The 2010/2011 season will usher in a new chapter in the glittering biography of the Semperoper Dresden when, for the first time in the famous opera house's more than 350 year history, a woman will hold the office of general manager. In her new position, Dr. Ulrike Hessler intends to foster a lively and fruitful mix of tradition and innovation. The Saxon State Opera will promote and nurture its ensemble of singers, whilst also focussing on younger audiences and the musical roots of the city of Dresden. "Not a radical break with the past," says Ulrike Hessler, "but continuous development and transformation as the path into the future."
The first premiere already has close links to Dresden. Daphne is one of Richard Strauss's nine operas which were originally produced in the Saxon capital. Further operas by Strauss, as well as works by other composers with strong connections to the city, such as Carl Maria von Weber and Richard Wagner, will follow in the next five years. Rusalka by Anton‹n Dvořšk bridges the gap to the neighbouring city of Prague, highlighting the shared cultural heritage. This production also offers Dresden audiences their first taste of the work of director Stefan Herheim. As the Semperoper's principal director, he will bring one of his sensuous and wonderfully imaginative productions to the city each season.
Of course, in a baroque city one should expect to hear baroque opera. In the first season audiences can enjoy Claudio Monteverdi's L'incoronazione die Poppea, Henry Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and Johann Adolph Hasse's Intermezzo Il tutore.
Kurt Weill is also connected to Dresden through a premiere conducted by Fritz Busch. However, the work which audiences can look forward to is the opera Street Scene, originally composed by Weill for Broadway, and now to enjoy its premiere performance in Dresden. With a large cast of characters, the Semperoper's expanded ensemble will have a great opportunity to show off their talents.
With its new youth programme Semperoper Junge Szene, the opera house intends to cultivate a young audience while at the same time bringing different generations together. Hans Werner Henze has specially composed a new opera for this venture entitled Gisela! Oder: Die denk- und merkw‹rdigem Wege des Gl‹cks. This work, which can be enjoyed by all ages, will receive its premiere on the main opera stage. Further Junge Szene projects will be presented on the smaller rehearsal stage 1 (directly attached to the opera house). According to Ulrike Hessler: "Young people are very important to us, not just as the audience of tomorrow, but also as a source of artistic creativity. They can support us in keeping alive our wonderful art form, infusing it with new life and energy."
The Semperoper is perhaps unusual in devoting much time and effort to cultivating its repertoire and ensemble of singers. General Manager Ulrike Hessler and the new opera director, Eytan Pessen, have made a conscious decision to enlarge the current ensemble with an infusion of strong young voices, offering them space to grow artistically by performing diverse roles in a variety of styles. Pessen says that "I am fascinated when artists work together to create a complete and unified work of art, where a symbiosis can develop between individual singers and the entire ensemble."
Finally, Semperoper Ballett under Aaron S. Watkin will also display this spirit of close cooperation and mutual understanding when they present, amongst other works, Coppelia and choreographies by Forsythe, while also collaborating with the Palucca School and the European Centre of the Arts in Hellerau.
At the season 2010/11 the Semperoper shows 14 new productions, with 3 Ballet productions, and 3 concertant opera premieres.
Further information to the season 2010/11 is available at www.semperoper.de