We are a chasm - a well that stares into the sky
THE 2023–24 SEASON
Excerpt from Serge Dorny's season essay from the annual preview:
Today's world faces massive geopolitical challenges and crises. Again and again, our civilization walks on the edge of an abyss, on the edge of a volcano. A condition that makes us realize how fragile our humanity and our environment is. Perhaps our planet will be saved: It has existed for five billion years and may have as many years ahead of it before the sun goes down. But we, the people, our civilizations, our cultures - what happens to us?
"But where there is danger, the saving also grows" (Friedrich Hölderlin). Guided by these thoughts, worries, perhaps even fears, but also hopes, we have worked out the 2023–24 season, which can be preceded by a sentence from Fernando Pessoa's Book of Unrest:
"We ARE a chasm - a WELL that stares into the sky."
The season turns to these two poles between which life oscillates - heaven and hell. Opera, too - this is its inspiring and at the same time comforting power - constantly fluctuates between them.
The first premiere of the 2023–24 season is Le nozze di Figaro: a war of the genders that ultimately becomes peace - accompanied by the most sublime and comforting of all music.
In Die Fledermaus, the second premiere of the season, we are not far from a joyous apocalypse: Vienna sings and dances, Vienna intoxicates itself with Prussia - that's the big story. And who knows if the Eisenstein couple won't explode after the party - that's the small story that resonates.
Pique Dame opens up different levels of fragility that intertwine into a tragic web. Lisa, much like Tchaikovsky himself may have been at the time, is torn between the love her fiancé Prince Yeletsky has for her and the fascination she has for Hermann, a forbidden love for her. In his opera, inspired by Pushkin's novella, Tchaikovsky hints at Mozart's grace as well as a longing for the Ancien Régime and the dark shadows of Romanticism.
Another dark shadow lies on Mieczysław Weinberg's opera, which will be shown for the first time in Munich: Die Passagierin. Inspired by Zofia Posmysz's autobiographical novel, this opera tells of the encounter of Martha, a survivor of the Auschwitz death camp, with the concentration camp guard Lisa, whom she had thought dead, on a passenger ship: a ghostly encounter - at night and in the fog. A harrowing story between the nightmare of memory and reality.
On the edge of the abyss stands Tosca. Drawn by Scarpia into a dangerous, tragic and murderous game, she moves on a tightrope, between love and jealousy. The moment she thinks she has won, she loses. And she literally plunges into the abyss.
György Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre evokes the question of death - the death of people and civilizations - in the guise of the absurd, the grotesque and the obscene. A world catastrophe that many did not want to see coming. This opera is based on La Balade du Grand Macabre, which Michel de Ghelderode published in 1934, a year after Adolf Hitler came to power, the year Stalin consolidated his power based on lies and terror. Ligeti's Grand Macabre is a joyous and tragic dance of death, a dance on a volcano.
Pelléas et Mélisande by Claude Debussy and Maurice Maeterlinck concludes the 2023–24 season: a dark forest where the abyss is everywhere, threatening, surrounding the characters. At the center is Mélisande, a stranger in this world. A slow passion that leads from station to station to sinking, but also to eternal return: Mélisande gives life to a little girl before she dies.