Posts Tagged ‘Ludwig Spaenle’

Ministry Split, Minister Fired

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

Ludwig Spaenle, Bavaria’s former Kultusminister

Published: March 21, 2018

MUNICH — Bavaria’s Culture Ministry, responsible for Bayerische Staatsoper and Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz, among many other entities, underwent a sudden double shake-up this morning with the firing of its cheerful chief, Ludwig Spaenle, and an organizational severing into two parts.

Bernd Sibler, 47, is the new Kultusminister. The former Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Bildung und Kultus, Wissenschaft und Kunst (Bavarian State Ministry of Education and Culture, Science and Art) is now two ministries, divided at that comma for the third time in its history. In a more subtle change, the word Bildung (learning) has been replaced with the sterner term Unterricht (instruction).

The shake-up came at the behest of Bavaria’s forceful new Minister-Präsident, Markus Söder, 51, who replaced Horst Seehofer when the latter joined Angela Merkel’s cabinet in Berlin last week as Federal Minister of the Interior. (The two are pictured.) Merkel and Seehofer, who differ on the sore topic of immigration, belong to the CDU party and its Bavarian ally, the CSU, respectively. Söder and Sibler are CSU members.

It is unclear what moves Söder, through Sibler, will make on Bavaria’s lavish arts budgets. He has been Seehofer’s Finanzminister these last seven years, and known as a fiscal hawk not much connected to the classical music scene.

Bavarian King Ludwig I established the Culture Ministry in 1847, soon broadening it to embrace “all aspects of upbringing, instruction, morals, spiritual and artistic learning, and the institutions for them.” It became a state body in 1918, when the monarchy fell; a purveyor of Nazi ideology in schools and universities, art and culture, in 1933; and a champion of freedom, rule of law, and democracy after the Second World War.

Minister-Präsident Franz Josef Strauß in 1986 was the first to divide the ministry, on the pattern now mimicked by Söder. It was reunited in 1990, divided again eight years later, and reunited in 2013. Its spiritual mandate never disappeared: Kultus means worship, or adoration, as well as culture.

Photo © Deutsche Presse-Agentur

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Dorny, Jurowski to Staatsoper

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

Vladimir Jurowski photographed by Simon Pauly in Berlin

Published: March 6, 2018

MUNICH — The rumor emerged last fall, lingered, and today became fact during a Free State of Bavaria cabinet meeting: Serge Dorny, 56, and Vladimir Jurowski, 45, will in Sept. 2021 take over as Intendant and Generalmusikdirektor, respectively, at Bavarian State Opera. So said a statement from Bavaria’s Kultusminister Ludwig Spaenle, listing the appointments in that sequence. No contract term was disclosed, and no salary. The opera company will go without a GMD in the preceding season, after incumbent Kirill Petrenko steps down.

Lyon-based Dorny and Berlin-based Jurowski have been colleagues before, if not salaried together, notably by way of the London Philharmonic and the Glyndebourne Festival. Presumably they will get along, as have Petrenko and outgoing Intendant Nikolaus Bachler. Bavaria’s Culture Ministry did not answer questions about the joint nature of the new hiring.

Dorny drew attention around Germany when in 2014 he sued Dresden’s Semperoper for wrongful termination. He had been appointed Intendant of that company for five years, to start that fall, but was peremptorily fired in February, midway through an agreed preparative season, and suffered the further indignity of a Saxon minister’s televised description that he had behaved “like the Sun King.” He won the case, and pay and damages to the tune of a reported €1.5 million, and in July 2016 fended off the Free State of Saxony’s appeal.

Dorny grew up in a Flemish-speaking family on western Belgium’s French border. He began his career in 1983 as a dramaturge working for Gerard Mortier at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie. Four years later he was heading the Festival van Vlaanderen. From 1996 to 2003 he served as chief executive and artistic director of the London Philharmonic, a post that took him yearly to Glyndebourne, before he started in his present, acclaimed role as directeur général of the Opéra de Lyon.

The Moscow-born conductor, whose family emigrated to Germany in 1990, promises high standards and a slightly freer approach to music direction than Petrenko. His theater work has centered on projects at Glyndebourne, where between 2003 and 2013 he filmed operas by all three of BStO’s so-called “house gods”: Mozart, Wagner and Strauss.

Janowski debuted with BStO in Nov. 2015 leading an adrenaline-charged Akademiekonzert program of Liszt, Hindemith and Prokofiev, and weeks later presided over a musically and dramatically successful new Ognenny angel (Огненный ангел). Although he did return for one performance of that opera the next summer, he has not appeared with the company since.

Andris Nelsons’ name was also floated for the GMD position. He moved to Munich in 2015 and had seemingly been interested in vitalizing the thinnish opera side of his career at Germany’s biggest opera company. However, as Munich’s Merkur newspaper has reported, his schedule was deemed too full to take on all the GMD duties — a fair assessment but one that could equally apply to Jurowski, who today heads orchestras* in London, Berlin and Moscow. Four performances of Rusalka last June have been Nelsons’ only BStO assignment.

