Congratulations! This award sets an example: Ulrike Schwab receives the MORTIER NEXT GENERATION award. No prize focuses so clearly on the vision of a different, perhaps new music theater as this internationally renowned award in memory of the great music theater mastermind and enabler Gerald Mortier. What a compelling choice!
The award ceremony will take place in Salzburg in August – in the midst of rehearsals for the new installation of her GIOVANNI production with the STEGREIF.orchestra in the Prinzessinnengärten. We are very happy with and for her – especially because this award honors an artistic position and handwriting that – in my eyes – is extraordinary. I think those who remember the many highly energetic evenings with Ulrike Schwab know what I mean. She came to our house 13 years ago as a singer in this furious production called MITLEID (after Parsifal). Where is there a singer who artistically deals with herself in such a radical, uncompromising and risk-taking way, with her voice and body as instruments of an immense will to perform, with a determination that affects everyone and everything? So unique was she in all subsequent productions, whether in SCHWINDEL, EXIT PARADISE and in Bretan’s GOLEM. And so is her directing style. Wasn’t the subsequent study of musical theater directing the logical consequence of this understanding of theater?
Already her first direction at our house: a (in my opinion) sensation. Still in the context of our study project with the HfM and little more than one scene, everything was there that constitutes her vision and precision, pictorial power and handwriting: three singing, speaking, making music men in the “women’s opera” ARMIDA, in the sense of Gluck, who revolutionized opera at that time, today retold, live and with players, an ingenious bridging of time levels, the historical and present dimension with its discourses… Rarely have I said too unreservedly Yes! Go ahead! to a play proposal when I invited her to direct in the hall, our “big stage,” and she suggested that I stage Humperdinck’s children’s and compulsory opera Hansel and Gretel, often soft-pedaled to the point of unbearability – only not at Christmas time and for adults. In short: WOLFSKINDER, which premiered in January 2018, made her poetics shine, a theater flowing between singers and musicians, suggestion and openness, historical material and present-day urgency, simply called “theater miracle” in the press. The following year, by the way, we had three productions by Ulrike Schwab on the schedule, in addition to WOLFSKINDERN her “Einsamkeitsstudie” and Frau Luna-Assoziation IST DIE WELT AUCH NOCH SO SCHÖN as well as the long prepared premiere of Mozart’s GIOVANNI. I had chosen and invited her and the STEGREIF.orchestra for this – in the hope that her directing style and the ensemble’s special, improvisational way of working would not only get along, but complement, inspire, and perhaps even potentiate each other. What happened? In their strengths and idiosyncrasies, both have elevated themselves to a new, highly expressive level: Compliments once again for what makes this production so unique!
These days we are in the approach to another adventure: to bring the GIOVANNI production into the originally intended place, into the open, natural surroundings of the New St. Jacobi Cemetery. And at the same time – if everything works out – to create an immersive film version for EuroArts.
Thirteen years, eight productions with Ulrike Schwab as singer and director lie behind us, a fruitful time in which she has developed her own unmistakable signature in the environment of the diverse border crossings and aesthetics of our so different teams and pieces. Years in which we have accompanied and supported her with commissions and the resources of the Neukölln Opera. I am looking forward to our appointment for next year: one of the most multi-layered of Richard Strauss’ operas. One that I love and that I think should finally be told “properly,” that is, “more deeply” and differently. I am looking forward to what will come to us with Ulrike.
Bernhard Glocksin, Artistic Director