2019/20 Season

Rediscoveries and new discoveries
With nine premieres, 14 repeat productions, and numerous concerts and special events, we dedicate the 2019/20 season to the god Dionysus as the embodiment of the sensory, emotional and community-building power of music and theater.

No matter whether we’re atheists, Jews, Christians, Muslims or Buddhists, when we believe in the power of theater and music, in its intoxicating, seductive, sensual, emotional and above all community-building power – when we believe in all this, we believe in the god Dionysus. I would like to dedicate this season to him. To a year of operatic intoxication!
Barrie Kosky, Chefregisseur and Intendant
The new productions reflect the entire spectrum of musical theater – from Baroque pieces to world premieres, from evenings of staged chansons to operetta and people’s opera, from monumental contemporary operas, to classics from the repertoire, to rediscoveries of nearly forgotten operettas.
 
Barrie Kosky and Vladimir Jurowski open this season with The Bassarids by Hans Werner Henze. The mythical story deals with the primordial human conflict between instinct and reason. We then turn our attention to the rediscovery of the Jewish-Czech composer Jaromír Weinberger: his world-wide success Schwanda the Bagpiper from 1927, a late romantic musical comedy and the composer’s declaration of love for his Bohemian homeland. This and his Spring Storms will be presented as new productions. The latter operetta, which Weinberger composed specially for the star tenor Richard Tauber and which in January 1933 became the last operetta of the Weimar Republic, will be heard again for the first time since 1933. It has been re-orchestrated for Barrie Kosky’s new production, as the score is believed to be lost. 

Spring Storms

The Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov returns to produce The Rake's Progress by Igor Stravinsky ­– a tale of seduction, life, passion, insanity and death. Richard Jones also returns to continue the Baroque series from the previous season with a production of Handel’s Jephta under the musical direction of the early music specialist Christian Curnyn. A long time coming, this year’s Christmas operetta is a German premiere. Dschainah, The Girl from the Dance Hall by Paul Abraham will be heard for the first time in Berlin 84 years after its world premiere in Vienna. The chanson evening If only I was a chicken! also goes back to the 1920s and 30s – with Annie Sofie von Otter and Wolfram Koch, who after a nearly two year delay will experience his world premiere. Verdi’s La traviata tells a heart-breaking love story – newly interpreted for the 21st century by Nicola Raab. For our youngest guests the opera house will be presenting the world premiere of a brand new children’s opera based on Michael Ende’s world-famous book Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver.

Jim Knopf and
Lukas the Engine Driver

In the concert trilogy Refugees, which runs during the entire season, musicians with varying backgrounds speak about immigrating, emigrating and settling down. In 2020 the Komische Oper Festival, the traditional closing of the season, will last a whole ten days. It will be centered around a symposium on the latest developments in 21st century opera production esthetics and reception.

After a long break, Barrie Kosky’s acclaimed production of Verdi’s Rigoletto will make a reappearance under the direction of General Music Director Ainārs Rubiķis. Following a brief pause, Jewgeni Onegin,Pelléas et Mélisande, Semele and Don Giovanni are back on the program. Well-received productions from this season such as The Pearls of Cleopatra, The Magic Flute, The Fiddler on the Roof, Candide, La Bohème, The Wizard of Oz and A woman who knows what she wants! will also be playing, as well as Roxy and her Dream Team with the Geschwister Pfister (premiere on May 31, 2019).

General Music Director Ainārs Rubiķis will be conducting four of the seven symphony concerts in the 2019/20 season and will have the honor of greeting the musicians Arabella Steinbacher, Isabelle Faust, Daniel Hope and Tzimon Barto, among others. Fazıl Say is back as a guest for the first concert of the season, this time with musical companions under the direction of First Kapellmeister Jordan de Souza. Guest conductors for the season are Alondra de la Parra and Clemens Schuldt; additional soloists are Jan Vogler and Christian Tetzlaff.
 
The concert program will be rounded off with special concerts, the chamber and evening concert series, and two programs with Barrie Kosky on piano. Together with Katharine Mehrling he will present a special evening with songs and chansons by Kurt Weill, entitled Lonely House. In addition, the celebrated program Farges mikh nit with Yiddish operetta songs is back – interpreted by the singers Alma Sadé and Helene Schneiderman.

When thinking of great Czech composers, Smetana, Dvořák and Janáček are usually the names that come to mind. This Slavic musical tradition was continued into the 20th century – albeit with drastic ruptures that caused many works and composers to fall into oblivion. One of these was Jaromír Weinberger.

With his people’s opera Schwanda the Bagpiper, which premiered in Prague in 1927, Weinberger became an overnight success. Up until 1933 the opera was staged thousands of times across the world. Thus the premiere of his operetta Spring Storms was awaited with great excitement at the Berlin Admiralspalast. Until March 1933, the work was still being performed – when, all of a sudden, the curtain fell permanently on the »last operetta of the Weimer Republic« and its Jewish composer. Weinberger fled Nazi persecution to the United States where, forgotten and alone, he took his life in 1967.

This season, on the occasion of presenting two masterpieces from Weinberger’s oeuvre– the worldwide success Schwanda the Bagpiper, and the newly reconstructed Spring Storms –, the Komische Oper Berlin is dedicating a weekend to this exceptional composer in order to bring his work back to the stage and allow his music to be heard again. The performances will be supplemented with an operetta medley, two chamber concerts, and a small symposium where scholars in the fields of musicology and theater studies will explore together with the audience the various facets of the Jewish-Czech composer.
Refugees – the most widely discussed topic in politics will become the site for diverse musical encounters at the Komische Oper Berlin. In three concerts, musicians with a wide variety of backgrounds, both coming from and living in various countries, will share with stories and music their respective paths in life – from escaping Nazi Germany, to migration within Germany in the second half of the 20th century, to the movement of refugees in the summer of 2015. Audience members and musicians will perform a change in perspective, joining each other on stage at the Komische Oper Berlin, lending their voices and ears to the unheard and unvoiced fates beyond the all too familiar political positions.
10 days of opera for all the senses! Missed a few premieres this season? Looking for a special opera event that speaks to all the senses? As in previous seasons, the Komische Oper Berlin will be presenting the entire range of its new productions at the end of this season in the Komische Oper Festival. This year’s very special event context will address the eyes, the ears, the palate and the mind. Every evening the public can expect music in the foyer, drinks on arrival, thought-provoking introductory lectures, and exciting discussions with contributing artists following each performance. For everyone who didn’t get enough new productions or festival spirit in previous years, this year the festival will be extended to ten whole days! For anyone who still needs more food for thought after the lectures and discussions, the symposium At the Crossroads! Opera Production in the 21st Century taking place during the day will provide more opportunities for thought and reflection.

Through children’s operas and concerts and the Operndolmuş, the Komische Oper Jung and the intercultural project »Selam Opera!« continue their successful work. Projects include the welcome class project Peter and the Wolf, the cultural education project »Jobs@Opera« and the »Pop-up-Opera«. Every year around 45,000 children and youths from all communities in Berlin and Brandenburg come to visit showings at the Komische Oper Berlin. The percentage of adult visitors with an immigration background is about 10%.
The official presale begins on April 24 – at the opera counter in Unter den Linden 41 from 11:00 to 19:00, by telephone under (030) 47 99 74 00, and of course online here. Enjoy the next season at the Komische Oper Berlin!