With some of my new spare time - not having any management job anymore - I have been thrilled to accept two requests from the Danish Minister for Culture Mette Bock: To take on the position as Chairman of the Board for Danish Dance Theatre (Dansk Danseteater) and another one as a member of the new Advisory Board (Museumsrådet) for the National Gallery of Danmark (Statens Museum for Kunst). I am thrilled if some of my experiences from running opera companies in Denmark and in London can be used to help these outstanding organisations, and I look forward myself to learning more about them and their work.
Following on from Carmen on the lake in Bregenz, doing the world premiere of Daniel Bjarnason's Brothers at Den Jyske Opera in Aarhus is not just a huge honor, but also the perfect antidote: A dark, contemporary, compact and intense piece, which goes straight to the core of the terrifying story without any sentiment. This is an opera about the price we pay for going to war, a story about the difficult coming home, but also about universal human emotions and how much pain we can inflict on others and ourselves. Steffen Aarfing and I have kept the production very simple to allow the intense colors in Daniel's music to come out - and I believe Daniel has written a masterpiece. He will be the next big thing in opera, I swear! The opera is part of the Bier Trilogy, with a new opera, musical and dance piece based on three Susanne Bier movies as part of Kulturby 2017 (European Capital of Culture 2017), and we are proud to start the project with Brothers.
Doing Carmen on the lake stage in Bregenz was one of the most extraordinary experiences I have ever had in my professional life. It was amazing to work on this scale, outdoors, and trying to tell this famous story in a fresh, uncluttered, entertaining but also probing way, doing away with cliches and getting to the core of the story about two people who are both fighting for their place in life, who need each other, and who end up destroying each other! But the most incredible thing was the people, the colleagues, behind, in front, beneath, above, around the stage - singers, musicians, technicians and everyone else involved in this long, intense process, and of course especially the creative team around me. I am really proud of the result, and of the fact that almost 400,000 people will see Carmen live on the Bodensee in 2017 and 2018. But as the shows are totally sold out for 2017 already, you have a chance - if you don't want to wait for 2018 - to watch the production on DVD.
It is not just my South American debut tomorrow night - it is the first time I visit South America at all. It has been a truly fascinating experience to explore the magical city that Buenos Aires is, and to work in the renowned Teatro Colon to recreate our production of Wagner's youthful sin Das Liebesverbot. My assistant Barbara Lluch has done an incredible work with both casts, and it has been fantastic to come and put the finishing touches on the work. Das Liebesverbot is a surprisingly fun and light comedy, almost as if 24-year old Wagner was trying to write an operetta or an Italian comic opera. There are sudden glimpses of the Wagner he is later to become (and the lack of brevity and impossible demands on the singers are traits that are already well-developed!), but I hope the audience will first and foremost come to enjoy and take it as a fun satire on how hypocrisy thrives around - and in - all of us, on its own terms. Good luck to Maestro Oliver von Dohnányi, singers Lise Davidsen, Hernán Iturralde, Peter Lodahl & co!
My next new production to open will be "Carmen" at Bregenz Festival, on the amazing lake stage. Designing a show for that stage poses so many challenges and opportunities, and it has been a fascinating process to learn about changing water levels, about hiding loudspeakers, about keeping people safe at height and in water, and at the same time to stick to telling a story and designing a set that will be striking AND work as an acting arena. It has been a big secret what we were planning, but now it can't be kept secret much more - as after years of preparations Es Devlin's fantastic design is finally being built now on the lake in Bergen. To see it take shape, follow the webcam showing the progress - and come see the show when it opens late July 2017!