Welcome to the 23/24 season
Dear audience, the 2023/24 season at the Opernhaus Zürich represents a new start for the Ballett Zürich. Cathy Marston will take over as new Ballet Director, and in her first season is full of new ideas and new faces.
Every season, the Opernhaus Zürich program is characterized by a wide range of repertoire, casts, and artistic styles across its nine opera premieres, four ballet premieres, 22 attractively cast revivals, and countless concerts. Alongside Wagner’s Ring des Nibelungen, a project that has been in the works for two years and will now be presented twice as a complete cycle, the Opernhaus will also complete a Monteverdi cycle, present the Swiss premiere of a Puccini opera, and take an intense look at operetta, in the form of a new production by Barrie Kosky, and at contemporary opera, in the form of the sound-space experience Amerika by Roman Haubenstock-Ramati. The Opernhaus Zürich will present Bizet’s Carmen in a cooperation with the Opéra Comique in Paris. As with the Ring, Intendant Andreas Homoki and General Music Director Gianandrea Noseda will collaborate here. Fans of exceptional vocal performances can look forward to prominent singers such as Cecilia Bartoli, Bryn Terfel, Anja Harteros, Klaus Florian Vogt, Camilla Nylund, Piotr Beczała, Marlis Petersen, Michael Volle, Tatiana Serjan, Benjamin Bernheim, and Diana Damrau during the 2023/24 season.
Advanced ticket sales
The official advance sale for single tickets of the 23/24 season starts on June 17, 2023. Already on June 10, the exclusive advance sale for shareholders, opera friends and subscribers starts, for more information click here.
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Wagner's «Der Ring des Nibelungen» Finale and Cycles
The focus of the upcoming season is the completion of Richard Wagner’s Ring des Nibelungen. For three seasons, General Music Director Gianandrea Noseda and Intendant Andreas Homoki have been forging this new Ring for Zurich. Back to the source is one of Andreas Homoki’s conceptual leitmotifs for this monumental work, which tells of nothing less than the creation and destruction of a world. The production zooms in on the characters from the Ring – the gods, the people, and the fantastical creatures – clarifying motivations and relationships between characters through precise portrayals.
All four parts are unified dramatically and interpreted with gripping musical readings, with a lauded cast of singers. The Ring will close with the Götterdämmerung in November 2023. The complete Ring will be presented twice as a cycle in May 2024, featuring the Wagnerian voices from the individual premieres: Camilla Nylund is Brünnhilde, Klaus Florian Vogt sings Siegfried, Tomasz Konieczny sings Wotan, Christopher Purves is Alberich, and Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke is Mime.
The Opernhaus Zürich will present a wide-ranging supporting program alongside the cyclical Ring performances. Swiss artist Ruth Stofer’s video installation will trace a path that follows Richard Wagner’s music in movies. In Beziehungszauber the dense network of leitmotifs and their meaning is illustrated on both a musical and a psychological-philosophical level. After the Das Rheingold premiere in April 2022, entertainer Harald Schmidt brought his new talk show Hinterm Vorhang to the Opernhaus. He now returns to Zurich for the complete Ring cycle.
French Repertoire with Bizet's «Carmen»
Acting as a counterpoint to Richard Wagner in the 2023/24 season is Georges Bizet’s Carmen, itself an operatic myth. The audience at the 1875 world premiere at the Opéra Comique in Paris initially rejected the opera, calling Bizet’s creation too garish and immoral. It’s at this moment in time that stage director Andreas Homoki sets his interpretation. In his work – which is a cooperation with the Opéra Comique – he places the work’s timeless elements in a concrete theatrical context. At his side is General Music Director Gianandrea Noseda, who will show Zurich a new side to his interpretive skills in the French repertoire. Debuting as Carmen is rising star Marina Viotti, the Lausanne-born mezzo-soprano. Audiences can look forward to the two men at her side: Saimir Pirgu as Don José and Łukasz Goliński as Escamillo.
The new production will be presented as a live broadcast in June 2024 for the oper für alle event on the Sechseläutenplatz.
Rare Works from Verdi and Puccini
Works by Verdi and Puccini are the cornerstones of a repertory house’s programming. But due to the limited number of new productions they offer, very few houses in the world manage to present their lesser-known works. In the coming season, two rare gems from these operatic masters will premiere in Zurich.
