"We must never imitate anyone else. It is important that we have our own identity and produce opera in our own way."
Lise-Lotte Axelsson has been the opera director at the Göteborg Opera since 2005. Under her direction the opera house has had a number of exciting exchanges with other European opera houses, for example, collaborations with Darmstadt, Frankfurt and Copenhagen. "One has to find others who share the same intentions and vision,” she says. "Only then does it become possible to exchange productions with each other."
One example of a particularly successful exchange was with the opera house in Darmstadt. The Göteborg Opera’s production of Katya Kabanova was exchanged for Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.
"Our Katya Kabanova has received a great amount of attention in opera circles. We have also given some fantastic Strauss and Wagner performances that have really placed us on the international scene."
"The fact that the art of opera suddenly appeared in the Eurovision Song Contest naturally awakens an interest for opera among the general public. That's good for us. More people find their way here." Lise-Lotte Axelsson
First performances and old classics.
At the Göteborg Opera, German magnum opuses, French Romanticism and baroque and chamber operas are performed alongside pop and rock musicals. According to Lise-Lotte Axelsson it is also necessary to commission first performances. "If opera is to live on then new works must be produced. We have had several first performances in the house through the years. For example Sömnkliniken (the Sleep Clinic) on the Small Stage and Goya on the Main Stage."
Goya is a Swedish commissioned work specially written for the Göteborg Opera with music by Daniel Börtz and a libretto by Magnus Florin. "It feels really fantastic to be part of commissioning a first performance and to watch it unfold over a period of four years," says Lise-Lotte Axelsson.
Years between idea and premiere.
Putting on a performance is time-consuming. Goya took four years. A usual performance takes from one to two years. "We have a way of producing opera that ensures very high standards. We invest a lot of time in putting the team together and we have long rehearsal processes," says Lise-Lotte. "It can at times be difficult for international stars to set aside that much time. But we've still had several really big names visiting us here. A few examples are Nina Stemme, Peter Mattei and Katarina Dalayman."
The Malena Ernman effect.
Lise-Lotte Axelsson has a long experience of the opera world. She was previously principal of Operahögskolan (the University College of Opera) in Stockholm. She has also worked as a pianist and rehearser for singers and musicians in a number of opera productions. One of her pupils was Malena Ernman. "The fact that the art of opera suddenly becomes visible and audible in the Swedish Eurovision makes for increased interest in opera among the general public. This is good for us. More people find their way here."