Seeing the woods
and the trees
This year try something new. Cross boundaries, stray from the path to loose yourself in the forest of great music and theatre. Opera goer? Try a musical too. Scared of Schönberg? Give it a go! First opera? Welcome aboard.
Stephen Langridge has been Artistic Director Opera/Drama at The Göteborg Opera since August 2013. As an internationally active, renowned director of opera and drama, he has worked at opera houses throughout the world. He likes to interweave large-scale productions with ground-breaking, community-oriented musical drama projects in unconventional environments, frequently with groups that do not normally get the chance to express themselves artistically. This is something he also intends continuing with at The Göteborg Opera.
"The 2014/ 2015 season explores music theatre from four centuries, from the small-scale to the vast, from comic to terrifying, from schemes to dreams… but from this multifaceted repertoire there are themes and ideas which emerge time and again.
The Forest is an idea that lies deep in the human psyche. In traditional story telling the forest represents Nature, red in tooth and claw, the world untamed, lawless, passionate, bestial, magical, mysterious, terrifying. It is a place where our fears and desires are given free reign and our emotions are raw. We know that we should stick to the path, that we shouldn’t venture too far in… but somehow we need to test ourselves in the wilderness, we want to dare to go deeper.
The woman in Schönberg’s Erwartung finds herself in the darkest forest in all opera. This is the forest of her unfettered imaginings, the badlands on the border between dream and reality, archetype and fact, sanity and madness. This work (title meaning Expectation) was written nearly a century ago, but still feels bold and innovative today. A psycho-drama with no safety net.
The Forest in which Hansel and Gretel are lost carries the same threat beneath the surface, but now there is a tingle of delicious transgression … all those Saturday sweets and the bizarre old witch who’s strangely familiar. By employing an orchestra of Wagnerian proportions, Humperdinck gives intimations of real danger beneath the sugar, but comes up smiling. This is an opera which will tickle the imagination however old or young you are.
We are also presenting two operas where the relationship between humans and Nature is explored and exemplified by a woman who transforms into a tree. Strauss composed Daphne in Germany during the 1930s. His heroine wants to be at one with innocent nature and finally escapes the chaos of society and desire as she mutates almost ecstatically into a bay tree.
John Adams' A Flowering Tree will appeal to the many enthusiasts for the music of the American minimalists (Philip Glass, Steve Reich and Adams being the most prominent). While Strauss' Daphne allows herself to be transformed by divine powers, Kumudha, the woman at the heart of this Indian folk tale, transforms herself at will into a tree and back again. With exquisite music and sheer visual poetry, this evening belies the reputation of contemporary music as inaccessible or over cerebral.
The other recurring theme is Marriage, where love, desire and society intersect. "Love and marriage / Go together like a horse and carriage" crooned Frank Sinatra, but the operas we are presenting show us that life can be more complicated than what Ol’ Blue Eyes told us. We watch lovers trying to find each other, often battling mad-cap through ridiculous social hierarchies (a revival of Rossini's La Cenerentola brilliantly directed by Radok), or find they are impeded by communication technology (Menotti's comical The Telephone from 1946 is going on tour). We experience frustrating engagements and arranged marriages. But, also look at danger, vulnerability and intimacy of the complex world of love when the young Judith opens the forbidden door in Duke Bluebeard's Castle, one of the absolute masterpieces of the 20th century.
Opening the season is Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, an opera of absurdity, humour and deep melancholy. A dysfunctional marriage and a new marriage tied in farcical entanglements. The impossible plot lines finally unravel when a man accidentally seduces his own wife (in the woods, by the way). A perfect opera? Perhaps. Certainly, it is a joyous celebration to the transformative possibilities of love and forgiveness in a messed up, crazy world.
At The Göteborg Opera, we are passionate about what we’re doing and we’re looking forward to meeting you to share our excitement and the adventure of live music theatre. It's your opera. Come and join us!"
Stephen Langridge, Artistic Director Opera/Drama
"We aim to tear down the barriers that make opera seem unapproachable, to make sure that thrilling music theatre and opera are accessible to anybody who is interested to join us."
A film interview with Stephen on how he plans to develop Opera/Drama
"We aim to maintain the very high, international standard we have in our current productions, while also reaching out to new audiences by collaborating with different groups throughout the region and provide people of all ages with opportunities to participate in creative projects which reflect and examine our world, and express our emotions and dreams. One example is Zoë, an opera for and with young people, which we will stage in spring 2014.
Whether as audience or participant, I hope you will join us on this challenging and exciting journey.”
Read more about Stephen Langridge in this press release from the presentation in August 2012.
“By planting deep roots within the region we will gain the strength and energy to enhance our excellent international reputation.”