It’s hard to believe, but the season-opening premiere of La rondine will also be the Swiss premiere of this Puccini opera. It is a fusion of classic opera and operetta, written during the First World War. The new production features a glittering cast of the highest order, including Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho as Magda and former Zurich ensemble member and current superstar tenor Benjamin Bernheim as Ruggero. At the podium of the Philharmonia Zürich is Marco Armiliato, a proven connoisseur of this filigree score and its symphonic ambitions. Christof Loy, whose subtle production style has repeatedly pleased Zurich audiences, will direct for the stage.
As is to be expected from the masterful Giuseppe Verdi, the rarely-heard I vespri siciliani doesn’t focus on the opera’s historical setting, but instead closely examines the interpersonal relationships therein. Maria Agresta and Quinn Kelsey sing the principal roles in this tragic love story set amid the milieu of Sicilian resistance fighters. Croatian conductor Ivan Repušić debuts with the Philharmonia Zürich, and the opera is directed for the stage by Calixto Bieito.
Baroque Opera: A New Rameau and the Completion of a Monteverdi Cycle
One of the Opernhaus Zürich’s programmatic agendas is the preservation and promotion of Baroque repertoire. The 2023/24 season features two premieres in this series on its program: French conductor Emmanuelle Haïm and Dutch stage director Jetske Mijnssen present Platée, following up on their successful Hippolyte et Aricie production from four years ago with a second collaboration on a Jean-Philippe Rameau opera for Zurich. This experimental piece, which resides somewhere between opera and «ballet bouffon», is one of the most unusual works from the Baroque period. For this new production, Mathias Vidal, a French tenor at home in Baroque music, appears as Platée, and the fiery coloratura role of La Folie will be sung by English soprano Mary Bevan.
Claudio Monteverdi’s operas have been part of the Opernhaus Zürich’s DNA since Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s time here at the end of the ‘70s, when his cycle of the Italian composer’s works garnered international attention and renewed interest in Monteverdi’s compositions. Andreas Homoki’s leadership goals include presenting all of Monteverdi’s operas in new stage-musical readings. With this new production of L’Orfeo, the cycle – made up of the three musical-dramatic works and expanded by Christian Spuck’s choreographic examination of the Madrigals, Book 8 – is completed.
Italian conductor and harpsichordist Ottavio Dantone returns to musically direct. Stage director Evgeny Titov, who is equally at home in the playhouse as he is in the opera, will also make his Opernhaus Zürich debut in a few weeks with George Benjamin’s contemporary opera Lessons in Love and Violence.
Contemporary Opera: Haubenstock-Ramati and Britten
Following Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Soldaten, Wolfgang Rihm’s Hamletmaschine, Heinz Holliger’s Lunea, and Helmut Lachenmann’s Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern the Opernhaus continues its series of exceptional works of contemporary musical-theatrical concepts.
After the coronavirus thwarted its planned premiere two years ago, Amerika, the sound-space experience that challenges all of the senses by Polish-Israeli composer Roman Haubenstock-Ramati, will finally open. With this new production in Zurich, the work will experience only its third presentation ever since its world premiere in 1966. This music theater sketch that challenges the senses is based on Franz Kafka’s unfinished novel of the same name. The work is one of the landmarks of 20th century opera composition. Sebastian Baumgarten and Gabriel Feltz will lead as stage direction and musical director, respectively, for this musical adventure.
Swiss composer and oboist Heinz Holliger maintained a close friendship with the composer. Together with the Gringolts Quartet, he’ll lead a discussion concert of compositions by Haubenstock-Ramati right before the premiere.
Shakespeare demonstrated that the theater is a place for dreams in his Midsummer Night’s Dream, perhaps here more than in any of his other works. Composer Benjamin Britten, whose operas often played with the idea of the unconscious, the repressed, and the forbidden, focused on the shadowy side of humankind in his chamber opera A Midsummer Night's Dream. The singers of the International Opernstudio bring this work, which premiered in 1960, to the stage of the Theater Winterthur. The Musikkollegium Winterthur plays under the direction of Duncan Ward. The production is staged by Rainer Holzapfel.
