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Vienna is truly a Tote Stadt, says leading opera director

Peter Konwitschny, one of the foremost German opera directors, has been sounding off to the locals.
Asked why he directed so infrequently in Vienna (his new staging of Verdi’s “Attila” opens at the Theater an der Wien on Sunday), he replied:
“I take a very definite stance towards my profession. And the higher the wages, the more expensive the ticket prices, the less compatible it becomes. What I do is make living theatre. That means, on the one hand, that it has to have something to do with living people. On the other, the singers have to play figures and mustn’t just produce notes. I don’t fit in where dead theatre is on the programme. The reason why I so rarely work in Vienna is in part due to the closed society of a dead opera society.”
That’s telling ‘em.

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  1. Tully Potter says:

    Speaking for myself, since seeing his ghastly Traviata I have added Herr Konwitschny to a long list of arrogant , ignorant opera directors whose work I would almost pay not to see.

  2. It’s doubtfull to be true, considering that most of the artists performing in Vienna are performing everywhere else in the world (Scala, et comp.) I cannot imagine Mrs. Netrebko or Mr. Hvorostovsky suddenly acting cold on the stage when performing in Vienna… so my guess is that this is said mostly to make a “favour” to somebody or something…

    • Emil Archambault says:

      Could it have to do with the rehearsal time? Singers frequently fly in and out in Vienna for only a few performances, while they will stay for 2 months in Covent Garden for 4-6 weeks rehearsal + 6 to 8 performances for new productions.

      • Can’t imagine that Konwitschny was referring to rehearsal time, as he’s currently staging Attila at Theater an der Wien, which works on ‘stagione’ basis, meaning there is plenty time to rehears.

  3. Wow – He calls the audience in Vienna “unzurechnungsfähig” (= mad), but on the other side he wants to get payed by money from sold tickets ( bought by that mad audience) and public subsidies. This guy is such a hippocrite and his productions are neither new nor orininal,
    Please keep him away from La Juive – he said yesterday that this work`s music does not interest him but he is preparing a production….

    • Theodore McGuiver says:

      …because someone is prepared to pay this old fraud to demolish it. Sadly, Konwitschny is right to accept; the person at fault is the one wanting to hire him.

    • Fabio Fabrici says:

      A proper translation for his use of the word “unzurechnungsfähig” here would be “not accountable” or “not understanding”.

  4. I’ve heard some great recordings of German opera from his father, Franz, what the heck happen to the son?

  5. Musiker says:

    Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see his “Traviata”, which received rave reviews both in Graz and at the ENO, but his “Götterdämmerung” in Stuttgart was magnificent.
    Witty, intelligent, stimulating, entertaining and extremely musical.
    Here is a director who not only knows his operas inside out, but can also read the score — an ability which seems to be becoming increasingly rare nowadays.
    You may not like his productions. But if there’s one thing Konwitchny isn’t, it’s ignorant.

    • I loved his Traviata.

    • Absolutely. I was fortunate to sing Philippe II in his production of Don Carlos at the Vienna Staatsoper. I’ve never worked harder in my life as there was a great deal of physical action involved – including wrestling with the Grand Inquisitor! But his staging of the “cabinet scene” and Auto da Fe were revelatory!

    • His was the first _Tristan_ I saw (on DVD), and returning to it recently I realised how cogent and intelligent a presentation it is.

  6. I’ve actually had a feeling that on the contrary he was directing quite regularly in Vienna. There was just recently an amazing production of Janacek’s”From the House of the Dead” at State Opera, now he’s directing Attila, and next year there will be his Traviata. Don’t really believe that it is realistic to have anyone direct more often then that in Vienna (provided they they are not Sven Erich Bechtelhof)

  7. Hasbeen says:

    Price, Great artist, beautiful voice but what language was she singing in, Certainly not German !

  8. The real reason why Konwitschny finds Vienna a ‘dead city’ is, that when the locals hear he is about to arrive, they all flee the capital except invalids and very old people, who stay inside anyway, so the capital looks deserted.

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