Tenor star Jonas Kaufmann: “We singers are hostages of our agendas”

AThe star tenor Jonas Kaufmann was and is affected by the lockdown of the music business. He used the time for streaming concerts, recorded a Christmas album and made a documentary about his life. And put his musical life to the test. “I’m seriously considering”, he says in an interview, “whether I actually want to do that again.”


Classic and Corona: The cultural scene is fighting back. A little bit

“Extrawurst!” Suddenly the culture minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen, who has otherwise been quite silent in the past few months, grumbles quite aggressively at her clientele as a kind of cheese-maker who has become human. “No extra sausage for culture!”

The same Pfeiffer-Poensgen, who canceled her last autumn festival as punishment for her insubordination to the not exactly docile RuhrTriennale director Stefanie Carp. At taxpayer costs and – see Salzburg – without real Covid emergency.

And now she is rebuking the culture people, because at least a few have dared to rebel against the second lockdown of theaters and concert halls, which have been on the back burner or nothing at all since March.

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Again, there have only been little rantings, especially in Bavaria, where previously only 200, and most recently 50 people were allowed to hear operas or concerts in the largest halls.

Under the hashtag #AlarmstufeRot The Bavarian stages, which have not even been told how the cocky hygiene test with 500 spectators at the Bavarian State Opera, the Munich Gasteig and the Nuremberg Meistersingerhalle (Söder electoral area) went, glow their houses bloody and so light up the powerful a little . Nice try. And keep silent, eloquently, live or recorded – on social media.

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Anne-Sophie Mutter, suddenly the Mater dolorosa of the freelance musicians, wants to play during the service in the churches that are still open in the coming weeks – on Sunday, November 15, in the Thomaskirche Leipzig at 9.30 am and at 6 pm; Donations are requested. Mohamed Hiber, Vladimir Babeshko and Daniel Müller-Schott want to support them in order to draw attention to the freelance musicians, who have often been unpaid for over half a year and who have already been thwarted again.

The Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, without subsidies, canceled everything by the end of the year, the situation is too uncertain, just going up and down all the time, you can’t afford that there. Meanwhile, the others are rehearsing behind closed doors with grim fury and streaming again.

Small “Monday pieces” in Munich, entire concerts in front of an empty house, even if due to restrictions, some pieces that were played shortly beforehand, such as the German Symphony Orchestra in the Berlin Philharmonic, because they haven’t played their first joint appearance with Simon Rattle in decades wanted to spoil. Even if he, with a midi version of Mahler’s “Lied von der Erde” including his obligatory wife Magdalena Kozena, falls back on the tried and tested.

Innovative formats are rare

You are grateful for the little that happens live online, because the daily continuous streams of the Metropolitan Opera, which is closed for at least one and a half seasons, are already beginning to repeat themselves dangerously. Likewise, the regular music theater cocktail at the Vienna State Opera, where at least a bit of fresh food was served. And all for free, while in dark France or England there are payment barriers or country codes between the meager offer.

Many new, innovative formats are rarely found. The directors from the Elbe to the Isar prefer to send tame letters of protest to state governments across the board; without reaction. In Italy, which is already again plagued by corona, people remain silent, resignedly, La Scala in Milan has already canceled the major society event of the season inauguration on December 7th with Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor”, instead streaming a Tuttifrutti again from the empty house -Arien evening.

Here nobody seems to believe in a general opening in December anymore. And while in Madrid, where entire districts are locked, Christof Loy Dvorák’s “Rusalka” with Asmik Grigorian premiered at the Teatro Real, and the Vienna Philharmonic, which is expensive to market, is in permanent quarantine in Japan for a week, you only look in Germany Scheel at the stuck game plans for the Christmas weeks. How can all the canceled premieres, which have often been postponed several times for months, fit in?

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Especially since expensive hygiene concepts have not brought anything – no contagions, but unfortunately no rethinking of the stubborn politics, which still dismiss culture as an entertainment tralala. Which hurts almost more than the monetary losses that even the municipal and state-owned companies will one day hit with full force.

