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Guide to Komische Oper Berlin

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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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BerlinDie Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute)

© Iko Freese | drama-berlin.de
Mozart: Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute)
Ainārs Rubiķis; Barrie Kosky; Komische Oper Berlin; Suzanne Andrade; Chor der Komischen Oper Berlin; Orchester der Komischen Oper Berlin

BerlinAnatevka (Fiddler on the Roof)

© Iko Freese | drama-berlin.de
Bock: Fiddler on the Roof
Koen Schoots; Barrie Kosky; Komische Oper Berlin; Otto Pichler; Chor der Komischen Oper Berlin; Orchester der Komischen Oper Berlin

BerlinDie tote Stadt (The Dead City)New production

© Jan Windszus Photography
Korngold: Die tote Stadt (The Dead City)
Ainārs Rubiķis; Robert Carsen; Komische Oper Berlin; Michael Levine; Petra Reinhardt; Chor der Komischen Oper Berlin; Orchester der Komischen Oper Berlin

BerlinBlaubart

© Iko Freese | drama-berlin.de
Offenbach: Barbe-bleue
TBC; Stefan Herheim; Komische Oper Berlin; Chor der Komischen Oper Berlin; Orchester der Komischen Oper Berlin

BerlinDie Liebe zu drei Orangen (The Love for Three Oranges)

© Monika Rittershaus
Prokofiev: The Love for Three Oranges
Ainārs Rubiķis; Andreas Homoki; Komische Oper Berlin; Chor der Komischen Oper Berlin; Orchester der Komischen Oper Berlin

BerlinDer Zauberer von Oz (The Wizard of Oz)New production

© Jan Windszus Photography
Valtinoni: Der Zauberer von Oz (The Wizard of Oz)
Ivo Hentschel; Felix Seiler; Komische Oper Berlin; Nikolaus Webern; Linda Schnabel; Kati Farkas; Chor der Komischen Oper Berlin
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Pelléas et Mélisande: Kosky's sleep-talking, nightmare

Pelléas et Mélisande © Monika Rittershaus
There’s no doubt that Mélisande endeavours to escape past troubles when she first appears in Barrie Kosky’s production of Debussy’s opera, yet Nadja Mchantaf is no reticent, wispy maiden. Every vocal and physical gesture – always precise and penetrating – displays an atypically forthright quest for vitality, something that Arkel’s chauvinistic world does not readily offer.
*****
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Penetrating Schreker’s kaleidoscopic score

Die Gezeichneten © Iko Freese | drama-berlin.de
Franz Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten (The Branded One) is an unsettling work given the storyline’s background of abduction and clandestine sexual abuse. Calixto Bieito, as expected, eschews ambiguity regarding what goes on behind the scenes, and casts even the titular cripple Alviano Salvago in a damning light.
****1
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Kosky's Nose comes home to Komische Oper

Günter Papendell (Platon Kuzmich Kovalyov) © Iko Freese | drama-berlin.de
Shostakovich's early masterpiece is fêted at the Komische Oper Berlin
****1
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Thunder and lightning put an end to love in Komische Oper’s Semele

Nicole Chevalier (Semele), Katarina Bradić (Ino) and Ezgi Kutlu (Juno) © Monika Rittershaus
Handel’s Semele is presented as a flashback at the Komische Oper in Berlin. 
****1
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Kosky's compelling Onegin returns to the Komische Ope

Asmik Grigorian (Tatyana) and Günter Papendell (Onegin) © Iko Freese | drama-berlin.de (2016)
Tchaikovsky's opera packs a powerful emotional punch in the Komische Oper's concentrated and dreamlike production.
****1
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A boisterous romp at the Komische Oper

Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke (Barbe-bleue) © Iko Freese | drama-berlin.de
Stefan Herheim packs puns and gags into a three-hour long show, but less could have been more. 
***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.