The production, of Janšcek's Z mrtv_ho domu ("From the House of the Dead"), reunites Boulez with director Patrice Ch_reau and designer Richard Peduzzi. The three collaborated on the epoch-making Wagner Ring cycle at the 1976 Bayreuth Festival — a staging that arguably set in motion the entire phenomenon of Regieoper, productions dominated, and radically reinterpreted, by the stage director.
"This is my last opera production," he said in an interview published in the latest edition of the Austrian magazine NEWS. "Look at my age."
Boulez celebrated his 82nd birthday on March 25.
Reminded that the great Karl B‹hm had conducted opera for longer, Boulez replied, "Yes, but the difference is that he was [primarily] an opera conductor, whereas I am a full-time composer."
He mentioned in particular that he had never conducted Wagner's Die Meistersinger and would have liked to do so, "but that means three or four months of intensive work. I need that time to create new [work] — that is more important to me."
Boulez did not, however, rule out composing another opera. "Not at present, but perhaps in five years things will be different. I admire [writers] Elfriede Jelinek, Peter Handke and Edward Bond very much, he said (presumably mooting them as potential librettists), "but first I would like to compose orchestral music.
"I do know that my music is theatrical," he continued. "But I would not like to work conventionally. I doubt that, in a normal opera house with an orchestra pit, I could realize my opera in the way I'd like. I would never have worked in a [conventional] opera company."
From the House of the Dead opens on May 12 at the Theater an der Wien as part of the Vienna Festwochen, with additional performances on May 14, 16 and 18. The production then travels — with Boulez — to the Holland Festival in Amsterdam (May 29 and 31 and June 2) and the Aix-en-Provence Festival (July 16, 18, 20 and 22).