As a precaution, some singers have already been given toggle contracts, of all places in Frankfurt, the “Opera House of the Year”, where artistic director Bernd Loebe heads the German Opera Conference, so far no loss has been paid, but the acting colleague next door is granted 50 percent.

In Berlin, Senator for Culture Klaus Lederer extended the management contracts at the Deutsche Oper and the Berliner Ensemble to safeguard against drought. The Deutsches Theater is now assigned to Iris Laufenberg from 2023. This is how people talk and grumble, but nothing is done. The free are getting more and more clingy.

Liberating world premiere for Beethoven

Consolation donates again – art. Not only Tralala can do. Just in time for the second lockdown, a holy, cleansing thunderous sound came down live for the “Wien modern” festival cameras in the empty golden hall of the Wiener Musikverein.

Composed by an 89 year old legend: Sofia Gubaidulina. For three years the world has been waiting for the composer homage for Ludwig van … – “To the great Beethoven”, which has already been announced several times.

After the great Antoine Tamestit had played her riotous viola concerto, magnificently and confidently seconded by Oksana Lyniv at the desk of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra of the ORF, at least the second part of the composer’s honor broke off in the fifth attempt as a liberating premiere.

Sofia Gubaidulina honors Ludwig van Beethoven

Sofia Gubaidulina honors Ludwig van Beethoven

Source: dpa

“The Wrath of God” lived up to its name with the cleansing thunder of the Jericho brass instruments, four Wagner tubas and two bass tubas, vehement string furiosis and glaring dies-irae cascades. O holy fortissimo! This domesticated aggression, gestural, contrapuntal, multilayered, refined, luminous, uninhibited in terms of civilization, it did so well! Marching drum and large gong made the enthroned Christ of Judgment Day appear as a resounding apotheosis.

“God is angry. He is angry, angry with us humans, with our behavior. We have put guilt on ourselves ”, whispers the Gubaidulina about her“ simple prayer ”, which is not afraid of references to the ninth.

Corona, we are coming! This old lady at least made her contribution to the pandemic. The impressive stream can still be seen until November 13th.


Corona pandemic: Munich is dark red – Munich

From this Monday on, stricter corona rules apply in Munich. The reason for this is the further increase in the number of infections over the weekend. The seven-day incidence on Sunday was 100.6, according to the Robert Koch Institute. This means that more than 100 out of 100,000 residents have been newly infected with the coronavirus in the past seven days – in other words: one in 1,000.

The number of reproductions is 1.2 – this means that, statistically, 100 infected people infect 120 new people. With the incidence value exceeding the 100 mark, Munich has reached the “dark red” level on the Free State’s so-called Corona traffic light. This means that the stricter corona rules that the state government has set for this level automatically apply from the following day.

The curfew in gastronomy is brought forward to 9 p.m. From this point on, there will also be a city-wide ban on selling alcohol and drinking publicly in several heavily frequented places. Both regulations start an hour earlier than before and apply until six in the morning. In addition, only 50 spectators or participants will be admitted to events. Only demonstrations, university lectures and church services are excluded.

The theaters are hoping for a special permit from the mayor

All of these new rules will apply at least until the end of the week. Even if Munich fell below 100 on Monday, they would remain in force for another five days. For the time being, the city wants to stick to its exception rule, which exempt primary school students from the mask requirement. The aggravation is likely to hit cultural life particularly hard. The upper limit of 50 participants for events has an impact on theaters and concert organizers, up to 200 spectators were allowed here previously. As part of a pilot project, the State Opera and Philharmonic Hall had permission to even admit 500 spectators.

Several directors of the Bavarian theaters had only insisted on Friday in an open letter to Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) that they should continue to play in front of 200 people regardless of the rising number of infections. They justify this by saying that they have long been working with well-functioning hygiene concepts. Sufficient distance between the seats, modern ventilation systems and airy pathways ensured a safe visit to the theater. In fact, no case is known so far in which someone was infected during a performance.

If only 50 spectators were actually admitted from Monday on, that would be a major setback for the theater in the half-way running again. Especially since, for example, the premiere of “Dantons Tod” will take place next Friday at the Residenztheater and “Die Vögel” will be staged by Frank Castorf at the State Opera on Saturday, both of which have long since been sold out.