[*He is concurrently principal conductor of the London Philharmonic, chief conductor and artistic director of the Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester Berlin and artistic director of the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia (in Moscow, formerly the USSR State Symphony Orchestra) … as well as principal artist of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, in London, and artistic director of the George Enescu Festival, in Bucharest.]

Photo © Simon Pauly

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Staatsoper Imposes Queue-it

Thursday, December 28th, 2017


Published: December 28, 2017

MUNICH — Post is under revision.

Illustration © Queue-it and Bayerische Staatsoper

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State Mute on Ticket Handicap

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Ludwig Spaenle, Bavaria’s Culture Minister

Published: March 13, 2017

MUNICH — Bavaria’s Culture Ministry declined to comment last week on the handicapping of online ticket buyers by Bavarian State Opera, one of the entities it supervises.

In theory the Bavarian State Ministry of Education and Culture, Science and Art, to give it its full name, supports culture and the arts “in all regions of Bavaria,” spending $534 million yearly to this end. (California, for context, spends $12 million on the arts.)

But the opera company’s handicapping, which began with the 2016–17 season, drastically narrows the chances for Bavarians outside Munich to buy seats below €100 to Staatsoper performances in heavy demand. This obviously affects Americans and other distant buyers as well.

Intrepid readers can follow the handicap, without registering, next Tuesday, March 21, at 5 a.m. EDT (2 a.m. PDT), when online sales start for BStO’s new Tannhäuser. The production opens May 21, conducted by Kirill Petrenko.

Ludwig Spaenle, Bavaria’s busy Kultusminister, is pictured.

Photo © Jens Renner

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Petrenko to Extend in Munich

Friday, July 24th, 2015

Kirill Petrenko in Munich’s National Theater

Published: July 24, 2015

MUNICH — Bavarian State Opera has confirmed by phone it will announce a contract extension for Kirill Petrenko before the start of next season, in September. With the month of August being a house holiday, the news could come as early as next week when the company’s annual Munich Opera Festival winds down.

Petrenko, 43, became Generalmusikdirektor less than two years ago but has quickly earned respect with his musical dedication, technical gifts and impassioned manner. His present contract expires in August 2018.

Although talks to retain the Russian-Austrian’s services longer into the future have been underway for some time, as company Intendant Nikolaus Bachler noted last month, the announcement will be coming at an awkward juncture given Petrenko’s June 21 acceptance of a surprise invitation to serve as Chefdirigent of the Berlin Philharmonic, albeit with no firm start date.

His move from Carlos Kleiber’s orchestra to Herbert von Karajan’s will likely mean a briefer extension than would otherwise have been the case and a phasing in of Berlin commitments that works around his long-range Munich opera plans. Hopes are dashed anyway of a full Petrenko “era” at Bavarian State Opera like that of Wolfgang Sawallisch, who led the company for twenty-one years.

The new contract will have three parties: the conductor, who is currently preparing cycles of Der Ring des Nibelungen in Bayreuth; Bachler; and Ludwig Spaenle, Bavaria’s Kultusminister.

A perfectionist if ever there was one, Petrenko operates with specific capacity. Strain takes its toll. In 2007 he suffered “exhaustion,” leading to cancellations. He pulled out of a 2011 Fidelio in London due to back problems. Last December he was “indisposed” for his fourth planned Berlin Philharmonic program, and in March he cited strenuousness of assignment as a reason for withdrawing from the Bayreuth Festival in 2016 and 2017. He has just begun to relax in the saddle with the Bavarian State Orchestra.

What separates him somewhat from his nominal peers is his not being good at everything. Instead he brings ideas and expressive depth to scores he identifies with. Mussorgsky and Strauss and Berg are strengths.

Petrenko debuted at Bavarian State Opera with Pikovaya dama in October 2003. He returned five seasons later for a new Jenůfa, receiving personal acclaim. In July 2010 it was leaked that Kent Nagano’s contract as GMD would not be renewed, and immediately, before Nagano “quit,” Petrenko’s and Fabio Luisi’s names were publicly mooted. Bachler’s choice, Petrenko won out on Oct. 5, 2010 (to start Sept. 1, 2013). Luisi withdrew piecemeal from several later staged-opera commitments with the company.

As GMD, Petrenko has led premieres of Die Frau ohne Schatten, La clemenza di Tito, Die Soldaten, Lucia di Lammermoor and Lulu as well as a revival of Wagner’s Ring in Andreas Kriegenburg’s hopeless realization (Siegfried’s encounter with Brünnhilde reduced to bedroom farce).

Next season his commitments here include South Pole (Miroslav Srnka), a new Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and, not least, Die Fledermaus. The Bavarian State Orchestra’s six yearly concert programs, or Akademiekonzerte, will feature Petrenko in music of Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Strauss, Mahler, Elgar and Sibelius.

Photo © Wilfried Hösl

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