One of the hardest things for writers and composers to undergo is the editing process – revising work, putting a thick red line through a paragraph, cutting a favourite phrase or an idea that pleases the author, but nonetheless has to be abandoned. Writing isn’t just for the author/composer; it’s for the reader/listener too. It can be a painful process. William Faulkner coined the term “kill your darlings” and this quote forms the title of the Bayerische Staatsoper’s new season.

<i>Die tote Stadt</i>
Die tote Stadt
Letting go can be the hardest thing. Sigmund Freud described the difficulty of moving on after the loss of a loved one. In his 1899 book The Interpretation of Dreams, he described Wunscherfüllung (wish fulfillment) as a kind of hallucination. Paul, in Korngold’s opera Die tote Stadt (The Dead City), cannot let go. Marie, his wife, has recently died and in his self-destructive mourning, he fixates on a beautiful young dancer – Marietta – convincing himself that she is Marie. The opera, the first new production of the Bayerische season, is full of lush music, so rich and perfumed that the whiff of decay is never far away. Simon Stone directs the new staging, which stars Jonas Kaufmann as the tortured Paul and Marlis Petersen as Marietta. General Music Director Kirill Petrenko conducts Korngold’s luscious score.

If we’re looking at characters with deep psychological problems, Duke Bluebeard would easily have occupied Freud for an entire chapter. Here’s a character who cannot let go of his last wife… or wives, as his new bride, Judith, chillingly discovers. Katie Mitchell directs her own interpretation of Bluebeard’s Castle – starring Nina Stemme and John Lundgren – as part of a Béla Bartók opera-concert double bill. In 1940, Bartók emigrated to the United States because of the political situation under the Nazis in his native Hungary. Although he became an American citizen shortly before his death, he never felt settled there although he accepted – in a letter written months before his death – that he would never see Budapest again. One of the great works of his time in America was his Concerto for Orchestra, premiered by the Boston Symphony under Serge Koussevitzky less than a year before the composer’s death. Oksana Lyniv conducts this orchestral tour de force.

<i>I masnadieri</i>
I masnadieri
Count Massimiliano Moor’s grief for the “death”of his son, Carlo, is so deep that he fails to recognise his reappearance in Verdi’s I masnadieri. Based on Schiller’s Die Räuber it tells a tale of fraternal treachery and deceit as Francesco sets out to disinherit his brother, who has adopted life as an outlaw, and to claim his wife for himself. A product of Verdi’s “galley years”, Masnadieri is rarely produced, so Johannes Erath’s new staging should pique interest, especially with Charles Castronovo and Igor Golovatenko as the feuding brothers, and Diana Damrau as Carlo’s wife, Amalia.

Verdi “killed” off the idea of writing a King Lear opera, a long term dream which never came to fruition. However, persuaded by Arrigo Boito, he did turn to Shakespeare for his final thoughts. The season opens with a revival of Amélie Niermeyer’s production of Otello, featuring the Traumpaar Jonas Kaufmann and Anja Harteros, while French baritone Ludovic Tézier sings his first Iago. At the other end of the season, the Munich Opera Festival sees the premiere of Mateja Koležnik’s new production of Verdi’s final opera, Falstaff, an autumnal comedy based on The Merry Wives of Windsor. Wolfgang Koch sings the fat knight, while the object of his affections – the delightful Alice Ford – is Aleksandra Kurzak.

Hans Christian Andersen wrote that stories read or heard during childhood help form who you are as an adult. His fairytale The Snow Queen is the subject of a new opera by Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen, featuring Barbara Hannigan, his muse and collaborator in let me tell you. Hannigan does not play the role of the Snow Queen though… that honour goes to a bass, Peter Rose!

The rest of the opera season features revivals, the most noteworthy coming in January when star diva Anna Netrebko tackles the role of Turandot for the first time.

<i>The 7 Deaths of Maria Callas</i>
The 7 Deaths of Maria Callas
The Bayerische Staatsballett shares the Nationaltheater and among its eleven offerings next season are a new production of Coppélia, choreographed by Roland Petit, and a new work by David Dawson, which is paired with Alexei Ratmansky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and a third, as yet unannounced, new creation.

Jean-Philippe Rameau extensively revised his opera Castor et Pollux, eventually cutting the entire prologue. Veteran director Hans Neuenfels creates a new production at the Prinzregententheater, conducted by Ivor Bolton.

Everyone loves an operatic death – especially here at Bachtrack Towers [see our playlist]. The most intriguing premiere next season is the world premiere of The 7 Deaths of Maria Callas, a project by actor and director Marina Abramović featuring Willem Dafoe. It is based on the film she conceived where she took on the role of La divina, Maria Callas, on her deathbed, who has flashbacks to the death scenes of seven operas in which she sang. To a score by Marko Nikodijević, which also features the works of the original composers, seven sopranos or mezzos each play one of the operatic characters portrayed by Callas, from Lucia di Lammermoor to Carmen to Tosca. Few died like Callas. This promises to be something very unusual… and also sports the new season’s best artwork!


This article was sponsored by Bayerische Staatsoper.