Obituary: Regietheater Champion Hans Neuenfels Dies at 80

By David Salazar
(Credit: Oliver Mark)

Famed opera director Hans Neuenfels passed away on Feb. 6, 2022. He was 80-years-old.

Born on May 31, 1941 in Krefeld, Germany, he studied at the Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna and quickly established himself as a major proponent of the German Regietheater movement.

In the opera world, he led productions at the Salzburg Festival, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and Bayreuth Festival, often drawing controversy for his staging choices. Among his most notable productions was a rendition of “Lohengrin” at the Bayreuth Festival which set the opera in a laboratory and showcased the chorus members as lab rats. In a Frankfurt production of “Aida” from 1980, he showcased the title character in Verdi’s drama as a cleaning woman in a contemporary setting.

He also directed the world premiere of “Die Wände” at the Vienna State Opera” and was voted opera director of the year in 2004 and 2008.

Per Operabase, he recently directed a production of “Ariadne auf Naxos” at the Vienna State Opera and was scheduled to direct a revival of “Die Entführung aus dem Serail,” also at the Vienna State Opera, this March.

In addition to his work as an opera director, he also wrote a number of works and also directed several films about such figures as Genet, Strindberg, Kleist, and Musil; he also directed operas on film and led TV productions of “Die Fledermaus” and “Die Entführung aus dem Serail.”

Here is a preview of his “Lohengrin” production.