sit at the front for a year
opera and ballets for 10 €
concerts for 8 €
all advantages for 15 € per year
All other info here

Interview with Michael Wendeberg
INFEKTION! – the title of the 7th edition of this 3-week-long Festival for New Musical Theatre, which runs from 25th June to 14th July at the Staatsoper im Schiller Theater, may smack of hospitals and yellow hazardous-substances signs, but it would be wrong to make that association. The bug being caught here is a positive one, and the fever is for operas that are no older than the audience’s own parents. And with almost six weeks to go before the festival opens, the contagion at the Staatsoper is already palpable. Intensive preparations are well underway. Conductor and pianist Michael Wendeberg is musical director for the opening performance in the Werkstatt. From 25th June onwards Aribert Reimann’s “The Ghost Sonata” is on the programme. Michael Wendeberg, what stage have you reached in the artistic work in progress?

There have been some initial conversations with the stage director, so I know roughly where we’re heading from a staging point of view. And the first rehearsals with the ensemble were this week. It’s a huge job singing this role with the required precision. Aribert Reimann evidently had a strong aversion to “helpful” clues given by the orchestra. The singers have to find out indirectly, from what came before, which tone to hit when they come in and then to time their entrance asymmetrically to the orchestra. It’s not easy. But it works, and the piece is really well written for voices. It’s just that it uses pretty extreme tools to do it. I’m grateful to have great, committed singers at my disposal.

You spent some considerable time as a pianist at the Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris, but then you directed and played a lot of material from the classical repertoire. What interests you more – classical or contemporary music?

Above all else, I want to do both. When I’m playing a lot of earlier music, I need newer material – and vice-versa. I’ve got a secure post at the Halle opera and they do both, and I’m loving it. The Intercontemporain was my first job after finishing college. Boulez was there, Kurtág, and a bunch of others. If you stay there for life, you end up with a New Music sign stamped on your forehead. But then, when I began to get a taste for conducting, I realised I didn’t want to be working only with New Music. So I started doing a lot of stuff with opera houses.

You didn’t want to be saddled with the New Music tag?

Not to the exclusion of other styles.

And how did the decision to direct come about?

Oh, I had a lot of contact with conductors - good and bad, obviously. It gradually occurred to me that I might try my hand myself.

When you start researching the "Ghost Sonata" by Aribert Reimann, the first thing you learn is that it’s based on the play of the same name by August Strindberg. Strindberg was a passionate Beethoven admirer and he himself was always making a connection between his play and Beethoven’s “Tempest Sonata”. So does Aribert Reimann combine new and classical music in his chamber opera?

Well, Strindberg was inspired to write a play, which is a dramatic genre.

Interview: Renske Steen
(c) Michael Seum