Operetta: Barrie Kosky directs
Reinterpreting operetta as a form of music theater for the present day is of great importance for Intendant Andreas Homoki. One director whose original, effective approach to the genre is unmatched is Barrie Kosky. In the coming season, he’ll bring Die lustige Witwe to the main stage in Zurich. When Franz Lehár’s work first saw the light of day at the dawn of the 20th century, it set off a global case of operetta fever. Marlis Petersen and Michael Volle, two superb vocal and dramatic personalities, will sing the central roles. At the helm of the Philharmonia Zürich is the talented young Austrian conductor Patrick Hahn.
Alongside numerous new productions, the Opernhaus program features 18 meticulously studied and fetchingly cast revival productions. Fans of extraordinary vocal performances can look forward to prominent guests as a part of the 2023/24 season, many of whom are regulars at the Opernhaus Zürich.
First among them is Cecilia Bartoli in the title role in Rossini’s opera L’italiana in Algeri. Nicola Alaimo and Edgardo Rocha, both impressively virtuosic Rossini interpreters, are at her side. Benjamin Bernheim appears in Jules Massenet’s Werther, to sing one of the most beautiful and expressive tenor roles in the French Repertoire. The internationally sought-after soprano Golda Schultz debuts the role of Donna Anna in the visually powerful, garishly-colored production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni.
Also back is Barrie Kosky’s radically reduced Macbeth, which was praised by the Neue Zürcher Zeitung as an «aesthetic milestone in the work’s history». This year’s series of performances brings a reunion with the great Tatiana Serjan, who bowed in the role of Lady Macbeth at the premiere, and George Petean as Macbeth. Alongside the new production of Die lustige Witwe are two further operetta classics. Annette Dasch sings the variety artist Silva Varescu in Emmerich Kálmáns Csárdásfürstin. Pavol Breslik as the prince’s son Edwin tries to win her hand. At the helm is Swiss conductor Lorenzo Viotti, who also led the premiere. Piotr Beczała joins for the Zurich revival of Franz Lehár’s Das Land des Lächelns, singing «Dein ist mein ganzes Herz». Julia Kleiter is his beloved. Both are ideally cast for this challenging genre. The revival of the production of musical-cum-opera Sweeney Todd by Stephen Sondheim brings Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel as the deeply-wounded, bloodthirsty barber back. His partner in crime is the pie-baking Mrs. Lovett, who will once again be sung by Austrian mezzo-soprano Angelika Kirchschlager.
A new era begins for the Ballet Zürich with Cathy Marston as the new Ballet Director. Her first season is characterized by the dynamic range of international artists as well as the combination of new creations with masterpieces from the past. Inspired by her love for literature, Marston’s first creation for Ballett Zürich will be the full-length world premiere of Atonement. Internationally regarded as classic of contemporary literature, Ian McEwan’s novel of the same name will be the base of this major new narrative ballet, with a specially commissioned score from British composer, Laura Rossi, for Philharmonia Zürich.
For the ballet season's opening premiere in October 2023, Walkways, Jerome Robbins and Wayne MacGregor are presented the Zurich Opernhaus stage for only the second time in history. Marston combines their signature works – Glass Pieces and Infra respectively - with the Swiss premiere of her own Swowblind, created for San Francisco Ballet in 2018.
In Timekeepers the new ballet director invites two choreographers who have never before been presented by Ballett Zurich - Meryl Tankard and Andrea Miller, each choreographing to key musical works from 1923/24. By presenting these creations alongside a reconstruction of the legendary Bronislava Nijinska’s hundred-year-old masterpiece, Les Noces, Ballett Zürich celebrates the centenary of monumental choreographic and musical works of the 20th century, whilst simultaneously looking towards the future.
Further revivals bring the return of Christian Spuck’s Messa da Requiem and Nachtträume by Marcos Morau, two Ballett Zürich audience favorites, alongside the soon-to-premiere work of Cathy Marston – The Cellist.
