When the Viennese opera tradition became too traditional, they stepped in

When the Viennese opera tradition became too traditional, they stepped in
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However, the house concluded an agreement to broadcast new productions, performed in an empty hall. The number of spectators was high, around 500,000 for the first performance. So the State Opera continued, eventually reaching millions.

A big change will come in December, when the State Opera opens a new theater nearby, the Französischer Saal, or French Hall, in the Künstlerhaus. Roscic said the 250-seat space will be for “people who need a pathway into the world of opera,” including children. Its first season will feature five world premieres. (By comparison, only one newly commissioned work, “Animal Farm,” has been performed on the main stage since Roscic began.)

Roscic’s time has not been without friction. Although his tenure was extended until 2030, that of his musical director Jordan was not. Shortly before the announcement of Roscic’s extension, Jordan gave a blind interview to the Kurier newspaper in which he announced that he would not renew his contract. He blamed the tyranny of the Regietheater, or director’s theatre, which some conservative artists have complained takes the power of new productions away from the orchestra pit. The State Opera is not generally considered cutting-edge, but Jordan said it is on a path that “leads to inevitable long-term failure.”

In the local press, Jordan’s interview was described as a hostile way to save face after he had been fired. Roscic suggested this in a statement at the time, in which he said that Jordan “wanted to extend his contract, but for other reasons this was not possible.” (Jordan declined to be interviewed for this article.)

The State Opera will not replace Jordan when he leaves next year. Instead, Roscic said, he will regularly engage a small group of conductors, such as Welser-Möst, Christian Thieleman and Pablo Heras-Casado.

A future focus, as Roscic looks to his second term, will be repertoire. If his choices draw more from the past than the present, they are mostly new for the State Opera: a first “Un Ballo in Maschera”, for example, and “The Angel of Fire”. “Norma” has not been staged for over 40 years; “Iolanta”, not since Mahler.

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David B.Otero

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