Sex and crime and music: Barrie Kosky’s „Poppea“ as postdramatic music theatre

Conference Theatre and Internationalisation + Barrie Kosky: Past, Present, Future. International Studies: Languages and Cultures, Faculty of Arts, Macquarie University, in co-operation with the Goethe-Institute, Sydney, 26. bis 27. April 2019, 2019.

Bei der Konferenz der Macquarie University Sydney, die vom 26. bis 28. April unter dem Titel Theatre and Internationalisation + Barry Kosky: Past, Present, Future in Sydney/Australien stattfand, waren mit Ulrike Hartung und Benjamin Hoesch auch Mitglieder der Forschungsgruppe vertreten. Im Kontext der Tagung, die sich mit dem Zusammenspiel von Theater und Internationalisierung, beziehungsweise den Auswirkungen der Globalisierung auf die darstellenden Künste und Kunstschaffenden auseinandersetzte, platzierte die Forschungsgruppe zwei Vorträge:

  • Dr. Ulrike Hartung: Sex, Crime, and Music: Barrie Kosky’s Poppea as Postdramatic Music Theatre
  • Benjamin Hoesch, M.A.: Young artists – international markets: European festivals of contemporary theatre

Sex, Crime, and Music: Barrie Kosky’s Poppea as Postdramatic Music Theatre

The theatrical landscape in the German-speaking countries is unique. Funded directly by the state or by individual municipalities, opera houses receive most of their subsidization. On the basis of this financial situation, one might assume that opera producers dispose of a certain artistic freedom, however, these opera houses are dominated by a certain homogeneous aesthetic called Regietheater (Director’s theatre). This aesthetic, developed in the early 1970s, focuses on hermeneutic interpretation of opera sujets that are constituent components of the repertoire. Giving it a new contemporary look Regietheater intends to make these sujets relevant for its contemporary audience.

As I stated in my dissertation Postdramatisches Musiktheater, alternative concepts of staging opera emerged approximately 20 years ago. These concepts were developed far from the large stages of opera houses, and follow theatrical strategies derived from what German theatre scholar Hans-Thies Lehmann called “postdramatic theatre”. Similar to the way Regietheater originated in drama, postdramatic theatre is an umbrella term for aesthetic tendencies which Lehmann observed in spoken theatre. Since the early 2000s these tendencies can also be found in opera productions.

This paper will attempt to point out the aesthetic differences between these two concepts of opera stagings. It considers Barrie Kosky’s Poppea (Schauspielhaus Vienna, 2003) that compiles baroque opera (L’incoronazione di Poppea by Claudio Monteverdi) with songs by Cole Porter as a vivid example for postdramatic music theatre.

Dr. Ulrike Hartung

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