As the rays of the spring sun melt the snow and ice, this pandemic winter with its extremely high infection rates – especially in Saxony – now seems to be coming to an end. By complying with the strict lockdown as well as the tougher health and safety regulations for theatres and orchestras in January, we have significantly curtailed the transmission of the virus – and thus also prevented the further spread of COVID-19 in our cultural institution.
It’s awful to imagine what would have happened if the coronavirus had circulated unchecked through our State Opera Chorus with its 80 members, our Semperoper Ballett with over 50 dancers or even in the Staatskapelle with its 160 musicians. By attacking the respiratory organs, this disease can have serious long-term repercussions for its victims; in the case of performing artists, it can even cut short their careers. Clearly, therefore, compliance with the protective measures was (and is) not only to be seen as the proper implementation of a legal requirement: it also secures our ability to perform and make music. Indeed, protection against the coronavirus also protects artists and their art.
But enough of all that. We’re getting started again! Since February 15, the Semperoper, the Staatskapelle and Semperoper Ballett have begun rehearsals, and our workshops are up and running. Under our internal step-by-step plan, small ensembles and formations can now start their artistic preparations from as early as the week beginning 22 February. We are all very much looking forward to this, even if the stop-and-go of recent months has sometimes been difficult to endure, grated on the nerves and demanded patience from us and from you.
One thing is crystal clear: all of us at the Semperoper have a shared passion to make art for you and to assist in its creation. Our colleagues in the workshops are just as eager to see their months of work on stage designs and sets come to fruition as are our performers and, above all, I myself.
The reality is that we have already had to revise our plans – with the result for you, dear audience members, that we are postponing the announcement of our programme for April onwards. Currently, as of 18 February 2021, we are planning concert performances of »L’Orfeo« by Claudio Monteverdi and »Capriccio« by Richard Strauss. Hopefully we can present a staged version of »Don Carlo« by Giuseppe Verdi before the end of this season, while the new production of »Turandot« will be moved to a later season.
Semperoper Ballett is working on an adapted version of »Swan Lake«. Unfortunately, we have been forced to postpone the previously announced new three-part ballet evening. But before the end of the season, we hope to be able to restart performances in Semper Zwei with »Das schlaue Gretchen« by Martin Smolka and »Wie werde ich reich und glücklich?« by Mischa Spoliansky.
Let’s try not to lose patience. Of course, I’m itching to be able to implement our artistic ideas and present our scheduled productions. But together we will get through this difficult time; and, afterwards, we will sing, play and dance for you with all the joy, excellence and verve you have come to expect. Until then, I wish you and everyone at the Semperoper health, stamina and cheerful optimism.
Your Peter Theiler
Artistic Director of the Saxon State Opera