The Munich Biennale (German: Münchener Biennale) is a contemporary opera and music theatre 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.
Hans Werner Henze's artistic directorship (1988–1996)
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.
Peter Ruzicka's artistic directorship (1996–2014)
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.
Manos Tsangaris and Daniel Ott's artistic directorship (2016–)
The composers Manos Tsangaris and Daniel Ott took over as joint artistic directors of the Biennale, starting in 2016. Their approach to curation further expanded the festival's remit beyond opera, to reflect an 'expanded composition term' and the 'open field' of new music theatre which spans '[f]rom new opera to scenic installation, from minimalized artistic interventions in municipal spaces to composed performance'.
Operas given at the Munich Biennale
World premieres are marked as WP
|Premiere||Composer||Title||Libretto and source|
|29 May 1988||WP||Detlev Glanert||Leyla und Medjnun||Aras Ören and Peter Schneider, after the epic poem by Nizami|
|3 Jun 1988||WP||Gerd Kühr||Stallerhof||Franz Xaver Kroetz, after his own play|
|4 Jun 1988||WP||Adriana Hölszky||Bremer Freiheit||Thomas Körner (librettist), after the play by Rainer Werner Fassbinder|
|17 Jun 1988||WP||Mark-Anthony Turnage||Greek||the composer and Jonathan Moore, after the play by Steven Berkoff|
|26 Apr 1990||WP||András Hamary||Seid still||José Vera Morales, after the play Tóték by István Örkény|
|28 Apr 1990||WP||Wolfgang von Schweinitz||Patmos||D. E. Sattler, after the Apocalypse of St John in Martin Luther's translation|
|6 May 1990||WP||Hans-Jürgen von Bose||63: Dream Palace||the composer, after the novella by James Purdy|
|14 May 1990||WP||Michèle Reverdy||Le Précepteur||Hans-Ulrich Treichel, after the play Der Hofmeister by Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz|
|7 May 1992||||Violeta Dinescu||Eréndira||Monika Rothmaier, after the story The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Eréndira and Her Heartless Grandmother by Gabriel García Márquez|
|29 Apr 1992||WP||Jorge Liderman||Antigona Furiosa||the composer, after the drama by Griselda Gambaro|
|27 May 1992||||Giorgio Battistelli||Teorema||the composer, loosely after the film by Pier Paolo Pasolini|
|16 May 1992||WP||Gerhard Stäbler||Sünde.Fall.Beil||Andreas Lechner, after the drama Catherine Howard by Alexandre Dumas père|
|22 May 1992||||Param Vir||Broken Strings||David Rudkin, after the Buddhist story Guttil Jatak|
|22 May 1992||||Param Vir||Snatched by the Gods||William Radice, after the poem Debatar Gras by Rabindranath Tagore|
|1 May 1994||WP||Tania León||Scourge of Hyacinths||the composer, after the radio play by Wole Soyinka|
|19 May 1994||WP||Benedict Mason||Playing Away||Howard Brenton|
|4 Dec 1996||WP||Michael Obst||Solaris||the composer, after the novel by Stanislaw Lem|
|9 Dec 1996||WP||Hanna Kulenty||The Mother of Black-Winged Dreams||Paul Goodwin|
|14 Apr 1997||WP||Roderick Watkins||The Juniper Tree||Patricia Debney, after the folk tale by the Brothers Grimm|
|19 Apr 1998||WP||Toshio Hosokawa||Vision of Lear||Tadashi Suzuki, after his stage play The Tale of Lear|
|21 Apr 1998||WP||Sandeep Bhagwati||Ramanujan||the composer, after the life of Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887–1920)|
|25 Apr 1998||WP||Jan Müller-Wieland||Komödie ohne Titel||the composer, after the drama Comedia sin título by Federico García Lorca|