ZURICH TALKS DANCE
Zurich’s major dance institutions come together for the first time for a project bearing the title ZURICH TALKS DANCE, which offers enthusiasts deeper insights into this multifaceted stage art form. This new joint venture is a collaboration between Ballett Zürich, the BA/MA dance program of the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste (ZHdK), the Tanz Akademie Zürich (TaZ), and the Tanzhaus Zürich. The renowned Palucca Hochschule für Tanz Dresden will participate as an international partner. A variety of discussion formats will offer the opportunity for open exchange about artistic, professional, and pedagogical issues in the ballet world as well as insights for the general public into the art form of dance.
Concert Performances, Concerts, and Song Recitals
The Opernhaus continues its series of concert performances with Umberto Giordano’s Andrea Chénier. After successful appearances as Maddalena in Vienna and Berlin, Anja Harteros brings her interpretation of the role to the Opernhaus Zürich. Under the musical direction of Marco Armiliato, she appears alongside internationally renowned tenor Yonghoon Lee. At the center of this gripping revolutionary drama is the historical figure of the young poet Andrea Chénier, who fell victim to the guillotine just three days before Robespierre’s execution in 1794.
The 2023/24 season’s philharmonic concerts combine greats from the symphonic repertoire with unusual artist encounters, surprising forays into the repertoire, and world-class soloists. The interpretive core of the series is General Music Director Gianandrea Noseda, who will conduct the Philharmonia Zürich in three of the seven concerts. To celebrate Sergei Rachmaninoff’s 150th birthday, we’ll continue our artistic exchange with the Tonhalle-Orchester in November as Noseda conducts the Tonhalle-Orchester and Paavo Järvi the Philharmonia Zürich. Both concerts feature Swiss pianist Francesco Piemontesi. For the first time appearing as a guest at the Opernhaus Zürich is cellist Sol Gabetta. Together with conductor Krzysztof Urbański, she’ll perform Witold Lutosławski’s Cello Concerto. Also returning to the Opernhaus are renowned violinist Augustin Hadelich with Antonín Dvořák's Violin Concerto and star soprano Diana Damrau with songs and opera scenes by Richard Strauss.
The Opernhaus’ own ensemble for historically informed performance practice, the Orchestra La Scintilla, will offer an exciting program together with their artistic director Riccardo Minasi. One highlight will be a concert with compositions from the early 19th century: alongside the two Ring cycles, Minasi will conduct works by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Wagner, presented on historic instruments and featuring violinist Ilya Gringolts as a soloist.
Kristian Bezuidenhout, one of the most striking pianists working with historic instruments, will interpret piano concertos by Mozart. And harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani returns with a Bach program.
Song recitals – with star soloists such as Simon Keenlyside, Javier Camarena, Erwin Schrott, Rosa Feola, Anita Rachvelishvili, and Piotr Beczała – are sure to please fans of the vocal arts in the 2023/24 season.
Opernhaus Jung and Extras
Alongside a multitude of workshops, courses, vacation programs for children and adolescents that are on offer every year, as well as a music theater production for children on the Studiobühne, the Opernhaus presents a new family opera on the main stage every fall. In November 2023 that premiere will be the debut of one of the most beloved children’s books of all time, Michael Ende’s Jim Knopf und Lukas der Lokomotivführer, as an opera. The story has been adapted for television, film, podcasts, and the theater over the last 60 years. And now it’s been adapted for the operatic stage: Uzbek-Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin took Ende’s work and created a family opera that world premiered to rave reviews at the Komische Oper Berlin in 2019. The story’s assembly of half-dragons and dragons, desert vultures, and Emma the locomotive are perfect for stage director Kai Anne Schuhmacher, who brings them to life with a team of puppeteers and the Opernhaus ensemble in a magical, visually striking show.
The season kicks off with a traditional opening. On 16 September 2023 the doors of the auditorium, the workshops, backstage, and the studios will open wide. It’s a day for children, young people and adults, for opera connoisseurs, ballet fans and newbies. And the grand open-air event oper für alle returns toward the end of the season. On 15 June 2024 the Opernhaus Zürich will broadcast Georges Bizet’s Carmen with Marina Viotti and Saimir Pirgu in the principal roles, live on the Sechseläutenplatz in front of the Opernhaus. Some 12,000 visitors will bask in the joy of summer from their folding chairs and blankets as they take in this story of disappointed love that ends in murder.
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