salome," a performance from which people came out as if they had just learned to spell the word opera, teaches us, by the way, that the good things are often very close at hand, or work. The Coburg opera director Roland Kluttig, whose "Parsifal" this season (in Coburg!) can be looked forward to, was quickly booked as a substitute. Kluttig is a Stuttgart product from the Lothar Zagrosek era, whom the dramaturge Juliane Votteler (now opera director in Augsburg) already attested at the time that he was not only a "transmission belt," but already had great personal responsibility. Kluttig proved how big that is now when he electrified Strauss in such a well-dosed way that the walls almost shook in the Stuttgart Opera. In addition to GMD Sylvain Cambreling, who will still be in charge of the next two seasons under the artistic direction of Jossi Wieler, further conductors of Kluttig's caliber would be very desirable and definitely in the spirit of the workshop idea. Apropos, workshop, walls - and yes: will the award for "Opera House of the Year" by the magazine "Opernwelt" bring anything in this respect? That someone would be chosen by the politicians who would do nothing but see to it that plans, if they existed, were quickly put into practice (where in principle it is already past twelve)? And that, at all, perhaps once is tried to grow with such a pound as it represents now times such a distinction? Germany has, what one should not forget perhaps, some large city operas, which are hardly or no longer in function: In Cologne, as in Berlin's Linden Opera, construction seems to be going on forever. Frankfurt, where there is an excellently managed house, is facing renovation measures that cannot yet be calculated. Stuttgart, a glance at the almost pompously funded and managed Munich may suffice as a warning, has a lot to lose, and more than one title: its audience.

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