Tag Archives: music drama

Collaborative Creation of New Operas

Maria SundqvistCreating a new opera is a complex process that requires a myriad of factors to be taken into account. In cases where there is a composer and a librettist, striking a balance and finding a productive way to collaborate towards creating an important work can be a challenge. Maria Sundqvist has substantial experience, both as a part of this intimate collaborative process, and as an enabler for others. Maria will at Operastorming #1 focus on this sometimes-complex collaborative relationship between composer and librettist.

Maria Sundqvist is Artistic Director of Operaverkstan (the Opera Laboratorium of the Malmö Opera), where she has, since its founding in 2002, developed ten new operas.

Maria possesses a wide experience from directing opera productions in various formats, as well as from extensive libretto writing, collaborating with composers on twenty different operas. Maria has furthermore processed adaptations of older existing operas.

We look forward to  Maria Sunqvist’s insights next week!

Opera on!

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Creative Honesty in New Opera

Annilese Miskimmon,  the new energetic  General Manager and Artistic Director of the Danish National Opera (Jyske Opera) in Aarhus will at Operastorming be exploring the  notion of Creative Honesty- between and among all the partnerships involved in new opera- audience, composer, librettist, artists, producer, funders and companies.
 Annilese will also dig  into the role of opera in ‘speaking truth to power’. nicky&annilese-serious
Annilese Miskimmon was born in Belfast. She gained a MA (Cantab) in English Literature from Christ’s College, Cambridge and graduated in Arts Management from City University at the Barbican, London. Glyndebourne Festival and Tour appointed her Consultant Associate Director from 2002 to 2005, and in 2005 she became Artistic Director of Opera
Theatre Company, the national touring opera of Ireland. In April 2012 she was appointed General Manager/Artistic Director designate of Danish National Opera.
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Kerstin Perski Knows Why Writing a Decent Libretto is Notoriously Difficult

Kerstin PerskiOne of the experienced opera creators who will be with us at Operastroming #1 is the dramatist, librettist and author Kerstin Perski .  She has in the last fifteen years worked extensively with music drama and written several opera-libretti. Her most notable operatic works to date are librettos for  Hans Gefors’s “Cry wolf” (a german version was premiered in Lübeck in 2002 under the name “Der Wolf kommt”), Paula af Malmborg Ward’s “Operation Love” and “The scar” (The latter, based freely on the story ”The heart of a dog” by Michail Bulgakov), Karin Rehnqvist’s “The beauty school – a horror opera from the age of 10” , which has been staged in Scandinavia and by several German houses (Mannheim opera in 2003, Braunschweig in 2005, Hannover 2012). In 2007,  the Jyske Opera’s production of “Confessions”  (composer: Niels Marthinsen/ librettist: Kerstin Perski), received the prestigious Danish Reumert price for opera of the year. Among Karin Perski’s upcoming work is the libretto for “Wave of fire”, a new opera by  composer Karin Rehnqvist, commissioned by the Royal Opera in Stockholm,   a libretto based on Alfred Hitchcock’s  classic 1946 film Notorious!”, for composer  Hans Gefors (the opera will have its world premiere at the Gothenburg opera in 2015), as well as a libretto for the Vadstena Academy with the working title “The Son of Heaven”.

Kerstin has a lot on her mind when it comes to libretto writing, collaborations with composers and the intricacies of the creative process. We look especially forward to her contribution on April 18th!

Opera on!

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The Essence of a Living Art Form

Operasje Per Boye HansenPer Boye Hansen, artistic director of the Norwegian National Opera in Oslo, is a force to be reckoned with.  Not only  does he have great ambitions to consolidate the Norwegian Opera’s position as a bright star in the galaxy of world class opera, he is also giving Nordic opera a welcome vitamin boost by putting greater focus on new work. Starting with the 2014 premiere of a new opera based on the material of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt by Estonian composer Jüri Reinvere (who will also be with us at Operastorming #1) the Norwegian National Opera will present a new work every season. And to get the opera innovation juices flowing even further, he and Michael Boder (another Operastorming key contributor)  have a Nordic Biennale for new work in the pipeline.

When asked in an interview last year about the importance of new repertoire, this is one of the things he had to say: “It is indeed very important to develop new repertoire. This is the essence of a living art form”. At Operastorming #1 he will dig deeper into this notion and share his insights on an array of relevant topics, including the creative process and the frameworks needed to support it.

Opera on!

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Revolution in Music Through Theatre

boderIn a year 2000 interview with the Musikverein Monatszeitung, the conductor Michael Boder, a great champion of new music,  discusses the state of contemporary opera and voices concerns over the overemphasis on historical praxis and that too much obsessing with the past might divert attention from new developments.

When asked if this extreme interest in the old isn’t just a manifestation of the shortcomings of new music and the hermetic isolated position it has created for itself, Boder answers that one of the major problems, in his view, is that when the Viennese School (Wiener Schule) emerged, a gradual disconnection from the theatre took place. This was an actual problem because it was in fact “the theatre that had for hundreds of years served as the motor of many musical innovations”. Boder then prompts us to think about Gluck, Mozart and Wagner, and observe the continuous line that clearly points to the certain fact that “more than half of the true revolutions in music happened in the realm of the theatre”. Boder further points out that “the very moment when they disconnected from the theatre and withdrew themselves to small sophisticated circles, they also managed to alienate the audience to some degree. And to this day we struggle to overcome this problem”.

In the interview Boder further emphasizes the importance of new music theatre works (neuen Musiktheaterwerken) finding their way to the audience, the fact that “the big opera houses just don’t produce enough new stuff” and points out the simple statistic of repertoire development: “When 80, 90, years ago, ten premieres of new work came out in a year, one work remained (in the repertoire). But when you just produce one new work a year, it can easily happen that this one work does not survive (in the repertoire)”

For those of you who want to read this interesting interview here is the full version (in german).

We look forward to taking up these themes in a Nordic context with Michael Boder at Operastorming #1, and hear what he thinks about the developments that have taken place in the little over a decade that has passed since this interview.

Michael Boder is as of the season 2012/2013 the Principal Conductor and  Artistic advisor of the Royal Danish Theatre and Orchestra.

Michael Boders full biography at Intermusica.

(Fragments translated by A.Danielsen)

(Photo:  Intermusica/Alexander Vasiljev)

A.D.

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Figuring Out Nordic Opera

Within a time span ranging from August 2007 until June 2013 we have 773 productions, in 34 cities in the Nordic countries. Out of the 773 productions 38 are world premieres of new operas. Only 12 are produced by the major national opera companies, and then rarely on the main stage.

Of course we have to take into account that the economic crisis of 2008 put a major dent in the budgets of many of the opera houses, but still the development has not deviated dramatically from that of the previous decade.

Not surprisingly, the Nordic composer whose work is most frequently performed worldwide is Kaija Saariaho. Looking at production frequency Saariaho ranks no. 1 among female composers,  she is no. 15 on the list of living composers and comes in at place 96 on the current top 100 list of opera composers, dead or alive. (statistics source: Operabase).

A new opera by Saariaho is scheduled to premiere at ROH Covent Garden in 2020, part of something one can surely call a new opera extravaganza by today’s standards, as four new operas will premiere at Covent Garden in 2020, a culminating point of Tony Pappano and Kasper Holtens strong emphasis on the development of new work over the coming years.

Here a very interesting interview with Saariaho and images from the 2010 Vlaamse Opera production of  L´Amour de loin (Love from Afar). Again presented at the Canadian Opera in 2012.

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