Sean Panikkar, Anne Sofie von Otter & Leonardo Capalbo Lead Komische Oper Berlin’s 2019-20 Season

By Nicole Kuchta

Komische Oper Berlin has announced its 2019-20 season.

This season will celebrate Dionysus, the forefather and protagonist of Greek theatre, with new productions reflecting the entire spectrum of musical theatre. Chief Director Barrie Kosky comments, “. . . [O]nce we believe in the power of theatre and music, believe in their intoxicating, seductive, physical, emotional, and ultimately community-building impacts, once we believe in all of this, we also believe in the Greek god Dionysus. I want to dedicate this time to him. For a year of opera!”

Premieres and Festivals

The season will open with Kosky’s production of Hans Werner Henze’s one-act opera “The Bassarids,” a “bloody tragedy about political demagogy and the seduction of the masses.” The cast will include Sean Panikkar as Dionysus, Günter Papendell as Pentheus, Jens Larsen as Cadmus, Ivan Turšić as Tiresias, Tom Erik Lie as The Head of the Royal Guard, Tanja Ariane Baumgartner as Agave, Vera-Lotte Böcker as Autonoe, and Margarita Nekrasova as Beroe. Vladimir Jurowski conducts.

Performance Dates: Oct. 13, 2019 – June 26, 2020

Michael Ende’s famous children’s book meets opera in Elena Kats-Chernin’s “Jim Knopf und Lukas der Lokomotivführer” (“Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver”). This children’s opera, with libretto in German by Susanne Felicitas, will feature Georgina Melville as Jim Button; Philipp Meierhöfer and Carsten Sabrowski as Luke; Dominik Köninger and Dániel Foki as King Alfred the Quarter-to-Twelfth / Nepomuk; Christiane Oertel and Caren van Oijen as Frau Waas / Frau Mahlzahn;, Christoph Späth as Herr Ärmel / Herr Tur Tur; Julia Domke as Ping Pong; and Alma Sadé as Princess Li Si, along with the Children’s Choir of Komische Oper Berlin.

Performance Dates: Nov. 3, 2019 – Feb. 24, 2020

Director Nicola Raab will make her Komische Oper Berlin debut with Verdi’s “La Traviata,” led by conductor Ainārs Rubiķis. Nadja Mchantaf and Vera-Lotte Böcker will star as Violetta Valéry, alongside Ivan Magrì and Alexey Neykludov as Alfredo Germont, and Günter Papendell and Giuseppe Altomare as Giorgio Germont.

Performance Dates: Dec. 4, 2019 – Jul. 4, 2020

Next in the lineup is the German premiere of Paul Abraham’s operetta “Dschainah, Das Mädchen aus dem Tanzhaus.” Hendrik Vestmann will conduct. The cast will feature Hera Hyesang Park as Dschainah Lylo, Johannes Dunz as Pierre Claudel, Zazie de Paris as Hortense Cliquot, Mirka Wagner as Yvonne, and Dániel Foki as Baron Bogumil.

Performance Dates: Dec. 22 & 30, 2019

Barrie Kosky’s new production of Jaromír Weinberger’s operetta “Jarní bouře” (“Spring Storms;” “Frühlingsstürme”) will be reconstructed and rearranged by Norbert Biermann. The cast will include Stefan Kurt as General Wladimir Katschalow, Alma Sadé and Mirka Wagner as Tatjana, Vera-Lotte Böcker and Kim-Lillian as Lydia Pawlowska, Dominik Köninger and Dániel Foki as Roderich Zirbitz, and Tansel Akzeybek and Johannes Dunz as Ito.

Performance Dates: Jan. 25 – Jun. 30, 2020

The music cabaret “Ich wollt’, ich wär’ ein Huhn!” will feature the music of composers Kurt Weill, Paul Dessau, Hanns Eisler, Friedrich Hollaender, Peter Kreuder, Theo Mackeben, and Michael Jary, who have their musical roots in Berlin. Performers include Anne Sofie von Otter and Wolfram Koch, with conductor Adam Benzwi.

Performance Dates: Mar. 6 – 15, 2020

The Jaromír Weinberger Festival will celebrate Czech composer Jaromír Weinberger, who is often overshadowed by Smetana, Dvořák and Janáček. The weekend will include an operetta pasticcio (“A propos, was macht der Kirschenkaiser?”), chamber concerts, and a small symposium in which musicologists and theater scholars will discover the different facets of the Jewish-Czech composer together with an interested audience.

