The State Academic Bolshoi Theater and the Bavaria Opera (Bayerische Staatsoper) are staging Richard Wagner's opera "The Flying Dutchman." The Bolshoi Theater's music director and chief conductor, Alexander Vedernikov, and Peter Konwitschny, a director who was named the best German director five times, are involved in this work. The opera will premiere on June 20.
Mr. Konwitschny, the son of famous German conductor Franz Konwitschny, is an admirer of Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner. He staged Verdi's operas "Aida," "Falstaff" and "Macbeth" in Graz (Austria) and Wagner's "Lohengrin," "Tristan and Isolde," "Parsifal" and "Twilight of the Gods" in Hamburg, Munich and Stuttgart. The Bolshoi Theater, less acquainted with Wagner's works and following Mr. Vedernikov's motto of active creative evolution, could not have made a better choice for director. Johannes Leiacker, who is creating the costumes and sets for the Moscow premiere, is Konwitschny's permanent coauthor.
The Bolshoi Theater said that this is an exclusive performance. Richard Wagner composed "The Flying Dutchman" in 1841. It is based on 16th century legends about voyages to foreign lands. Mr. Konwitschny interpreted this opera for the first time especially for the Bolshoi Theater. The opera will be shown on the theater's new stage, which was meant for opera and experimental ballet.
Three months before the premiere, Mr. Konwitschny gave lectures on opera at the Bolshoi. According to his philosophy as a director, musical dramas are always intellectual and audacious. "At my performances, spectators are strictly divided into those who are delighted and those who dislike everything. My works cause violent disputes on the Internet," Mr. Konwitschny said.
He said, "Western civilization and traditional theater will fall." In the finale of one of his performances, street cleaners came on stage and swept the singers away. Mr. Konwitschny is fond of adding modern aspects and artistic meaning to classic opera. "We will speak about us, our problems and wishes and the criminal situation in the world," he said about the premiere of "The Flying Dutchman." "We need a dialogue between the old work and contemporary people. Theater emerges if the actors show their own lives through their characters."
Young soloists from the Bolshoi Theater are involved in the new performance. However, experienced Western stars Robert Hale (the Dutchman) and Anna Katharina Behnke (Senta) are the leads.
The Bolshoi Theater has recently cooperated with foreign artists, directors and conductors. For instance, Richard Wagner's "The Flying Dutchman," Sergei Prokofyev's "The Fiery Angel" and Giuseppe Verdi's "Macbeth" were staged by foreigners. Lithuanian Eimuntas Nekrosius staged "Macbeth" in the fall of 2003 and American Francesca Zambello staged "The Fiery Angel" in April 2004.
The premier of Wagner's opera at the Bolshoi Theater will be the highlight of The Year of German Culture in Russia. "The Flying Dutchman" will be shown at the Bavaria State Opera.