Staatsoper für alle


Surrounded by the Staatsoper, Humboldt University and Hotel de Rome, and bordered by Unter den Linden, there is hardly a location in Berlin that is as central – in both geographic and cultural terms – as Bebelplatz. For more than a decade now, it has been the venue for a free, open-air symphony concert by the Staatskapelle and Daniel Barenboim, and is open to all Berliners and visitors to the city.
This year’s STAATSOPER FÜR ALLE takes place on 16 and 17 June, featuring an open-air concert and an opera broadcast – with free admission thanks to BMW Berlin.
On Saturday, 16 June at noon the Staatskapelle Berlin and Daniel Barenboim will perform a concert with works by Gioachino Rossini and Claude Debussy as well as Igor Strawinsky’s »Le Sacre du Printemps«. On Sunday, 17 June at 6pm the sold out premiere of Verdis MACBETH, conducted by Daniel Barenboim, with Plácido Dómingo in the title role and Anna Netrebko as Lady Macbeth, one of this year’s season highlights, will be transmissioned live to Bebelplatz.




Gioachino Rossini barely took two weeks to compose his opera buffa »Il barbiere di Siviglia«. His haste was understandable, as he had to adhere strictly to the scheduled performance in February 1816, when the work was first performed at the Teatro Argentina in Rome. The opera became a worldwide success: nowadays, the »barbiere« is considered to be Rossini’s most popular opera and has been on the repertoire of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden for half a century; here, it is presented in the spirit of the Italian comedia dell’arte, which is evoked by Ruth Berghaus’ set design. The overture, with its richness of forms and gesture, is already a stroke of genius – a perfect prelude to this skilfully composed piece which nevertheless has a light touch.

Claude Debussy, whose 100th anniversary this year was a welcome opportunity to highlight his varied and highly impressive oeuvre, offered the large-scale orchestra new, hitherto unimaginable timbres and blends of sound. The three-part composition »Iberia«, first performed in 1910 in Paris, is a work with two different aspects: on the one hand, it has an extremely nuanced, typically French score, whereas on the other, it conjures up the landscape and the atmosphere of Spain. While the first movement entitled »Par les rues et par les chemins« (Through the streets and the paths) is a musical study in which instruments such as castanets and tambourines produce a characteristic Spanish flair that conjures up a bustling city under the southern sun, the subsequent »Les parfums de la nuit« (The fragrances of the night) evokes a noticeably different emotional mood with its soft tones and nuances. The concluding »Le matin d'un jour de fête« (The morning of a festival day) on the other hand, has more powerful, grounded sounds: solemn bells can be heard as well as a noticeable excitement in the face of the new day, which is obviously a special one. Debussy, to whom the term and aesthetic of »musical impressionism« is often applied, convincingly demonstrates his talent in »Iberia« – which is in fact a section of the larger-scale »Images pour Orchestre« – and his ability to »paint« with the differentiated sounds of the orchestra.

A notable with far-reaching effects: Stravinsky’s »Le Sacre du Printemps« is an elemental musical experience and marks the powerful breakthrough to the modern period of the 20th century. He developed the content and scenario of his ballet score together with his friend Nicolas Roerich, one of the best connoisseurs of ancient Russian traditions. The action takes us to a holy place, where a tribe has gathered to call forth the gods and ancestors. The people group around the wise elders, who know the mysteries of pleasing the god of Spring so that he may reconcile nature with men. Before them dance the virgins, one of whom is chosen to serve as a sacrifice. By dancing herself into a rapture, at the end of which she dies, the sacrifice to spring is made.

Stravinsky and Roerich divided the work into two roughly equal parts: »The Adoration of the Earth« is followed by »The Sacrifice« with both sections consisting of a series of dances of different tempos and characters. The central element is the rhythm, which had previously never been unleashed in music with such elemental force. Here – and in the avant-garde harmony as well as the unusual timbre and the tremendous power of the colossal orchestra apparatus – Stravinsky truly broke new ground: it is no coincidence that »Le Sacre du Printemps« was soon regarded as a »founding document« for New Music. The »images from pagan Russia« inspired by archaic folklore traditions, were virtually incomprehensible in conventional terms and hard to measure by common standards. Therefore, the premiere on 29 May, 1913 in the Parisian Theatre des Champs-Elysees caused an utter scandal. Stravinsky outlined his guiding principle in the year after the memorable premiere: »In this rite of spring I wanted to portray the panic-stricken nature of eternal beauty. And so the whole orchestra has to play the birth of spring.«

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