Performance Dates: Mar. 27 – 29, 2020

Jaromír Weinberger’s Švanda dudák” (“Schwanda the Bagpiper;” “Schwanda, der Dudelsackpfeifer”) will led by Ainārs Rubiķis. The cast will feature Daniel Schmutzhard as Švanda , Sara Jakubiak as Dorotka, Ladislav Elgr as Babinský, Ursula Hesse as The Queen, Jens Larsen as The Magician, Johannes Dunz as The Judge, Ivan Turšić as The Executioner, Philip Meierhöfer as The Devil, and Timothy Oliver as The Devil Famulus.

Performance Dates: Mar. 29 – Jun. 28, 2020

Richard Jones directs Handel’s oratorio “Jephtha.” Baroque specialist Christian Curnyn will lead the orchestra. Featured vocalists will include Kresimir Spicer as Jephtha, Ezgi Kutlu as Storge, Anna Devin as Iphis, Eric Jurenas as Hamor, Philipp Meierhöfer as Zebul, and Soloists of the Tölz Boys Choir as Angel, alongside the Choral Soloists of the Komische Oper Berlin.

Performance Dates: May 17 – Jul. 3, 2020

Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov stages Stravinsky’s “The Rake’s Progress,” with conductor Jordan de Souza leading the orchestra. The cast will include Jens Larson as Trulove, Vera-Lotte Böcker as Anne Trulove, Tansel Akzeybek as Tom Rakewell, Evan Hughes as Nick Shadow, Ursula Hesse as Mother Goose, Agnes Zwierko as Baba the Turk, and Chandai Park as Keeper.

Performance Dates: Jun. 14 – Jul. 2, 2020

Komische Oper Festival will include ten days of opera for all the senses. Opera fans will have another chance to enjoy the whole range of new productions just before the end of the season, with a special supporting program for the eyes, ears, palate, and intellect – the audience gathers before each performance for music, drinks, lectures, and exciting discussions.

Performance Dates: Jun. 24 – Jul. 4, 2020

Repertory Productions

Leonard Bernstein’s comic operetta “Candide” will be led by Jordan de Souza and Magnus Loddgard. The production will star Tom Erik Lie and Franz Hawlata as Voltaire / Dr. Pangloss, Johannes Dunz as Candide, Meechot Marrero as Cunegonde, Fredrika Brillembourg and Anne Sofie von Otter as The Old Woman, Dominik Köninger and Dániel Foki as Maximilian, Maria Fiselier as Paquette, Timothy Oliver as Cacambo, Tom Erik Lie as Martin, and Ivan Turšić as Vanderdendur / Governor.

Performance Dates: Aug. 22 – Nov. 24, 2019

Paul Abraham’s soccer operetta “Roxy und ihr Wunderteam” will be staged by Stefan Huber and conducted by Kai Tietje. The cast will include Uwe Schönbeck as Sam Cheswick, Christoph Marti as Roxy, Johannes Dunz as Bobby Wilkins, Tobias Bonn as Gjurka Karoly, Andreja Schneider as Aranka von Totossy, Christoph Späth as Baron Szalmary, Jörn-Felix Alt as Jani Hatschek, and Mathias Schlung as Hotel Director / Customs Officer / Kovacz / Misksa / Radio Speaker.

Performance Dates: Aug. 23 – Oct. 6, 2019

A co-production with Opernhaus Zürich, Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” will be staged by Barrie Kosky and conducted by Ainārs Rubiķis. Günter Papendell stars in the title role alongside Ruzan Mantashyan as Tatyana, Maria Fiselier as Olga, Aleš Briscein as Lensky, Stefanie Schaefer as Larina, Tijl Faveyts as Prince Gremin, Margarita Nekrasova as Filippyevna, Christoph Späth as Triquet, Changdai Park as Zaretsky, Carsten Lau and Jan-Frank Sweet as Company Commander, and Yuhei Sato as Guillot.

Performance Dates: Aug. 30 – Sept. 27, 2019

Adam Benzwi will conduct Oscar Straus’ operetta “Die Perlen der Cleopatra” (“The Pearls of Cleopatra”). Dagmar Manzel will star as Cleopatra, alongside Stefan Sevenich as Pampylos, Dominik Köninger as Silvius, Talya Lieberman as Charman, Johannes Dunz as Beladonis, and Peter Renz as Marcus Antonius / Kophra.

