In memoriam: Rolf Hochhuth (1931-2020): playwright and Querdenker; his first and best-known work, Der Stellvertreter, criticized the inaction of Pope Pius XII in World War II.  (Deutsche Welle, 5/14/20; The Telegraph, 5/18/20)

Since the 17th century, the people of Oberammergau have kept their promise to perform the Passion Play almost every tenth year, “celebrating their salvation from one pandemic—until another pandemic forced them to break it.” The play is now postponed until 2022.  (The New York Times, 4/5/2020)

The cultural venues may be closed, but Covid-19 has opened up their performances to wider (online) audiences than ever before.  (The Guardian, 3/16/20)

Onstage in February 2020: René Pollesch renews the world at the Friedrichstadt-Palast, while King Lear’s daughters Regan and Goneril dismantle patriarchy at the Münchner Kammerspiele.  (The New York Times, 2/13/20)

Jaromir Weinberger’s Frühlingsstürme, “the last operetta of the Weimar Republic,” is back on stage at the Komische Oper.  (The New York Times, 1/26/20)

The music from Bartok’s opera Bluebeard’s Castle is entering the public domain—and so Tanztheater Wuppertal is reviving Pina Bausch’s “Bluebeard” for the first time since 1994.  (The New York Times,  1/15/20)

In memoriam: Harry Kupfer (1935–2019), “a towering figure in opera production with a career spanning 60 years.” (The New York Times, 1/3/20; The Guardian, 1/9/20)

Kudos to Heartbeat Opera in NYC for their new take on Der Freischütz: “A fantastic work about the end of the Thirty Years’ War, magic bullets, and winning women with violence has taken on, with remarkably little adaptation necessary, hot-button issues like gun culture, toxic masculinity and the plight of returning soldiers.”  (The New York Times, 11/28/19; The New York Times, 12/5/19)

“Strauss and Hofmannsthal operatically imagined in 1919 the possible relevance of a spiritually dedicated empress for the 20th century, her beauty embellished by harps and tuned to a solo violin in the key of E-flat.” You’ll want to see Die Frau ohne Schatten after reading this piece by Larry Wolff.  (The New York Times, 10/12/19)

The far-right AfD party is turning up the pressure on Germany’s theaters and opera houses. They’re hitting back forcefully, with action and satire.  (Financial Times, 8/26/19; The Atlantic, 10/28/19)

In praise of Richard Strauss’s Salome: “The score is at once staggeringly original, more than a little trashy, and unsettling in its sexual and racial politics. When the clarinet slithers up a disjointed scale at the outset of the piece, the curtain effectively goes up on twentieth-century music.”  (The New Yorker, 8/21/19)