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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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BerlinMy Fair Lady

© Iko Freese | Drama Berlin
Loewe: My Fair Lady
Peter Christian Feigel; Andreas Homoki; Komische Oper Berlin; Frank Philipp Schlössmann; Mechthild Seipel

BerlinSemeleNew Production

Nicole Chevalier (Semele), Katarina Bradić (Ino) and Ezgi Kutlu (Juno) © Monika Rittershaus
Handel: Semele
Konrad Junghänel; Barrie Kosky; Komische Oper Berlin; Natacha Le Guen de Kerneizon; Carla Teti; Nicole Chevalier; Katarina Bradić

BerlinBluebeardNew Production

Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke (Barbe-bleue) © Iko Freese | drama-berlin.de
Offenbach: Barbe-bleue
Stefan Soltesz; Stefan Herheim; Komische Oper Berlin; Christof Hetzer; Esther Bialas; Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke; Peter Renz

BerlinThe NoseNew Production

© Jan Windszus
Shostakovich: The Nose
Gabriel Feltz; Barrie Kosky; Komische Oper Berlin; Klaus Grünberg; Chor der Komischen Oper Berlin

BerlinCarmen

© Robert Recker
Bizet: Carmen
Hendrik Vestmann; Sebastian Baumgarten; Komische Oper Berlin; Thilo Reuther; Ellen Hofmann

BerlinSemele

© Jan Windszus
Handel: Semele
Konrad Junghänel; Komische Oper Berlin; Laura Scozzi; Chorsolisten der Komischen Oper Berlin
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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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Baroque bawdiness at Komische Oper Berlin

Stephanie Houtzeel (Xerses), Nina Bernsteiner (Romila) and Nora Friedrichs (Atalanta) © Jaro Suffner
With many costume changes, notably into a Sun-King with very prominent phalic sunburst, Houtzeel held centre-stage in the title role.
****1
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Toy Story: Calixto Bieito stages Die Gezeichneten

Michael Nagy (Count Tamare) and Peter Hoare (Alviano) © Iko Freese | drama-berlin.de
The Spanish director offers a controversial angle but tones it down to focus on dark psychology rather than spectacle in his staging of Schrecker's hothouse opera.
***11
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Fiddler on the Roof returns to the Komische Oper

Max Hopp (Tevye) © Iko Freese | drama-berlin.de
“Fiddler on the Roof” as a universal parable of tradition 
*****
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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.