FROM THE HOUSE OF DEAD Premieres On 21 May 2018

FROM THE HOUSE OF DEAD Premieres On 21 May 2018

Director Frank Castorf makes his house debut at the Bayerische Staatsoper with Leoš Janaek's last opera, From the House of Dead. Frank Castorf has already staged a large part of the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky at the Volksbuhne in Berlin. Simone Young conducts another premiere at the Bayerische Staatsoper following the new production of Palestrina (2009).

After its first Munich performance in German in 1976, From the House of Dead returns to the Bayerische Staatsoper for the first time in its original language. The production draws here on John Tyrell's recently staged critical new edition, which returns the piece to Leos Janáek's original version with its occasionally surprising chamber music orchestration. "It is a very bleak piece. Tragic, tragicomic, political," says conductor Simone Young. "There is no real storyline. The main characters recount their experiences. In this respect it is totally different from his other operas, whose theme focuses more on love. I am so happy we can work with the latest scientific edition of the piece here."

Leos Janáek created a singular music theatre work with his last opera - an opera without heroes. Against the background of the constantly routine everyday camp life, for a few moments individual prisoners are allowed to emerge from the crowd to tell their life stories, and consequently show the unmistakable identity of each and every individual. The composer based his opera on Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel, The House of the Dead, in which he recorded his time in a Siberian prison camp as a literary retrospect.

The opera is staged by Frank Castorf. Fyodor Dostoevsky's works have a sustained fascinating appeal for Castorf; he has staged almost all of the author's major novels in the past two decades. His productions draw connections between the actual era of the piece, later historical events and the present. This overlapping of historical layers, typical for Castorf, is also a feature of his production of From the House of Dead at the Bayerische Staatsoper, as was also the case with the Bayreuth Ring in a stage set by Aleksandar Deni. Dostoevsky's experiences from his own time in a Tsarist prison camp in the 19th century are consequently combined with the reality of the camps of the 20th century into a "dance of death-like" nightmare, in which the handful of skewed comic moments present small rays of hope for the prisoners. With the singers Castorf searches for the most specific interpretations possible of the extreme physical camp reality, as he tries to awaken the impression with the audience of being observers right in the middle of the camp's reality.

At the heart of a wonderfully cast solo ensemble, bass singer Peter Rose embodies the role of Aleksandr Petrovi? Gorjan?ikov. Rose most recently sang the part of Baron Ochs auf Lerchenau in Der Rosenkavalier at the Bayerische Staatsoper. Aleš Briscein sings the role of Luka (Filka Morozov) and Denmark's Bo Skovhus, who already featured in the premiere series of Lulu (2015), can be enjoyed in the role of Šiškov. Charles Workman embodies the role of the prisoner Skuratov. Soprano Evgenya Sotnikova sings as the prisoner Aljeja, one of only two female voices in this piece.

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