Grand opera despite Corona. Welcome to a very special season!
In this very special season, we will be presenting grand opera despite corona measures, and all performances will take place as planned. Born of the resolute determination to present music theater in its full range – despite distance and hygiene rules – we developed a completely new performance model for the Opernhaus. With this model, the full orchestra and choir will be transmitted live from an external rehearsal hall to the Opernhaus, supporting the vocal soloists on stage, all in compliance with distancing measures. With the help of one of the most modern sound systems in the world, vocals, orchestra and surround sound are blended into one unit, making the grand opera experience possible once again.
Ten opera premieres and three premieres by the Ballett Zürich will take to the main stage, joining fifteen opera revivals and three ballet revivals to form the 2O2O/21 season. In addition there will be a premiere by the International Opernstudio and one by the Junior Ballett at the Theater Winterthur, a concert performance of an opera, a new children’s work on the Studiobühne, nine concerts featuring the Philharmonia Zürich and the specialty ensemble Orchestra La Scintilla, seven voice recitals with vocal superstars, the traditional Opera Ball, and «oper für alle» in June 2021.
This extraordinary season of premieres starts on 20 September with an operatic heavyweight. The cast of Modest Mussorgsky’s «Boris Godunow» will be led by Michael Volle, following up on the heels of his successful turn in Nabucco with another important role debut in Zurich. Director Regisseur Barrie Kosky returns to lead another season opener. Together with Ukrainian conductor Kirill Karabits, they will bring their grand vision to the Zurich stage.
We are pleased that we will present an additional premiere this season: the new production of the operetta «Die Csárdásfürstin» by Emmerich Kálmáns. The premiere was originally planned for April 2020, and will take the stage on Friday 25 September. Director Jan Philipp Gloger will join Annette Dasch and Pavol Breslik on a trip through this popular mainstay of the operetta repertoire.
In November 2020 theater and opera director David Marton will present a Film and Opera Project based on Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s little-heard Baroque work «L’Olimpiade» for the first time in Switzerland. Vivica Genaux and Anna Bonitatibus lead a star-studded ensemble. No conductor has conducted more Pergolesi operas than Ottavio Dantone, who will lead the Orchestra La Scintilla.
The Opernhaus will present the world premiere of a family opera in November 2020, with the commissioned work «Alice im Wunderland». Italian composer Pierangelo Valtinoni, who is already know at the Opernhaus Zürich for his composition of the «Zauberer von Oz», took on the absurd tale by Lewis Carroll, and created a fairytale opera for children aged seven and older. It will be directed for the stage by Nadja Loschky, who showed her knack for music theater for children in her recent production of «Schatzinsel».
The works of Giuseppe Verdi form a pillar of Zurich’s repertoire. «Simon Boccanegra» will premiere in December 2020, and will be led by Andreas Homoki and Fabio Luisi. Internationally renowned baritone Christian Gerhaher returns for another titular role debut, following star turns in Alban Berg’s «Wozzeck» and Heinz Holliger’s «Lenau».
After the successful production of «Iphigénie en Tauride» in the current season, a further work by composer Christoph Willibald Gluck is set to take the stage in the next. «Orphée et Euridice» marks Christoph Marthaler and Anna Viebrock’s return to Zurich in January 2021. The production is their third collaboration as director and set designer at the Opernhaus Zürich. Stefano Montanari, one of the most fascinating conductors and Baroque violinists of his generation, will lead the Orchestra La Scintilla.
In March 2021 the spatial sound experience «Amerika» by Polish-Israeli composer Roman Haubenstock-Ramati will be staged for the third time since its world premiere in 1966. This clever music theater idea, based on Franz Kafka’s uncompleted novel of the same name, is one of the landmarks of 20th century opera composition and is a work of legendary status. Sebastian Baumgarten will direct for the stage and Gabriel Feltz will musically direct this musical adventure.
Jacques Offenbach’s last opera, «Les Contes d’Hoffmann», is a union of operetta, opéra comique, and romantic-fantasy opera. Tenor Saimir Pirgu makes a role debut as the poet Hoffmann, who vacillates between fantasy and reality, embodied by four women and four enemies. Andreas Homoki will direct this premiere, which will take the stage in April 2021. At the podium of the Philharmonia Zürich is Italian conductor Antonino Fogliani.
