The Munich Biennale (German: Münchener Biennale) is an opera festival in the city of Munich. The full German name is Internationales Festival für neues Musiktheater, literally: International Festival for New Music Theater. The biennial festival was created in 1988 by Hans Werner Henze and is held in even-numbered years over 2–3 weeks in the late spring. The festival concentrates on world premieres of theater-related contemporary music, with a particular focus on commissioning first operas from young composers.
The first four festivals, under Henze
Henze, himself a prolific composer of operas, described the genesis of the festival like this:
The whole story started with a query from the departmental head of the (Munich) cultural office ... whether I ... would be interested in considering creating some sort of civic music festival in Munich. After a period of time I suggested organizing something that had been lacking up until that point, something that also did not exist anywhere else in the world and yet was an urgent necessity – namely, a place where the young generation of composers interested in theatre ... could realize their ideas.
Henze curated the first four festivals, from 1988 to 1994, and established the general format of most of the festivals that followed. Short runs of the premiered operas are preceded by talks and additional concerts from the featured composers, to introduce the audiences to their ideas and music.
The later festivals, under Peter Ruzicka
Peter Ruzicka took over as artistic director ("one of the most influential administrative/ artistic positions in the European music-theatre scene") in 1996, with that year's biennale being jointly curated by Henze. Ruzicka broadened the scope of the works presented, with more emphasis on works using multimedia, and moving away from the text-based sources that characterised the period curated by Henze.
Operas given at the Munich Biennale
World premieres are marked as WP
|Premiere||Composer||Title||Libretto and source|
|1988-05-2929 May 1988||WP||GlanertDetlev Glanert||Leyla und Medjnun||Aras Ören and Peter Schneider, after the epic poem by Nizami|
|1988-06-033 Jun 1988||WP||KuhrGerd Kühr||Stallerhof||Franz Xaver Kroetz, after his own play|
|1988-06-044 Jun 1988||WP||HolszkyAdriana Hölszky||Bremer Freiheit||Thomas Körner, after the play by Rainer Werner Fassbinder|
|1988-06-1717 Jun 1988||WP||TurnageMark-Anthony Turnage||Greek||the composer and Jonathan Moore, after the play by Steven Berkoff|
|1990-04-2626 Apr 1990||WP||HamaryAndrás Hamary||Seid still||José Vera Morales, after the play Tóték by István Örkény|
|1990-04-2828 Apr 1990||WP||Von SchweinitzWolfgang von Schweinitz||Patmos||D. E. Sattler (de), after the Apocalypse of St John in Martin Luther's translation|
|1990-05-066 May 1990||WP||Von BoseHans-Jürgen von Bose||63: Dream Palace||the composer, after the novella by James Purdy|
|1990-05-1414 May 1990||WP||ReverdyMichèle Reverdy||PrecepteurLe Précepteur||Hans-Ulrich Treichel (de), after the play Der Hofmeister by Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz|
|1992-05-077 May 1992||||DinescuVioleta Dinescu||Eréndira||Monika Rothmaier, after the story The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Eréndira and Her Heartless Grandmother by Gabriel García Márquez|
|1992-04-2929 Apr 1992||WP||LidermanJorge Liderman||Antigona Furiosa||the composer, after the drama by Griselda Gambaro|
|1992-05-2727 May 1992||||BattistelliGiorgio Battistelli||Teorema||the composer, loosely after the film by Pier Paolo Pasolini|
|1992-05-1616 May 1992||WP||StablerGerhard Stäbler||Sünde.Fall.Beil||Andreas Lechner (de), after the drama Catherine Howard by Alexandre Dumas père|
|1992-05-2222 May 1992||||VirParam Vir||Broken Strings||David Rudkin, after the Buddhist story Guttil Jatak|
|1992-05-2222 May 1992||||VirParam Vir||Snatched by the Gods||William Radice, after the poem Debatar Gras by Rabindranath Tagore|
|1994-05-0101 May 1994||WP||LeonTania León||Scourge of Hyacinths||the composer, after the radio play by Wole Soyinka|
|1994-05-1919 May 1994||WP||MasonBenedict Mason||Playing Away||Howard Brenton|
|1996-12-044 Dec 1996||WP||ObstMichael Obst||Solaris||the composer, after the novel by Stanislaw Lem|
|1996-12-099 Dec 1996||WP||KulentyHanna Kulenty||MotherThe Mother of Black-Winged Dreams||Paul Goodwin|
|1997-04-1414 Apr 1997||WP||WatkinsRoderick Watkins||JuniperThe Juniper Tree||Patricia Debney, after the folk tale by the Brothers Grimm|
|1998-04-1919 Apr 1998||WP||HosokawaToshio Hosokawa||Vision of Lear||Tadashi Suzuki, after his stage play The Tale of Lear|
|1998-04-2121 Apr 1998||WP||BhagwatiSandeep Bhagwati||Ramanujan||the composer, after the life of Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887-1920)|
|1998-04-2525 Apr 1998||WP||Muller-WielandJan Müller-Wieland||Komödie ohne Titel||the composer, after the drama Comedia sin título by Federico García Lorca|
|1999-04-1919 Apr 1999||WP||SoteloMauricio Sotelo||De Amore||Peter Mussbach (de)|
|2000-05-1010 May 2000||WP||CzernowinChaya Czernowin||Pnima ... ins Innere|
|2002-04-2727 Apr 2002||WP||WernerAndré Werner||Marlowe: Der Jude von Malta||the composer, after the play The Jew of Malta by Christopher Marlowe|
