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It was never at the Zurich Opera house

A major new production at the Zurich Opera house staged by a woman and also a woman conducts. The there were never. Reason enough, the two ladies in the hall of mirrors to ask for a conversation about the increasing femininity of the Opera company.

But as they sit now, the 48-year-old Dutch Director Jetske Mijnssen, and the 57-year-old French conductor Emmanuelle Haïm, and waving. We need to actually talk about women's issues? "In everyday life, it does not matter that we are women," says Haïm, "we just have to be good." And Mijnssen, not to the slides that you had never been at a disadvantage, "really". Much rather they would talk about the piece, the grandiose Baroque Opera "Hippolyte et Aricie" by Jean-Philippe Rameau. Or on the work with the Ensemble. Or...

the Same, just a couple of questions. To Emmanuelle Haïm first of all, How she came up with the idea to become a conductor? To choose a profession that was for a very long time is purely a man's profession? "I just wanted to make it so," she says, and waves his hands through the air, "I don't know why." Very young she was eight or nine years have been at the time, old.

It took a while until they "could do"; only, she established herself as a harpsichordist, founded her own Ensemble, Le Concert d'astrée. At some point, she says, it was self-confidence large enough to conduct actually. Today, she's doing it everywhere: in the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra, several theatres, at the Lucerne Festival and now, for the first time at the Zurich Opera house.

of scepticism about mothers

The word "self-confidence" is by the way, but trivial it is not. Of Directors has used the Opera world, since Ruth Berghaus celebrated in the 1950s, their first successes (and scandals). But the conductor inside, the are really famous, until today, not a dozen. And those who want to slide down, stand still in the wind – less with the audience than with the orchestras.

The says the Zurich Opera house's artistic Director Andreas Homoki during a conversation a few days later. The Philharmonia Zurich is pleasant, not least because of the many musicians; but many orchestras are still occupied predominantly male, "and the orchestra musicians are not always nice." Since it is not just about a conductor, but also to Codes, to role-images: "Because you have to want to."

image to enlarge

Emmanuelle Haïm wanted to because: "If there was resistance, I ran against it, boom, again, boom, the wall had a hole in it." Jetske Mijnssen nods: The Stage was similar to that of the will has to be big. "I never got in trouble, had to do with: I knew exactly what I wanted, and was not to object not accessible."

A few she has heard, however, but, ironically, in their open-minded Dutch home: "Not as a simply woman, but as a staged a mother, I was assessed there, skeptical." This, even though they have always ensured that the support of their daughters was regulated in such a way that the work was not affected: "We are organised, even if it breaks sometimes in the heart." Last week, she has the 13. Birthday of her younger daughter not to be missed, "I could just get out of here".

Others give up in such moments. The Andreas Homoki says: "There are many young, clever women who have a good Start and pull back, if you have children." This is in the Opera similar to other industries. Because the Job is hard: Who can direct, is six weeks away from home. Who conducts, even longer, because after the rehearsals and the Premiere of the other performances are pending. And the social expectations make it easier: "in the Opera house, the traditional pattern are still present," says Homoki, "the man makes a career, for the woman, the family is a priority."

specialty children's operas

Although it has done in the last few years. So Emmanuelle Haïm has the once-standard question of what to wear to a conductor, not for a long time. Different Symphony orchestra, and individual Opera orchestra, chief conductor of the interior. And it is likely to have consequences that there are now a couple of operas, Director of the interior – including Amsterdam, Lille, Strasbourg and Graz.

But the path towards equality is still far. As Director and conductor of the interior system with children's operas employed. And if you are conducting in the main program, then it's usually not the media effective premieres, but the far less glamorous. Even Simone Young, who has made chief conductor of the Hamburg state Opera, a major pioneer inside of career, leads this season, only older productions (one each in Zurich, Vienna, and Berlin, three in Munich).

"I have been involved with women as well, of course, as I have been involved with men."Andreas Homoki, the Zurich Opera house's artistic Director

Of quotas, as currently being negotiated in the drama, like to talk in the Opera, therefore, no one: they wouldn't stand a chance in a division in which women are still single cases. But after all, there are more individual cases. And, above all, one has the impression that the houses in the woman question gradually like to progress.

Is that so, Andreas Homoki? Already, he says, "it will be discussed on the Opera conferences on the promotion of women." For him, the gender, however, is not a criterion: "I have been involved with women as well, of course, as I have been involved with men. If it fits, I am happy. But if I can't find any suitable, then so be it."

Jetske Mijnssen, he found early, it has launched its breakthrough at the Komische Oper in Berlin, as Homoki there Director. Also Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla, the most successful among the younger Conductors, he would have discovered early on; he listened to in 2013 (from Mijnssen directed) "Traviata" with her, as she was a choir mistress in Bern. Great it was that he had made to her at the next opportunity, a quote: "But her career was still faster than we are." He was supposed to propose to her at the time, a new production, "since I was too cautious; but I would have been a Newcomer-man".

Aggressive reactions

Back in the hall of mirrors. There Jetske Mijnssen and Emmanuelle Haïm have come, in the meantime, however, in the case of Rameau, to be more precise: in the character of Phèdre. She is the wife of Theseus, falls in love with her stepson Hippolyte, of the loves, in turn, Aricie. Many it is regarded as a difficult character, says Mijnssen, "but I like you so very much for your Problem! She is old, her husband is always away and has other women, and there was this beautiful step-son..."

And now, in the musical discussion, talking about the two but into the fire. Also Haïm like this Phèdre, strong and simultaneously vulnerable, "you have to listen to your music". And Mijnssen tells the story of the Clash, the experience at almost every staging, "because I don't like to show the female characters as victims." Thus, for instance, Constance a was in its Essen production of Mozart's "abduction from the seraglio" quite voluntarily with the Bassa Selim, because her marriage with Belmonte had become boring. The reactions were aggressive, says the Director, "I was able to sit after the Premiere downright against the Boos".

Here is the key for the reluctance is that Mijnssen and Haïm on women's issues speak: you don't want to be seen as a victim, you are not. You have done it. And they are convinced that others will do it also. It need time, says Haïm, "but there will always be more young female Conductor, and Director to come inside, and allow more and more good". This will then be engaged, does not doubt it: "Why shouldn't you?"

But this is future music, the last question is about the present: Have women operating today, it is even harder in the Opera than men? No, say Jetske Mijnssen and Emmanuelle Haïm. Yes, says Andreas Homoki.

Premiere of "Hippolyte et Aricie" in the Zurich Opera house: 19. May.On 7. June, there are also in the Basel theatre Premiere with a female double-tip: Jommelli, "Didone abbandonata" has Daniela Dolci staged the musical Director, Lotte de Beer.

(editing Tamedia)

Created: 15.05.2019, 08:14 PM

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