For the premiere of Richard Strauss´ «Capriccio» in May 2021, led by director Christof Loy. After a successful debut as Arabella, Julia Kleiter returns to the Opernhaus Zürich as Gräfin Madeleine. At her side are Christof Fischesser, Markus Eiche, and Paula Murrihy, among others. Markus Poschner conducts this coproduction with the Teatro Real Madrid.
With «Viva la mamma», a completely different work by Donizetti, the young singers of the International Opernstudio will showcase themselves at the Theater Winterthur. The show will premiere in May 2021 under the stage direction of young Swiss director Melanie Huber and the musical director of Carrie-Ann Matheson.
A new «Lucia di Lammermoor» will take the stage starting in June 2021. American soprano Lisette Oropesa was secured to sing the wildly challenging title role. She has already thrilled audiences as Lucia at the Royal Opera House London and at the Teatro Real in Madrid. Appearing as her beloved Edgardo is Piotr Beczała, making his return to the Opernhaus. Stage director Tatjana Gürbaca and conductor Speranza Scapucci lead the artistic team for this most tragic of Donizetti operas.
Further highlights at the Opernhaus Zürich include numerous revivals featuring audience favorites, familiar voices, and new faces.
The premiere of Verdi’s «I vespri siciliani», which was planned for June 2020, had to be canceled. Its revival date of 22 September will be replaced by a Verdi-Gala under the direction of Fabio Luisi. Maria Agresta, Bryan Hymel, Quinn Kelsey, Alexander Vinogradov will present arias and scenes from «I vespri siciliani», «Il trovatore», «Rigoletto», «Otello», and other Verdi operas.
Diana Damrau returns in the in 20/21 season as the Scottish queen Maria Stuarda, and Salome Jicia is her rival Elisabetta. Cecilia Bartoli returns as Alcina. Angelika Kirchschlager and Bryn Terfel take the stage in the bloody musical «Sweeney Todd». Erwin Schrott will be back after many years, appearing in «L´elisir d´amore». Vannina Santoni makes her house debut as Manon, while Benjamin Bernheim takes the stage as the Chevalier des Grieux, a role that brought him enthusiastic praise in Paris. Lawrence Brownlee is Arturo Talbo in «I puritani». Stéphanie d´Oustrac appears for the first time in Zurich as Charlotte and Charles Castronovo is her Werther. Christopher Ventris returns as Paul Ackermann and Doris Soffel is the Widow Begbick in Kurt Weill’s «Mahagonny». In addition, Aigul Akhmetshina appears in Zurich for the first time, singing Rosina in «Il barbiere di Siviglia», and Ana María Martínez will likewise make her Zurich debut singing Cio-Cio-San. At her side is Saimir Pirgu as her unfaithful lover Pinkerton. Marcelo Álvarez will debut as Don Carlo. Ekaterina Semenchuck (Eboli), Tatiana Serjan (Elisabetta), Vitalij Kowaljow (Filippo) and Simon Keenlyside (Rodrigo) round out this exceptional revival cast.
A number of conductors will appear at the podium of the Philharmonia Zürich next season. Fabio Luisi conducts the revival of Massenet’s «Manon». Giovanni Antonini returns to Zurich for Händel’s «Alcina» and Mozart’s «Idomeneo». Enrique Mazzola returns for «Maria Stuarda», as he helms the battle between two queens. Riccardo Minasi conducts all of the Orchestra La Scintilla concerts, as well as revival of Rossini’s «Il viaggio a Reims». And David Charles Abell stays true to Stephen Sondheim’s «Sweeney Todd». Marco Armiliato has Puccini’s «Madama Butterfly» in his hands. Sir Mark Elder will take his place in front of the orchestra for Verdi’s «Don Carlo». The musical director for Tchaikovsky’s «Jewgeni Onegin» is Kirill Karabits, who will also open the season with Mussorgsky’s «Boris Godunow».