Performance Dates: Sept. 12 – Dec. 14, 2019

Frank Thannhäuser and Nico Rabenald’s German version of Leonard Bernstein’s musical “West Side Story” will be staged by Barrie Kosky, choreographed by Otto Pichler, and conducted by Koen Schoots. Katja Reichert and Alma Sadé star as Maria alongside Tansel Akzeybek and Johannes Dunz as Tony. Rounding out the cast are Azzurra Adinolfi and Sigalit Feig as Anita, Christoph Jonas as Riff, Peter Renz as Doc, Carsten Sabrowski as Schrank, and Dennis Weißert as Krupke.

Performance Dates: Sept. 18 – Dec. 31, 2019

Oscar Straus’ comic operetta “Eine Frau, die weiß, was sie will!” (“A Woman Who Knows What She Wants!”) will star Dagmar Manzel and Max Hopp in multiple roles. Adam Benzwi will lead the orchestra.

Performance Dates: Oct. 19 – Nov. 22, 2019

A co-production with the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Barrie Kosky’s magical production of Mozart’s “Die Zauberflöte” features Tamino in the stomach of a dragon, the Queen of the Night as a giant spider, dancing constellations, and flying butterflies. Ainārs Rubiķis and Hendrik Vestmann will conduct. Amanda Forsythe, Vera-Lotte Böcker, Lavinia Dames, Sydney Mancasola, and Alma Sadé will star as Pamina; Tansel Akzeybek and Jussi Myllys as Tamino; Danae Kontora and Aleksandra Olczyk as Queen of the Night; Tijl Faveyts and Jens Larsen as Sarastro; Tom Erik Lie, Evan Hughes, and Dominik Köninger as Papageno; Georgina Melville as Papagena; Ivan Turšić as Monstatos; Mirka Wagner as First Lady; Marta Mika, Maria Fiselier, and Karolina Gumos as Second Lady; Caren van Oijen and Marta Mika as Third Lady; Christoph Späth and Johannes Dunz as Erster Geharnischter Mann; Changdai Park and Carsten Sabrowski as Zweiter Geharnischter Mann; and Soloists of the Tölzer Knabenchor Choir as Three Child Spirits.

Performance Dates: Nov. 9, 2019 – Feb. 21, 2020

Barrie Kosky directs Handel’s “Semele,” with orchestra led by Konrad Junghänel. The cast will include Stuart Jackson as Jupiter, Ezgi Kutlu as Juno, Philipp Meierhöfer as Cadmus, Sydney Mancasola as Semele, Karolina Gumos as Ino, Terry Wey as Athamas, and Evan Hughes as Somnus.

Performance Dates: Dec. 4 – 29, 2019

Ainārs Rubiķis will conduct Barrie Kosky’s production of Verdi’s “Rigoletto.” Leonardo Capalbo is set to star as the Duke. Joining him will be Hera Hyesang Park as Gilda; Tijl Faveyts as Sparafucile / Il Conte di Monterone; Changdai Park as Il Conte di Ceprano / Un Usciere di Corte; Maria Fiselier as La Contessa di Ceprano / Maddalena / Giovanna / Paggio; and Dániel Foki as Marullo.

Performance Dates: Feb. 7 – Mar. 21, 2020

Herbert Fritsch directs Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” with German text by Sabrina Zwach. Jordan de Souza will conduct. The cast will include Günter Papendell in the title role, alongside Nadja Mchantaf as Donna Anna, Stefan Cifolelli as Don Ottavio, Tijl Faveyts as the Commendatore, Karolina Gumos as Donna Elvira, Evan Hughes as Leporello, and Georgina Melville and Marta Mika as Zerlina.

Performance Dates: Feb. 20 – Apr. 1, 2020

Jerry Bock’s musical “Anatevka” (or “Fiddler on the Roof”), with German text by Rolf Munz and Gerhard Hagen, will be staged by Barrie Kosky and conducted by Koen Schoots. Max Hopp and Markus John star as Tevye, alongside Dagmar Manzel as Golde, Talya Lieberman as Tzeitel, Alma Sadé as Hodel, and Maria Fiselier as Chava. Rounding out the cast are Barbara Spitz as Yente, Johannes Dunz as Motel Kamzoil, Kurosch Abbasi and Ezra Jung as Perchik, Carsten Sabrowski and Jens Larsen as Lazar Wolf, Peter Renz as Rabbi, Sigalit Feig as Fruma-Sarah / Grandma Tzeitel, and Ivan Turšić as Fyedka.

