Berlin’s Staatsoper to move to smaller theater for 3 years during renovation

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Berlin Staatsoper set for move to temporary home

BERLIN — Berlin’s Staatsoper is moving to smaller, more frugal premises for three years as its 19th-century home undergoes renovation — and musical director Daniel Barenboim pledged Tuesday to live up to the challenge.

The Staatsoper building has long been a tourist attraction and a centerpiece of the former East Berlin’s Unter den Linden boulevard. But later this year, the opera will move to the Schiller Theater, a smaller auditorium in the west.

Barenboim said he would compensate by working even harder and trying to lure the opera’s fans across the city’s former Cold War divide.

“Moving for three years can be seen as a calamity or as a challenge, and we have decided to see it as the latter,” Barenboim said at a news conference.

The Staatsoper will inaugurate its stay at its new home Oct. 3 with the world premiere of a work commissioned by Barenboim — “Metanoia” by German composer Jens Joneleit, which will be directed by Christoph Schlingensief.

The rest of the 2010/2011 season features eight other opera premieres, 12 productions from the current repertoire, four ballet productions, and 70 concerts conducted by Barenboim, James Levine and Pierre Boulez among others, the Staatsoper said.

“I have planned so that I can be here more than usual during the first year” at the Schiller Theater, Barenboim said. “Of course, I won’t be able to do this every year.”

The Staatsoper building opened in 1844. It has had trouble with antiquated technical equipment for years.

Starting this fall, it will be renovated for some €240 million ($321 million), artistic director Juergen Flimm said.

It will be difficult to take all the opera-goers along to the new site, Flimm said.

“But I hope there will be sufficient curiosity,” he said. “That’s why we are doing so much.”

The Schiller Theater, which was built in the early 20th century and closed by the city of Berlin in 1993 for financial reasons, is currently being renovated for €24 million. Rehearsals there will start Aug. 19, Flimm said.

Berlin has three opera houses — the Staatsoper, the Deutsche Oper and the Komische Oper.

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