The Ballett Zürich opens the 2020/21 ballet season with a choreographic world premiere by Christian Spuck. With «Dornröschen», Christian Spuck once again takes on a ballet classic set to music by Tchaikovsky, following up on his «Nussknacker». The fate of the fairy Carabosse is the central story told in this new production, which Spuck will lead with his trusted costume designer Buki Shiff and set designer Rufus Didwiszus.
Two further world premieres premiere on the program for the three-part «Balcão de Amor»: Norwegian choreographer, Jo Strømgren, the in-house choreographer of the Norwegian National Ballet, makes his debut in Zurich, while dancer and choreographer Louis Stiens from Stuttgart follows up on his successful collaboration with the Junior Ballett. The third work, which lends its name to the evening, «O Balcão de Amor», was premiered in 2016 by Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal. In it, Israeli choreographer Itzik Galili lets the Ballett Zürich dance to the timeless music of Cuban Mambo king Pérez Prado.
«Walking Mad» by Johan Inger, premiered by the Nederlands Dans Theater in 2001 and since then celebrated all over the world, is eponymous for the third new ballet evening. To Maurice Ravel’s famous Boléro, Ballett Zürich is to dance a piece by the Swedish choreographer for the first time. In addition, there will be a reunion with ballet legend Hans van Manen: Ballett Zürich has now added another of the Dutch choreographer’s masterpieces to its repertoire – Kleines Requiem, created for the NDT in 1996 and set to Kleines Requiem für eine Polka op. 66 by Polish composer Henryk Mikolaj Górecki.
The Junior Ballett will present an entire evening of new works with «Impulse». Every two years, the next generation of dancers presents its own evening. Choreographers Bryan Arias, Craig Davidson and Juliano Nunes will develop new pieces for and with the dancers of the Junior Ballett.
Revivals include two choreographies by Christian Spuck: «Winterreise», which won the 2019 «Prix Benois de la Danse», and «Anna Karenina», which will also appear as a guest production in Ludwigsburg. In addition, the Ballett Zürich will travel to Tel Aviv to present «One Flat Thing, reproduced» by William Forsythe, «Emergence» by Crystal Pite, and «Speak for Yourself» by Sol León and Paul Lightfoot. The 20/21 ballet season closes with the revival of the highly acclaimed evening «Forsythe», which features three pioneering pieces by the American choreographer William Forsythe.
The philharmonic seasons opens with Bruckner’s «Nullte» and Beethoven’s «Seventh» led by Markus Poschner. A Sunday matinee concert in December will feature works by Johannes Brahms und Franz Schmidt under the direction of general music director Fabio Luisi, as well as violinist Augustin Hadelich. Luisi will his previously started Beethoven cycle with Italian pianist Beatrice Rana continue in January, and with Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 9 in May 2021 he closes his concert season. Gianandrea Noseda, who will succeed Luisi as General Music Director with the start of the 2021/22 season, gives a preview of his new musical direction with performances of «Ein deutsches Requiem» by Johannes Brahms in February 2021.
The tradition of historically informed performance practice is well and alive at the Opernhaus Zürich, with concerts and operatic performances in the capable hands of in-house ensemble Orchestra La Scintilla and conductor and violinist Riccardo Minasi. Their programs this season focus on Johann Sebastian Bach, his sons Carl Philipp Emanuel, Wilhelm Friedemann, Johann Christoph, and Johann Christian Bach, as well as works by Scarlatti, Rossini, and Donizetti, among others.
The Opernhaus continues its series of concert performances. Rossini’s «La donna del lago» features Karine Deshayes in the demanding title role and Edgardo Rocha as her lover Malcolm. Antonino Fogliani also appears here at the podium of the Philharmonia Zürich.
The 2020/21 season at the Opernhaus Zürich sees a host of stars in intimate song recital settings, including artists such as Anja Harteros, Anita Rachvelishvili, Marina Rebeka, as well as Bryn Terfel, Jonas Kaufmann, Juan Diego Flórez, and Simon Keenlyside.
The Opera Ball will take place on March 13, 2021, and the live broadcast of «Madama Butterfly» with Ana Maria Martinez and Saimir Pirgu in the lead roles is open to one and all as a part of the «oper für alle» festival on the Sechseläutenplatz on June 12, 2021.