In addition, a reduction in the number of spectators means an immense bureaucratic effort, according to the State Opera’s press office. For example, all tickets that have already been sold would have to be booked back and performances would have to be sold again. Otherwise you can hardly decide which 50 people are allowed to come and which are not. Not to mention the planning uncertainty for performances that are about to go on sale in advance.

The theaters’ last hope is now on Mayor Dieter Reiter (SPD) or the district administration department, says Ingrid Trobitz, deputy director of the Residenztheater. On the sidelines of the “Stand Up for Culture” demonstration on Saturday, Art Minister Bernd Sibler referred to the special permit that theaters can apply to the city of Munich. It is expected that this question will be resolved on Monday, but plan for the worst. “It’s a shitty situation,” says the new Kammerspiele director Barbara Mundel.

She is already considering shortening productions in an emergency and then playing two or three times in a row in order to reach at least a reasonably acceptable number of people with her art. The speakers of the Kammerspiele, the Volkstheater, the State Opera and the Residenztheater agree that they would also play in front of 50 spectators. Because although it would really not be economical – they do not want to lock up again completely.

Meanwhile, there has been a corona outbreak in the intensive care unit at the Großhadern Clinic of the Ludwig Maximilians University (LMU). There, at the end of last week, three patients tested positive for the corona virus – they were still negative when they were admitted to the hospital. The cases had been reported to the health department, said spokesman Philipp Kreßirer, all contact persons had been identified and tested. Intensive care staff is also affected, but no other patients.

A genetic analysis of the viruses should clarify how the chains of infection have run

The affected employees are in quarantine, “the infection process is limited according to the current status,” said the clinic. The number of employees in quarantine is in the single-digit range. The affected patients have now been transferred back to the normal ward, where they are isolated and receive further treatment.

How the patients got infected is still unclear. They are researching intensively and carrying out a genetic analysis of the viruses, said Kreßirer – so you can see how the chains of infection have run. “We now have to find out what the cause was.” Say who brought the virus to the intensive care unit. Until the results of the investigations are available, which were started on Friday, at least a week will probably pass.


Soprano Anna El-Khashem is the upcoming superstar

BIn some people, the talent luck fairy has been really great and lingered for a long time. But she also chose it well. Knowing well that the gifted individual would handle it intuitively and responsibly. Then all the attendants along the career path set the course at the given time, then the star can rise if it sparkles so splendidly so early.

Just like the Russian-Lebanese soprano Anna El-Khashem, who was born and trained in Saint Petersburg, but has been polished and refined in Germany and has now been released into her profession and profession. You have to remember the name.


Obituary for Peter Jonas – culture

Peter Jonas directed the Bavarian State Opera for 13 years. And led the house, which had been silted up in tradition, into the modern age.

He was not a German cultural official and certainly not a skilled opera manager. When Peter Jonas came to Munich for the first time in March 1993, when he had just been appointed the new director of the Bavarian State Opera, the local cultural journalists were astonished.

A new director of the venerable State Opera, Germany’s largest opera house, would, so it was thought at the time, about the man, who was almost unknown in Bavaria to date, in terms of type, like his predecessors, to embody the educated middle class, tradition and meaning. But a lean, young and sporty-looking man in jeans appeared for the interview. Born in London in 1946, he turns out to be a passionate, unpretentious, avid lover of the arts, averse to any cultural pathos.

Peter Jonas will then quickly kick the aged dinosaur opera in culturally saturated Munich. And indeed: A giant Tyrannosaurus Rex fills the stage of the National Theater the following year and then, as a symbol of prehistoric times, a fantastic threat, became the symbol of the Munich Jonas era. The dinosaur tipping to the ground in Georg Friedrich Handel’s opera “Giulio Cesare in Egitto”, discussed stormily in Munich, made the difference to the usual, aesthetically solid to glamorous tried and tested musical theater.

Jonas’ predecessor Wolfgang Sawallisch, temporarily general music director and state opera director in personal union, had tackled two mammoth projects in the 1980s with the overall performance of all 13 Wagner operas and later the 15 Strauss operas. No opera house in the world ever wanted and could do anything comparable. It is unforgettable. Nevertheless, the appointment of Peter Jonas in Munich caused a sigh of relief.

