The new opera house
The Theater an der Wien numbers among the most beautiful theatres in Vienna and has one of the richest traditions, too. It was built in 1801 in the spirit of Mozart by Emanuel Schikaneder, the librettist of The Magic Flute. A host of major theatrical works have been premiered here, for example Beethoven’s opera Fidelio.
In 2006, the Mozart Year, the Theater an der Wien was reopened as the city of Vienna’s new opera house with a gala featuring Plácido Domingo, and will now stage performances all the year round. The Theater an der Wien is a marvellous addition to the internationally renowned operatic scene in Vienna and underscores the city’s reputation as a centre of culture and music. Beyond Mozart Year 2006 operas from the baroque period to the present day will be staged to the very highest artistic standard.
Programme for the 2013/14 season
To look for the greatest triumphs of opera means applying the epithets “genius” and “originality” to a musical event. Such triumphs often came about by chance or were not recognised as such until favourable circumstances arose centuries later that revealed their true quality. Take Mendelssohn’s revival of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in the mid-nineteenth century, for example. Add to this the fact that before Mozart and Beethoven the creators of works of such specific evocative power were not unanimously regarded as geniuses by their audiences. George Frideric Handel, for instance, still had to contend with derision, envy and bankruptcy for years after his ground-breaking masterpiece, Messiah. Only at the end of his life was he feted as the nation’s composer, a status he still enjoys today. With the advent of the philosophical concept of genius that originated in England and swept across the European continent shortly after Mozart’s death, artists began to regard themselves, “Prometheus-like”, as stars in the firmament of music. Originality and disdain for parody and, worse still, plagiarism, as required by philosophy, were the sine qua non for an artistic triumph. In his Heiligenstadt Testament of 1802, Beethoven described himself as “on a lonely pedestal” and claimed, as an artist of genius, to be able to make the laws of the universe appreciable to the senses of Man through art. In the autumn of 2013, Rudolf Buchbinder will attempt an approach to this
musical genius through his piano concertos and sonatas on two evenings, while Klaus Maria Brandauer sends “Wagner on a pilgrimage to the creator of Fidelio”.
Musical theatre emerged approximately four hundred years ago from the euphoric desire to tell stories and portray events with music and images. From the outset, opera liked to reflect the dark sides of life. By using “beautiful music” it was possible to tackle provocative and politically
sensitive topics critically and unambiguously. Eros and Thanatos were there all the time, and everywhere. As Aristotle said, “Life consists of movement”.
In the 13/14 season, the Theater an der Wien presents thirteen opera premieres in the building on Naschmarkt and at the Kammeroper. Musical triumphs from Handel to Verdi, from Mozart to Kagel – plus Stravinsky, Rossini, Rameau, Wagner and above all Mozart’s Da Ponte cycle.