|19 Apr 1999||WP||Mauricio Sotelo||De Amore||Peter Mussbach|
|10 May 2000||WP||Chaya Czernowin||Pnima ... ins Innere|
|27 Apr 2002||WP||André Werner||Marlowe: Der Jude von Malta||the composer, after the play The Jew of Malta by Christopher Marlowe|
|3 May 2002||WP||Manfred Stahnke||Orpheus Kristall||Simone Homem de Mello|
|12 May 2004||WP||Johannes Maria Staud||Berenice||Durs Grünbein, after Edgar Allan Poe|
|25 May 2004||WP||Brian Ferneyhough||Shadowtime||Charles Bernstein|
|9 May 2006||WP||Aureliano Cattaneo||La Philosophie dans le labyrinthe||Edoardo Sanguineti, after the Greek myth of the Minotaur|
|18 May 2006||WP||José María Sánchez-Verdú||GRAMMA||the composer|
|17 Apr 2008||WP||Enno Poppe||Arbeit Nahrung Wohnung||Marcel Beyer, loosely after the novel Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe|
|18 Apr 2008||WP||Klaus Lang||Die Architektur des Regens||after the Noh play Shiga by Zeami (c1363–c1443)|
|23 Apr 2008||WP||Carola Bauckholt||hellhörig||(none)|
|30 Apr 2008||WP||Jens Joneleit||Piero – Ende der Nacht||Michael Herrschel, loosely after the novel Die Rote by Alfred Andersch|
|27 Apr 2010||WP||Philipp Maintz||Maldoror||Thomas Fiedler, after Les Chants de Maldoror by Comte de Lautréamont|
|28 Apr 2010||WP||Márton Illés||Die weiße Fürstin||after the first draft of the dramatic poem by Rainer Maria Rilke|
|5 May 2010||WP||Klaus Schedl||Tilt||Roland Quitt, after the diary of Sir Walter Raleigh|
|5 May 2010||WP||Tato Taborda||Der Einsturz des Himmels||Roland Quitt, after the book La Chute du Ciel by Davi Kopenawa and Bruce Albert|
|5 May 2010||WP||Ludger Brummer (web)||In Erwartung||Peter Weibel|
|9 May 2010||WP||Lin Wang||Die Quelle||the composer and Can Xue, after a story "the Double Life" by Can Xue|
|3 May 2012||WP||Sarah Nemtsov||L'Absence||the composer, after Livre des Questions by Edmond Jabès|
|5 May 2012||WP||Eunyoung Esther Kim (web)||Mama Dolorosa||Yona Kim|
|16 May 2012||WP||Arnulf Herrmann||Wasser||Nico Bleutge (lyrics)|
|7 May 2014||WP||Marko Nikodijević||Vivier||Gunther Geltinger, after the life and death of Claude Vivier|
|8 May 2014||WP||Samy Moussa (web)||Vastation||Toby Litt|
|11 May 2014||Claude Vivier||Kopernikus||opéra-rituel de mort, libretto by the composer|
|17 May 2014||WP||Dieter Schnebel||Utopien|
|22 May 2014||WP||Héctor 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 Archived 30 July 2012 at archive.today Ernst von Siemens music foundation 2010
- Kerstan, Michael; Wolken, Clemens (2006). Hans Werner Henze: Komponist der Gegenwart. p. 117. ISBN 9783894875367.
- "Munich Biennale Official website". Munich Biennale. Archived from the original on 12 February 2013. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
- Official website, archive notes to first biennale, 1988 Archived 5 September 2012 at archive.today
- Official website, Klangspuren (discussion concerts) archive Archived 1 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- Salzman, Desi, p. 164
- Official website, archive notes to fifth biennale, 1996
- "The Munich Biennale for Music Theatre as a Form of Artistic Research – DARE conferences".
- "Press – Münchener Biennale".
- 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 (in German)
- Münchener Biennale / Urwald-Symphonie und surrealer Seelentrip[permanent dead link] Bayerischer Rundfunk 14 May 2010 (in German)
- Gerhard Rohde: Münchener Biennale / Wozu der ganze Aufwand? FAZ 12 May 2010 (in German)