Three names can be found in the cast list under “Staging”. This is unusual. The team made up of director Jossi Wieler, set designer Anna Viebrock and playwright Sergio Morabito want equal rights to present Wagner’s Meistersinger von Nürnberg at the Deutsche Oper. First show on Sunday.
What causes you stomach pain during the staging phase?
Josie Wheeler You can say first, what does not cause stomach pain. Although the work at first seemed monumental, it consists of scenes resembling a room play. In it, one feels the great playwright Wagner, who paints contrasting characters that allow us a wide range of interpretations.
Anna Vibrock I thought at first please do not this piece. But then Sergio said it was about Kafka: that a stranger enters a world that operates according to crazy laws and rituals that he cannot understand. I had to agree. But there are also enough reasons not to want to do a Wagner movie. We know Wagner’s unspeakable theoretical statements about Judaism in Music. The final scene of Saxony’s inflammatory rhetoric against all so-called non-Germans is a difficult one.
Sergio Morabito Suddenly Saks sings like Wootan in his fiery speech, “Be careful!” Much like the rattling of musical swords in the first act of “Lohengrin,” the music lies to what is supposed to be defensive – here: cultural – to emphasize self-defense. This is exactly what needs to be addressed. There is a kind of extreme caution when dealing with Wagner’s work, because everyone has always believed that we have to show positivity in the theater so that the audience can recognize the message. No, you have to face the Wagner abyss. Wagner’s special qualities of good and evil, of the light and night characters, are no longer valid today. There is something populist about Saxony’s intrusive and sympathetic traits, under which Wagner’s ethnic paradigm sleeps. Wagner is one of the main ideologists of Falkesh’s narrative. But we don’t play opera because we match the composer’s message, but because he offers material rich in contradictions that expects us to answer.
vebrok This reminds me of Salzburg’s “Lohengrin”, where someone asked during the premiere break where was the salvation?
morabito Redemption always means that you have to get rid of something. This is the ideological core. Paul Bekker wrote in his Wagner “Life in Works” that the focus of Wagner’s art is to resolve dissonance in harmony. This is the musical story he wants to tell. Wagner also found the formulation that the Jew is the disharmony of the world. So there are intricate connections that should prick our ears against the deification and narcissistic self-celebration that Wagner offers over and over again.
How political is “Die Meistersinger”?
wheeler I would describe the piece as a social ideology. It shows how society is transformed at first by gentle reform, but then also increasingly aggressive and militant. Sacks is a reformer, but he is also driven to demand power to make up for his emotional and excitement losses. In Wagner, all the characters are very contrasting, both women and men. But it remains a fiction, the opera does not show what the world is like, but it raises questions about it. This is the best thing a theater can do.
Could she have objected and said she is an opera artist first and foremost?
morabito That’s it, too, but all Wagner’s works are artistic operas, and with him the “mediator”, that is, the total artwork, the “Letter”. He felt the need to constantly glorify his work and to give it national-political significance. When we do Wagner, I always feel like he can’t be compared to any other opera composer. For others, it’s all about making music, singing, and acting. This is not enough for Wagner. Surrounded by a holistic pretense, Wagner captures the entire musical tradition from Bach to Beethoven as a precursor to his own art, which he celebrates at the conclusion of the opera as “sacred German art.”
The little pedantic Meistersinger Beckmesser is understood as a Jewish caricature of the anti-Semitic Wagner. what’s with you
wheeler He is one of the twelve masters who can undoubtedly do something and we should take their art very seriously.
vebrok Beckmesser is often presented as absurd, but when he performs with award vocals, something in him emerges that he seeks to express and expresses his own status in very avant-garde means. You have to listen to him first.
Has opera become a dystopia for you?
wheeler Anyway, it ends with a big question mark.
What does Nuremberg symbolize in your production? To what extent does Hitler and reception history play a role?
wheeler In Shakespeare’s case, Venice does not specifically mean Venice, and in Wagner’s case, Nuremberg does not have to be Nuremberg. Despite historical references, it is still fiction.
vebrok With us, she plays opera at the College of Music. It doesn’t matter which city you are in. We are interested in the history of the reception, but we do not want to cite it via obvious visual cues.
morabito The date of the reception was recorded in the “Meistersinger”, and we do not have to “decipher” it picturesquely with any swastikas. Unfortunately, the “Heil” choirs speak for themselves, and you don’t have to portray a National Socialist community at all. We are interested in the processes taking place in this microcosm of Nuremberg, or rather in Dr. Bogner Institute.
In what city is the conservatory, if not in Nuremberg?
vebrok The design of the theater is inspired by the Munich Music Academy, which has been in the former NSDAP “Führerbau” since the war. This is a polluted place. But we are dealing with the abuse of power under the skin in such institutions. We don’t want to portray what everyone thinks they already know. The room is covered with wood planks and most of them will not be able to fit it. This college is just one of the many academic buildings where terrified students sneak into the classroom.
What kind of abuse of power is this? A few years ago, the mayor of Munich was sentenced to prison for sexual assault and rape.
wheeler Once again, we avoid explicit allusions. We are concerned about the toxic climate left by ancient patriarchal societies.
In the advertisements, the Three You Productions team was named as an equal. why?
wheeler Me and I have been working together for 40 years. And when the opera was first performed in 1993/1994, Sergio, who was a theater performer in Stuttgart, came along. Since then we have been working together on an equal footing in opera. Everyone contributes their ideas, associations, and materials to our preparatory meetings. Of the three of us, I’m always the listener first.
Isn’t the division of labor determined by theaters because the design of the theater must be built long before rehearsals?
vebrok But we just have something built that we think is right together. As a stage designer, you are responsible for a lot. For me, good stage design also includes costumes. It’s always about the people who move on to it.
Can you identify the type of trend in your teamwork?
wheeler Opera is the art form with the greatest division of labour. We don’t do this because it is fashionable to work in teams. People talk a lot about that day; In fact, very little seems to have changed. The three of us often have very contradictory opinions and attitudes, and our narcissists must be able to put up with them first. For us, this is part of the business and a prerequisite for creating a complex, picturesque wealth.
They are going to different homes. According to your experience, what should be changed structurally? And what necessarily reinforced?
wheeler What needs to be revived more and more, as it is becoming increasingly weaker in international business, is the idea of the group. The German theater scene operates through the repertoire and bands of singers. In the past, recognition of the opera house was much stronger through the artists. Now more and more traveling singers are participating as guests.
vebrok I am concerned about the status of the workshops, which are becoming more and more centralized or being outsourced. It will be much easier to quickly go to the drawing room at home for a change. Now you have to go somewhere, it takes more time. One also notes that acquaintance with what is happening on the stage is lost in the workshops. It is the sensitivity in dealing with the most diverse of aesthetics that threatens to obliterate as a result of the amalgamation of theatrical workshops.