|2002-05-033 May 2002||WP||StahnkeManfred Stahnke||Orpheus Kristall||Simone Homem de Mello|
|2004-05-1212 May 2004||WP||StaudJohannes Maria Staud||Berenice||Durs Grünbein, after Edgar Allan Poe|
|2004-05-2525 May 2004||WP||FerneyhoughBrian Ferneyhough||Shadowtime||Charles Bernstein|
|2006-05-099 May 2006||WP||CattaneoAureliano Cattaneo||PhilosophieLa Philosophie dans le labyrinthe||Edoardo Sanguineti, after the Greek myth of the Minotaur|
|2006-05-1818 May 2006||WP||Sanchez-VerduJosé María Sánchez-Verdú||GrammaGRAMMA||the composer|
|2008-04-1717 Apr 2008||WP||PoppeEnno Poppe||Arbeit Nahrung Wohnung||Marcel Beyer, loosely after the novel Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe|
|2008-04-1818 Apr 2008||WP||Lang,KKlaus Lang||ArchitekturDie Architektur des Regens||after the Noh play Shiga by Zeami (c1363–c1443)|
|2008-04-2323 Apr 2008||WP||BauckholtCarola Bauckholt||Hellhorighellhörig||(none)|
|2008-04-3030 Apr 2008||WP||JoneleitJens Joneleit||Piero – Ende der Nacht||Michael Herrschel, loosely after the novel Die Rote by Alfred Andersch|
|2010-04-2727 Apr 2010||WP||MaintzPhilipp Maintz||Maldoror||Thomas Fiedler, after Les Chants de Maldoror by Comte de Lautréamont|
|2010-04-2828 Apr 2010||WP||IllesMárton Illés||WeisseDie weiße Fürstin||after the first draft of the dramatic poem by Rainer Maria Rilke|
|2010-05-085 May 2010||WP||SchedlKlaus Schedl||Tilt||Roland Quitt, after the diary of Sir Walter Raleigh|
|2010-05-085 May 2010||WP||TabordaTato Taborda||EinsturzDer Einsturz des Himmels||Roland Quitt, after the book La Chute du Ciel by Davi Kopenawa and Bruce Albert|
|2010-05-085 May 2010||WP||BrummerLudger Brummer (web)||In Erwartung||Peter Weibel|
|2010-05-099 May 2010||WP||WangLin Wang(web)||QuelleDie Quelle||the composer and Can Xue, after a story "the Double Life" by Can Xue|
|2012-05-033 May 2012||WP||NemtsovSarah Nemtsov||AbsenceL'Absence||the composer, after Livre des Questions by Edmond Jabès|
|2012-05-055 May 2012||WP||KimEunyoung Esther Kim (web)||Mama Dolorosa||Yona Kim|
|2012-05-1616 May 2012||WP||HerrmannArnulf Herrmann||Wasser||Nico Bleutge (lyrics)|
|201405077 May 2014||WP||NikodijevicMarko Nikodijević||Vivier||Gunther Geltinger (de), after the life and death of Claude Vivier|
|201405088 May 2014||WP||MoussaSamy Moussa (web)||Vastation||Toby Litt|
|2014051111 May 2014||VivierClaude Vivier||Kopernikus||opéra-rituel de mort, libretto by the composer|
|2014051717 May 2014||WP||SchnebelDieter Schnebel||Utopien|
|2014052222 May 2014||WP||ParraHéctor Parra||Das geopferte Leben||Marie NDiaye|
The Munich Biennale has provided first or early commissions for stage works from many composers now established as opera composers, such as Mark-Anthony Turnage, Detlev Glanert, Gerd Kühr, Hans-Jürgen von Bose, Param Vir, Toshio Hosokawa and Violeta Dinescu.
The strongly international scope of the festival has meant that it has been able to offer opportunities missing at a national level.
- Munich Biennale Concert Series: Biennale plus Ernst von Siemens music foundation 2010
- Hans Werner Henze: Komponist der Gegenwart. p. 117.
- festival history pages "Munich Biennale Official website". Munich Biennale. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
- Official website, archive notes to first biennale, 1988
- Official website, Klangspuren (discussion concerts) archive
- Salzman, Desi, p. 164
- Official website, archive notes to fifth biennale, 1996
- Dinescu's Eréndira was a co-commission with the Staatsoper Stuttgart, where it had its world premiere on 18 March 1992
- Battistelli's Teorema was a co-commission with the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, where it had its world premiere in the Teatro Comunale, on 10 May 1992
- Vir's operas Broken Strings and Snatched by the Gods were a co-commission with De Nederlandse Opera in Amsterdam, where they had their world premieres on 11 May 1992
- Tilt, Der Einsturz des Himmels and In Erwartung were presented in a triple bill entitled Amazonas
- Advance information for the 2014 edition from the Munich Biennale website. Retrieved 25 Dec 2013
- Salzman, Desi; p.222: ".. with one or two notable exceptions, the lively London theatre and music scene has not developed a strong creative music-theatre component. The result is that the Munich Biennale and the film industry have sometimes been better patrons for new British opera and music theatre than local musical institutions".
- münchener biennale Festival website Retrieved 13 March 2012
- Salzman, Eric; Desi, Thomas (2008). The New Music Theater: Seeing the Voice, Hearing the Body. Oxford University Press USA. ISBN 978-0-19-509936-2.
- Peter & Alexa Woolf: Munich Biennale 2000 (Contemporary Music Festival) 4-19 May 2000 (PGW & AW) musicweb-international.com 2000
- John Warnaby: Tenth Münchener Biennale musicweb-international.com 20 May 2006
- Komponieren für die reine Natur Münchener Merkur 23 April 2010 (German)
- Münchener Biennale / Urwald-Symphonie und surrealer Seelentrip Bayerischer Rundfunk 14 May 2010 (German)
- Gerhard Rohde: Münchener Biennale / Wozu der ganze Aufwand? FAZ 12 May 2010 (German)