Düsseldorf’s Auschwitz Tannhäuser wins the ultimate accolade

Düsseldorf’s Auschwitz Tannhäuser wins the ultimate accolade


norman lebrecht

October 02, 2013

The Burkhard C. Kosminski production that showed SS guards killing Jewish prisoners in a concentration camp has been awarded the coveted Opernwelt prize for Worst of the Year.

"Tannhäuser"-Oper in Düsseldorf

Other winners in the magazine’s annual round-up are:

Opera House of the year: Berlin Komische Oper

Performance of the year: Parsifal at the Vlaamese Opera Antwerp / Ghent, director Tatjana Gürbacas (also voted Director of the Year).



New opera: George Benjamin, Written on Skin.

Singer of the Year: Barbara Hannigan (for her performance in Written on Skin).

Orchestra of the Year: Dresden Staatskapelle.

Record of the Year: Cecilia Bartoli’s Norma



  • Difficult to argue with any of those gongs.

  • Simon says:

    Not exactly. There is no “award” for the worst production of the year, but the general categeory “Ärgernis des Jahres”, maybe to be translated as “annoyance of the year”, which may go to an opera company, a production, a general trend, whatever.

    This year’s “Ärgernis des Jahres” is “the careless handling of nazi symbols on opera stages. Increasingly, brown shirts, swastika armbands and and gas chambers appear again in productions. In most cases however, the exposition of evil on opera stages goes wrong and becomes the banality of stupidness.” (My translation, original here: http://www.kultiversum.de/Opernwelt/Opernhaus-des-Jahres.html). The Kosminski productions serves indeed as most prominent example for this phenomenon, but doesn’t recieve the gong exclusively.

    N.B. that the jury did’t categorically doom nazi allusions in opera productions, as you can read in the terms “careless” and “in most cases”.

    • Michael says:

      Thank you, Simon, for drawing our attention to precisely what the discussion about “Ärgernis des Jahres” was all about. The piece does not even say that the Kosminski Tannhäuser was the “most prominent example” of what annoyed the critics, simply that it was an example of a production which included some of the things that annoyed them – quite far from “the coveted Opernwelt prize for Worst of the Year” !

  • Martin says:

    Instead of headlining with the worst – or actullay rather most annoying – performance, you could have mentioned more positive things. I.e. you didn’t even felt the need to state who won the best costume award. Victoria Behr for her Three Sisters in Zurich and another production in Germany.

    Zurich’s production of Eötvös’ Three Sisters was outstanding and the costumes well worth a price – not onl for those onderful costimes by Victoria Behr. Hope Herbert Fritsch, who’s a well sought after director of the German theatre will lead more opera productions – I think this Three Sisters was first his one ever.

    Upon writing this, I found an interesting interview with Fritsch about the Three Sisters — In German. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pac0z_Ue94

    An excellently written review can be read here – in German – http://www.oper-aktuell.info/kritiken/details/artikel/zuerich-drei-schwestern-09032013.html This site also shows some pics of the costumes.

  • MWnyc says:

    Barbara Hannigan rocks!

  • Michael says:

    The headline “Düsseldorf’s Auschwitz Tannhäuser wins the ultimate accolade” was always going to attract far more reader attention – and subsequent comment – than “Victoria Behr wins best costume award”!

  • David Boxwell says:

    The travesty of Monty Verdi’s “Orfeo” currently at the Berlin Komsiche Oper confirms the award the company so richly deserves.