The one-act piece based upon Euripides' The Bacchae was the 6th opera by the popular contemporary composer, whose most recent work, Phaedra, enjoyed a 2007 Berlin premiere. Written in the mid-1960's to an English libretto by W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman, the first public performance of the work came in the form of a German translation by Maria Basse-Sporleder, premiering in Salzburg in August of 1966. The original English version would not be produced until a subsequent 1968 Santa Fe staging. This current production is sung in German with German supertitles.
Bavarian State Opera press notes describe the production: "What triumphs over us humans: libidinous intoxication or disciplined reason? Who wins over the people: Dionysos, god of collective inebriation and lord of the Bassarids or Pentheus, King of Thebes, a man of ice-cold rationality? Euripides exemplarily formulated these questions as the fundamental conflicts facing humanity 2,500 years ago in The Bacche _ and it has remained up-to-date right to the present day. One of the most significant and monumental operatic works of the 20th century, Die Bassariden [combines] gigantic orchestral forces [with] the heaviest [vocal] demands placed on chorus and soloists."
This staging, helmed by Christof Loy and conducted by Marc Albrecht, stars Nikolai Schukoff and Rainer Trost sharing the central role of Dionysos. Also featured are Michael Volle and Gabriele Schnaut as Pentheus and Agaue, respectively, at all performances. Rounding out cast are Reiner Goldberg as Teiresias, Christian Rieger as Hauptmann, Eir Inderhaug as Autonoe, Sami Luttinen and Christoph Stephinger sharing the role of Kadmos and Hanna Schwarz as Beroe- all backed by the Bavarian State Orchestra and the Chorus of the Bavarian State Opera.
Having premiered May 19, this Die Bassariden will receive two additional spring performances - on May 31 and June 3 - before resurfacing for a single July 19 performance for the Munich Opera Festival. It will return October 19, 22 and 25 of this year.
For tickets and information, visit www.bayerische.staatsoper.de
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All photos by Wilfried H‹sl for Bavarian State Opera.