Masterclass for Opera Directors

with Barrie Kosky
artistic director and chief stage director
of the Komische Oper Berlin
Barrie Kosky rehearsing Jewgeni Onegin, january 2016 © Jan Windszus Photography
Barrie Kosky rehearsing Jewgeni Onegin, january 2016 © Jan Windszus Photography
While masterclasses – generally workshops spanning several days where experienced musicians pass on their knowledge and expertise to the younger generation – are a common feature of the education and training of singers and instrumentalists, they are a comparative rarity when it comes to stage direction. Yet in opera directing just as in singing and instrumental musicianship, soundly based technical proficiency is a prerequisite for high-quality artistic achievement. Ever since it was founded by the director Walter Felsenstein in 1947, the Komische Oper Berlin has attached particular importance to staging, irrespective of the prevailing aesthetic. The opera house would therefore seem predestined to be the venue for a masterclass delivering hands-on practical coaching in stage direction.
In its 70th season, 2017/18, the Komische Oper Berlin for the first time (from 16th to 20th May 2018) invited applications to a five-day masterclass open to three young directors and hosted by its artistic director and chief stage director Barrie Kosky.The next masterclass will take place in the 2019/20 season. The application modalities will be announced here!

The three master students
from 16th to 20th may 2018

Béatrice Lachaussée

Natalia Kozłowska

Kai Anne Schuhmacher

Opera director Béatrice Lachaussée was born and raised in Paris. She studied philosophy at the Sorbonne, then later musical theatre direction at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. In 2013, she made her directorial debut with the world premiere of the opera Biedermann und die Brandstifter by Šimon Voseček at the Neue Oper Wien. Her interpretation of Wolfgang Rihm’s opera Jakob Lenz at the Trinitatiskirche of the Cologne Opera won the 2014 Götz Friedrich Studio Prize for the best chamber opera production in the German-speaking world. This was followed by directorial engagements at the Luzerner Theater (Béatrice et Bénédict), the Theater Aachen (Die verkaufte Braut), and the Cologne Opera (L’heure espagnole/L’enfant et les sortilèges). Next season, Béatrice Lachaussée will direct Puccini’s Madama Butterfly at the Stadttheater Bremerhaven.
Béatrice Lachaussée about the masterclass: »The masterclass at the Komische Oper Berlin offers a wonderful opportunity to refine your own directing methods during rehearsals under the close observation of, and through incisive analysis by, Barrie Kosky. The focus is on individual direction, and you get to work with outstanding singers from the ensemble. Barrie Kosky is respectful in his approach to teaching valuable directing tools – an exceedingly inspiring dialogue!«
Natalia Kozłowska graduated from A. Zelwerowicz Theater Academy in Warsaw. She was director assistant for several production at the Polish National Opera, among others she has worked with M. Treliński and B. Wysocka. She debuted with production of Dido and Aeneas by H. Purcell. She was stage director of 17 opera productions, such as: A. Vivaldi’s Farnace (Royal Theatre in Royal Łazienki in Warsaw), four operas by G. Puccini: Le Villi, Gianni Schicchi, Suor Angelica and Il tabarro (Baltic Opera in Gdansk), Pierrot Lunaire by A. Schönberg (Center for Contemporary Art in Warsaw), S. Rachmaninoff’s Francesca da Rimini, Eros i Psyche by L. Różycki (Baltic Opera). Agrippina and Orlando by G. F. Händel (Royal Theatre in Royal Łazienki in Warsaw), pasticcio Baroque Living Room prepared for the Royal Philharmonic Concert Hall in Warsaw, two opera-ballet by J. P. Rameau Pygmalion (Warsaw Chamber Opera) and Les Indes galantes (Opera Nova in Bydgoszcz). In 2014 she did an internship at the Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe within production of Les Fausses Confidences by Marivaux directed by Luc Bondy. Her production of G. F. Händel’s Agrippina was nominated for the Koryfeusz award in 2015 in the category event of the year.
Natalia Kozłowska about the masterclass: »The masterclass organized by the Komische Oper Berlin is a rare opportunity for young opera directors to exchange experiences and to meet a real master of this art form - Barrie Kosky. Working under his guidance for me was a chance to rethink my methods and recognize my strong and my weak sides. Barrie Kosky really wants to share his experience, he understands how important it is for beginners to improve their skills, and his advice was eye-opening. This masterclass was also a chance to see from the inside how the Komische Oper Berlin is organized, it was a really inspiring adventure.«
After studying musicology at the University of Bayreuth and the University of Ferrara, Kai Anne Schuhmacher began her directorial studies in 2011 at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, where she earned her degree in 2014. While still in university, she worked as an assistant and director in Germany, Austria, France, and Switzerland. In 2016, Kai Anne Schuhmacher made her directorial debut with Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia at the Cologne Opera, where she subsequently also staged Pierrot Lunaire. In her production of Hoffmanns Erzählungen for children at the Cologne Opera, she incorporated elements of puppetry and masked theatre for the first time, building her own puppets, and she even wrote the libretto herself. Since the 2017/18 season, Schuhmacher has been an Artist in Residence at the Figurentheater Gera. In addition to productions in spoken and musical theatre, her work also includes off-stage collages and projects in the public arena. Her last project was the interactive multi-stage theatre piece Re:Play, which premiered in December 2017 at the Out of Control Festival in Vienna with the Netzzeit ensemble.
Kai Anne Schuhmacher about the masterclass: » A masterclass like the one offered by the Komische Oper Berlin is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Promoting young singers is a given in the world of opera; yet it is often overlooked that they can only shine on stage if they have a skilled director as a partner at their side. The Komische Oper Berlin has recognised the lack of in-depth training available to young directors of musical theatre and reacted in a brilliant way with Barrie Kosky’s master class. I think it is both pioneering and idealistic in the best sense of the word when an institution spends its own money to provide three young directors with a week’s intensive training at one of Europe’s most prestigious opera houses – in the belief that good directing skills are the foundation for the blossoming world of musical theatre of tomorrow. After this week, I felt I had been once more reminded of what actually matters when it comes to directing: studying the music exactingly, trusting in the singer-performers and their individual abilities, and not least the clarity of the words. One needn’t be afraid of great operas, but merely have respect for the music. One has to listen closely; the score tells a director everything they need to know. That was the key insight I gained from the class.
Komische Oper Berlin
Dr. Rainer Simon
Referent of the intendant
Behrenstraße 55-57
10117 Berlin