Performance Dates: Feb. 28 – Jun. 17, 2020

A co-production with the Mannheim National Theatre, Debussy’s “Pelléas et Mélisande” will be led by Jordan de Souza. The cast will feature Jens Larsen as Arkel, Nadine Weissmann as Geneviève, Dominik Köninger as Pelléas, Günter Papendell as Golaud, Nadja Mchantaf as Mélisande, Soloists of the Tölz Boys Choir as Yniold, and Changdai Park as Doctor / The Man’s Voice.

Performance Dates: Apr. 8 – 26, 2020

A co-production with the Abu Dhabi Festival, Puccini’s “La Bohème” will feature Madja Mchantaf and Ruzan Mantashyan as Mimi, Heidi Stober and Vera-Lotte Böcker as Musetta, Joshua Guerrero as Rodolfo, Jacques Imbrailo as Marcello, Evan Hughes and Dániel Foki as Schaunard, Philipp Meierhöfer as Colline, and Carsten Sabrowski and Christoph Späth as Alcindoro. Jordan de Souza and Alexander Joel will conduct.

Performance Dates: Apr. 18 – Jun. 20, 2020

Pierangelo Valtinoni’s “Der Zauberer von Oz” (“The Wizard of Oz”) will feature German text by Hanna Francesconi. Staged by Felix Seiler, the production will star Alma Sadé as Dorothy. She will be joined by Christoph Späth as Scarecrow, Dániel Foki as Tin Man, Carsten Sabrowski as Cowardly Lion, Mirka Wagner as The Good Witch of the North / The Good Witch of the South, Christiane Oertel as The Wicked Witch of the West, and Karsten Küsters as The Wizard of Oz / The Guardian of the Gate.

Performance Dates: Apr. 23 – Jun. 17, 2020


Alma Sadé and Helene Schneiderman will perform a virtuoso song recital, accompanied by director Barrie Kosky. During “Farge mikh nit Jiddische Operettenlieder,” the trio will revive a forgotten genre: the Yiddish operetta, with songs about exile, loneliness, homesickness, and lust for life in spite of all odds.

Performance Dates: Oct. 12, 2019 & Jan. 12, 2020

Dagmar Manzel will appear in recital with pianist Frank Schulte, double bassist Arnulf Ballhorn, guitarist Ralf Templin, violinist Daniela Braun, and accordianist Felix Kroll. They will perform works by Werner Richard Heymann, Friedrich Hollaender, Jaques Offenbach, Robert Schumann, Helmut Oehring, Hanns Eisler, and Pete Seeger.

Performance Date: Oct. 31, 2019

Soprano Nihan İnan will perform alongside pianist Fazil Say, ney flutist Burcu Karadağ, and percussionist Aykut Köselerli. The program will include Say’s “Hezarfen” for Ney Flute and Orchestra, Op. 39 and “Goethe-Lieder” for Soprano and String Orchestra with Percussion, Op. 44, as well as Beethoven’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, No. 5, Op. 73. Jordan de Souza will conduct.

Performance Date: Nov. 15, 2019

Ainārs Rubiķis will lead a performance of Nikolai A. Rimski-Korsakow’s Suite from “Snow Maiden,” Ravel’s “Scheherazade” Song Cycle, Op. 41, and Brahms’ Double Concerto for Violin, Violincello and Orchestra in A-Minor, Op. 102. Featured performers will include soprano Nadja Mchantaf, violinist Isabelle Faust, and cellist Marie-Elisabeth Hecker.

Performance Date: Dec. 6, 2019

Katharine Mehrling and director Barrie Kosky will present “Lonely House: Songs and Chansons of Kurt Weill,” featuring French and American songs from the composer’s exile in Paris and New York.

Performance Dates: Dec. 8, 2019 & Jan. 19, 2020

The New Year’s Concert will feature Austrian actress, singer, and dancer Ruth Brauer-Kvam as a singer and moderator. Ainārs Rubiķis will conduct jazz compositions by George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, and John Kander, among others.

Performance Date: Jan. 1, 2020

Mezzo-soprano Karolina Gumos will be featured in the chamber concert “Händel im Mai.” The program will include sonatas, cantatas, and concerti by Handel, performed on historical instruments. Gumos will be joined by violinists Daniela Braun and Peter Wünnenberg, violist Susanne Fliegel, cellist Inken Ewertsen, double bassist Jesper Ulfenstedt, lutist Thomas Ihlenfeldt, and harpsichordist Lutz Kohl.

Performance Date: May 18, 2020