Because Sawallisch was able to break away from the once almighty and brilliantly busy opera director and director August Everding. But he had failed to connect to the new trends in music theater. Herbert Wernicke had dusted Handel’s “Judas Maccabaeus” in 1980 and Wagner’s “Dutch” the following year, and Nikolaus Lehnhoff’s production of Wagner’s “Ring” in Erich Wonder’s science fiction images also caused a stir in 1987. But then the scenic and musical traditionalism increasingly paralyzed the house and its defective stage technology.

“The Germans are more cordial, the British are heartless.”

The newcomer renewed the schedule, the aesthetics of the performance and a connection to the public that was committed to the term accessibility. Jonas had been Georg Solti’s director in Chicago for ten years, then director of the English National Opera in London. Right at the beginning of his time in Munich, he engaged Richard Jones and let him stage Handel’s opera “Giulio Cesare”. The piece had previously only been played occasionally in Munich and as a larmoyingly late-romantic baroque monster. Jones, on the other hand, with outfitter Nigel Lowery and conductor Ivor Bolton, who conjured up historical sound quality from the state orchestra, managed the miracle of an ironically broken and fast-paced revue music theater.

With Handel, Peter Jonas made his luck in Munich. With a fantastic ensemble of singers, Jonas was able to fascinate Munich opera fans for the baroque opera, which had become so explosive and always amusing, and subsequently also for works by Henry Purcell, Claudio Monteverdi and Francesco Cavalli.

According to Jonas, opera must “challenge our feeling for ourselves and for the habits and political tendencies of our society”. In this way, Jonas was able to expose the principle of loyalty to the work, which is not so rare in Munich, as a kind of fraud, a “fraud in the alienation effect, which Brecht considered the innate principle of opera”. The director’s theater was in full bloom long ago, and with it the questioning of Mozart’s, Verdi’s, or Wagner’s operas about their deep-seated human problems, coupled with the illustration of their backgrounds and abysses.

Jonas soon decided for the director Peter Konwitschny, who came from East Germany and belongs to the Brecht tradition, when he planned a new “Parsifal”. The performance had to provoke the “Wagner fundamentalists” (Jonas), but Konwitschny’s disillusioned view of a frozen grail knighthood was convincing. Only with the four-part “Ring” Jonas had bad luck, since director Herbert Wernicke died after the “Rheingold” and David Alden, who was very busy in Munich at the time, could not provide a meaningful interpretation in the short time.

He has now lost the lifelong fight against cancer, which he heroically fought

In 1998, Peter Jonas made the conductor, Zubin Mehta, the Indian-born conductor, who had studied in Vienna and was chief conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the New York Philharmonic. Mehta offered superior Verdi and Wagner interpretations, he conducted Hector Berlioz’s huge “Trojans” and Aribert Reimann’s new opera “Bernarda Albas Haus”, most recently Arnold Schönberg’s “Moses und Aron”.

Peter Jonas was a consummate gentleman, blessed with British humor, who knew how to transform his press conferences into easy, often sarcastic, roundtable discussions away from the hype of meaning. And after thirteen years, 2006, he said goodbye to the Bavarian State Opera. Jonas stuck in his memory with his love of communication, his kindness capable of biting criticism, his coolness.

Jonas never held back with his admiration for German culture. “The English already hate the word culture,” he said in the 2005 SZ interview. “The British believe in heritage, in land, houses, dogs, and also in art. But not in culture. The Germans have culture. Germany was always the most cultivated country. German culture works like a magnet. ” And he thought he knew: “The Germans are warm, the British are heartless.”

When Jonas left the Bavarian State Opera, he chose Switzerland as what he called “base camp”. Remained active as a teacher and advisor not only in the music world. Became a passionate European who eventually realized his dream: a hike from north to south to Palermo. He has now lost the long fight against his cancer, which he heroically fought. Peter Jonas, knighted by Sir Elizabeth II in 1999, died on Wednesday at the age of 73.