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Guide to Komische Oper Berlin

April 2019
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« ...with its 1947 re-opening the Komische Oper established a tradition for itself that all opera performances in the house would be sung in the German language. This policy was created in order to bring opera directly to the German 'Volk'. Australian Director Barrie Kosky has subtly broken with this tradition in his tenure [but] no one seems to mind. Sold out performances are quite common these days at the Komische Oper, Eugene Onegin being no exception. Many hopeful people were standing in line to purchase an unclaimed ticket Saturday night. »
Karen Hunter Bachtrack, February 2016
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BerlinWest Side Story

© Iko Freese | drama-berlin.de
Bernstein: West Side Story
Koen Schoots; Barrie Kosky; Komische Oper Berlin; Otto Pichler; Chor der Komischen Oper Berlin; Orchester der Komischen Oper Berlin

BerlinLa bohèmeNew production

Nadja Mchantaf (Mimì), Günter Papendell (Marcello) and Vera-Lotte Böcker (Musetta) © Iko Freese | drama.berlin.de
Puccini: La bohème
Jordan De Souza; Barrie Kosky; Komische Oper Berlin; Rufus Didwiszus; Victoria Behr; Nadja Mchantaf; Vera-Lotte Böcker

BerlinPorosNew production

Ruzan Mantashyan (Mahamaya) and Eric Jurenas (Sir Alexander) © Monika Rittershaus
Handel: Poro, re dell'Indie
Jörg Halubek; Harry Kupfer; Komische Oper Berlin; Hans Schavernoch; Yan Tax; Dominik Köninger; Ruzan Mantashyan

BerlinPetruschka / L'Enfant et les sortilèges

© Iko Freese | drama-berlin.de
Ravel, Stravinsky
Gabriel Feltz; Suzanne Andrade; Komische Oper Berlin; Pia Leong; 1927; Esme Appleton; Katrin Kath

BerlinBall im Savoy

© Iko Freese | drama-berlin.de
Abraham: Ball im Savoy
Adam Benzwi; Barrie Kosky; Komische Oper Berlin; Otto Pichler; Chor der Komischen Oper Berlin; Orchester der Komischen Oper Berlin

BerlinMy Fair Lady

© Iko Freese | drama-berlin.de
Loewe: My Fair Lady
Peter Christian Feigel; Andreas Homoki; Komische Oper Berlin; Arturo Gama; Chor der Komischen Oper Berlin; Orchester der Komischen Oper Berlin
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Handel in the British Raj: Harry Kupfer returns to Komische Oper

Ruzan Mantashyan (Mahamaya) and Eric Jurenas (Sir Alexander) © Monika Rittershaus
Loyalty and misdeeds in the jungle of emotions in Handel's Poro, re dell'Indie.
****1
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Kosky's mesmerising Magic Flute in Auckland

Komische Oper Berlin's Zauberflöte © Michael Smith
The Queen of the Night appeared as a malevolent giant spider, complete with exoskeleton, threatening Tamino with her stabbing limbs and summoning hordes of smaller spiders to writhe over Pamina when the latter hesitated to commit to Sarastro's murder.
****1
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When death is an old-fashioned portrait

Nadja Mchantaf (Mimì), Günter Papendell (Marcello) and Vera-Lotte Böcker (Musetta) © Iko Freese | drama.berlin.de
The new version of La bohème at the Komische Oper Berlin follows a hard Verismo-beat.
****1
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Voltaire à la Kosky: a magical Candide at Komische Oper

Allan Clayton (Candide) © Monika Rittershaus
Serious farce, warm-hearted sarcasm, operatic Broadway: Barrie Kosky and Komische Oper turn Bernstein's problem child into a show that thrills from start to finish.
*****
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The Wizard of Oz arrives at Komische Oper

Christoph Späth (Scarecrow), Tom Erik Lie (Tin Man), Alma Sadé and Carsten Sabrowski (Lion) © Jaro Suffner
Pierangelo Valtinoni’s take on the classic story is a charming introduction to opera for children. 
****1
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Fleeting happiness: Robert Carsen's Tote Stadt at the Komische Oper

Sara Jakubiak (Marietta) © Iko Freese | drama-berlin.de
The Komische Oper's new staging of Korngold's opera doesn't quite offer the necessary scale or atmosphere. 
***11
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Biography

Since the construction of the venue in Behrenstraße (which opened as the “Theater Unter den Linden” in 1892, re-operning as the “Metropol-Theater” in 1898 after bankruptcy), the Komische Oper Berlin has at various times been a consistent international trend-setter in the world of musical theatre. As the leading theatre for operettas and revues in the 1920s, it fundamentally shaped the Berlin, and hence international, entertainment scene. Following the Second World War, Walter Felsenstein’s concept of musical theatre revolutionised European opera, and to this day it remains an important point of reference for the great majority of musical theatre directors seeking to be contemporary in their work. This inspirational international influence as a trend-setter in innovative musical theatre is reflected in the many artistic careers which began at the Komische Oper Berlin – including those of the directors Götz Friedrich and Harry Kupfer as well as the conductors Otto Klemperer, Kurt Masur, Yakov Kreizberg, and Kirill Petrenko.

In 2012, Barrie Kosky took over from Andreas Homoki as the Artistic Director of the Komische Oper Berlin. He was joined by Henrik Nánási, the new General Music Director. The Komische Oper Berlin is versatile and flexible to a degree which is unusual for an opera house. This and the fixed ensemble of singer-performers are key characteristics of the Komische Oper Berlin under Kosky’s directorship. Kosky’s conceptual approach draws not only on the tradition set by Felsenstein, but also on the venue’s pre-war traditions, which were strongly shaped by Jewish actors and have hitherto received less attention. Felsenstein’s vision of opera as a form of musical theatre in which music and action are equally important components of a production is combined by Kosky with the demand that musical theatre should provide an experience which appeals to all the senses and which encompasses musical drama in all its forms, from the classic Mozart repertoire through to genre-defying projects.