The world-renowned opera director and intendant of the Zürich Opera House Andreas Homoki is staging Richard Strauss's opera Der Rosenkavalier in Prague. He has had extensive experience at many prestigious European stages as both a director as well as an intendant. For eight years, he led Komische Oper Berlin, and it was there where he introduced his original adaptation of Der Rosenkavalier, which he is now bringing to the stage of the State Opera.
What did actually lure you into the world of classical music and opera?
My father played the clarinet, my parents took me to concerts and theatre ever since my young age so I felt it was a natural environment to me. As a teenager, though, I listened to completely normal music bands like any other kid. I found my own way to classical music by studying and playing the piano. Being able to understand and read scores, gives me considerable freedom and certainty as a director.
What is your relationship to Czech music?
I love Smetana and Janáček, namely his opera The Cunning Little Vixen. I have been lucky enough to do productions of The Bartered Bride, The Cunning Little Vixen and I have really enjoyed it. The music is just amazing.
You are bringing the opera Der Rosenkavalier to Prague, which you originally directed at the Komische oper Berlin in 2006, where it achieved great success. Will the production be the same at the State Opera?
I´ve built it on a very similar concept. Though different technical features of the stage made me modify the third act, and actually I´ve improved it. The ending is a little different.
When you introduced your concept of Der Rosenkavalier you claimed you would move the audience to tears. What did you mean by that?
Der Rosenkavalier is a comedy, but a very melancholic one. It is a story of a young man who has to stand many emotional trials. Der Rosenkavalier is about love and forgiveness, about life changes. The Marschallin guides him through this process, it costs her a lot of strength and it breaks her heart, but she does it for him nevertheless.
The costumes in Rosenkavalier look historical but the set, at first glance, appears rather modern, minimalistic. So what will your Rosenkavalier be like?
My intention is to portray the passage of time, which, to my mind, is the leitmotif of this opera: the first act is set in the Rococo period although we´re far from hearing Rococo music, it rather has a touch of Viennese Waltz. The second act takes us in the early 1900s and the third act is, in fact, set in the midst of the horrors of World War II. We mustn´t forget that the historical background of this opera was all made up by the composer himself as well as by the librettist They adapted the language and musical expression to achieve a historicising impression. The decorations, as we have conceived them, work as neutral background. We are looking back at the past with nostalgia. Some characters travel through time thanks to their costumes such as the Marschallin: she stays in her Rococo world and for good reasons.
How do you cope with the calls for traditional productions? We often hear such voices…
What are these so-called traditional productions? If they are based on concepts that fail to raise questions, then, in my opinion, they even don´t fall into the art category. My goal is to bring up questions and especially draw the audience into the story and make them forget they are actually watching an opera. Of course, this is mainly in the hands of the performers who have to be able to sing and act perfectly and evoke emotions which make you believe their characters are not just acting, but really living. Let´s hope we´ll succeed again this time.
Photo: Z. Sokol
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