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Snapshots from Germany

A roundup from the German-speaking world: Festival season is winding down, but the Ruhr Triennale, in the first year of Willy Decker’s Intendanz, appears to be going strong. The new director’s four-million-Euro production of Schoenberg’s Moses and Aron opened the festival last week with some features that seem to be becoming standards of Bochum’s Jahrhunderthalle, including moving seating components for the audience (which so impressed critics in David Pountney’s 2007 Triennale production of “Die Soldaten” that came to New York last summer), as well as video, “sound design,” and other state-of-the-art theatrical components. This production - its final performance is on Wednesday – marks the start of a three-year festival cycle focusing on the religions of the world; tonight is the last performance of the festival’s presentation of Jordi Savall’s ambitious, large-scale take on “Jerusalem.” (For reference: this is the festival that Gerard Mortier founded after he left Salzburg and before he took over the Opéra National de Paris.)
(Read about the BR Orchestra and Berlin Philharmonic after the jump)

Welt am Sonntag takes a page from the book of Opernwelt, which prepares an annual “best of the year” list for its fall edition, by polling eight critics every year about the best stagings of the year past. This is worth mentioning only because of a rare case of near-consensus: six of them chose Christof Loy’s staging of “Louise” at the opera house in Duisburg, conducted by Jonathan Darlington. This certainly whetted my interest in the production -- Loy's 16th for the company -- which will appear in Düsseldorf, Duisburg’s partner under the Deutsche Oper am Rhein umbrella, in February, 2010.

Die Welt also reported this week
that the Bavarian government is sharpening the knives for the two orchestras and chorus of Bavarian Radio (Bayerischer Rundfunk), which represents 20% of the expenses of the state-supported station, but accounts for a mere 1.5% of programming. The better of the two orchestras, the Symphony Orchestra of the Bavarian Radio, also happens to be one of the best in the world (don’t take my word for it; it was voted number 6 in Gramophone’s list of the top 20), and is led by the inimitable Mariss Jansons. The pencil-pushers argue that it lost 2.3 million Euros on 8 CD productions in 2004. I doubt that actual dissolution of the BR orchestra is in the cards, but this is a story to watch.

Speaking of watching: the Berlin Philharmonic's Digital Concert Hall, in its second season, is open for business. The next live concert is on September 9 (Simon Rattle conducts "The Seasons"). Only 149 Euro for a season ticket.

By Anne Midgette  |  August 31, 2009; 7:15 AM ET
Categories:  festivals , international , music on the Web , news  
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Next: In Performance: Dina Koston Tribute


While you're reporting on European music festivals, have you heard about this one?

"Austrian town to hold Mozart urination festival

"By TOM PHILLIPS - Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"An Austrian town whose main claim to fame is that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart once stopped there to urinate by the side of the road is organising a festival to celebrate the event.

"Raschala has already had a plaque put on the stone where the famous composer is said to have relieved himself. And so many visitors have turned up to visit the Mozart Pinkelstein ('Mozart pee-stone') in Lower Raschala that the local tourism board as now arranged a festival of music - and lots of drinking - in honour of the great composer's alleged visit."

A friend sent me that in an e-mail without citing the source, but it was accompanied by what looked like a genuine (i.e., not photoshopped) photograph of the stone with its plaque.

Care to suggest some repertoire for the festival?

Posted by: wsheppard | August 31, 2009 7:27 AM | Report abuse

As far as I am concern the Gramophone list of the top 20 orchestras is pure bogus, and in any case, no way that the Bavarian Radio Orchestra is better than Cleveland or Philadelphia (which did not make it in top 20.)

For me as big a loss is the Munich Radio Orchestra which has a more imaginative programming.

But the biggest bummer out of Germany is that Christian Thielemann has not renewed his contract with the Munich Philharmonic. It was a wonderful working partnership which I much prefer to Jansons / Bavarian Radio orchestra ( perhaps the Bavarian Radio Orchestra is the better band, but I do prefer Thielemann in the right repertoire.)

I have much to say about the Munich Philharmonic, but I don't have time so I'll stop here. Some other day, perhaps.

Posted by: cicciofrancolando | August 31, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I hope a production of Louise, if not this one, makes the rounds of U.S. opera houses in the near future. There was a production of it at Spoleto USA this spring, but I am unaware of any other productions of it anywhere in this country for a long time. Former Washington Post critic Tim Page waxed enthusiastic about the Spoleto Louise in the Charleston Post and Courier; his review is worth reading on-line. Perhaps with the near-unanimity on the Duisberg Louise, one of these productions will get some legs.

Posted by: 74umgrad1 | August 31, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

One question for Anne. I know this may sound indiscreet, so I apologize, but could you please tell us from what year to what you lived in Germany - Munich in particular? There is a musical reason for me asking - and I again apologize for indiscretion.

Posted by: cicciofrancolando | September 1, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

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