Dresden update: Serge Dorny was ‘acting like the Sun King’

The Saxon arts minister Minister Sabine von Schorlemer held a press conference today with the Staatskapelle music director Christian Thielemann in an attempt to dispel any confusion over her sacking of the Semper Oper director, Serge Dorny.

 

The minister said Dorny had emailed her with a long list of changes he wanted to make – to the company’s logo, marketing, the programming of the Staatskapelle, and more. In the email, he apparently threatened to resign if his demands were not met. When no agreement could be reached with him, the minister said, Dorny was given notice.

‘I would have preferred it if the affair could have been settled quietly and in mutual agreement. But that was impossible after the last meeting which I don’t want to go into further,’ said von Schorlemer.

She added that working with Dorny had proved more difficult that envisaged and that he had spoken badly of Semper employees.

Thielemann said that relations between him and Dorny had initially been ‘cordial’. They shared common interests, such as wine. However, when Dorny opposed plans to stage a new Ring over the 2015-17 seasons, ‘I was speechless…’ He added: ‘Lyon is a different world. He’s president there and has all the power.’

Asked about his own role in Dresden, Thielemann said he was contracted to conduct 15 times a season. ‘I feel very comfortable in the Semper Oper,’ he added.

 

UPDATE: Von Schorlemer later told MDR television that Dorny issued her with an ultimatum: either she agree to all of his conditions or he’ll quit. She said he acted like he was the Sun King, without any consideration for the Semperoper team.

Thielemann also told MDR: ‘I ascertained that he wasn’t interested in working together. While we shared a Schnitzel and a glass of wine privately, he went to the minister afterwards and asked her to disempower me. I don’t know if that’s really such a fortunate way to behave.’

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  • Paul Thomason says:

    Really, how difficult is it to get Thielemann’s position correct? It is not music director of the Staatskapelle, but Principal Conductor.

    • sdReader says:

      Paul, this blog, with a hundred stories a week, all managed and delivered by one person at no charge, is not trying to be some perfect repository of details. Be happy that it exists.

      • Rosana Martins says:

        sdReader, I couldn’t agree with you more! Slipped Disc enriches my life every day with important information and some very funny ones as well.

        • Michael Schaffer says:

          And one good aspect of this forum is that Norman allows posters to correct and also disagree with him. So what’s the problem with Paul pointing out this detail? Some readers may find that distinction interesting.

          • sdReader says:

            Michael, you really seem to have a compulsion to argue with everyone on every thread.

            Of course NL relies on people like Paul (and me and you) to point out errors. But “how difficult is it to get Thielemann’s position correct?” is just rude, and Paul is apparently irritated that his correction yesterday was not fully heeded. That’s not fair, given the nature of Slipped Disc.

            By the way, I did not appreciate your bringing up the Grimaud exchange the other day, for readers who may not have seen it, and stating that I could not explain something. That was dishonest.

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            sdReader says:

            Michael, you really seem to have a compulsion to argue with everyone on every thread.

            I call that “having a discussion”. It’s only “arguing” when people can not back up their statements with facts or, when it comes to opinions about artistic matters which, of course, can not be broken down into “facts”, at least some kind of coherent explanation for their “opinion”. Like when you make very strong and dismissive statements about this or that artist, speaking from what you want to look like a position of authority. I think if you voice strong opinions, you should also be prepared to offer strong arguments to back them up. If you offer such arguments, what can ensue is a “discussion”. If you just act the offended victim, then it’s more like an “argument”. But if you like to criticize, you should also be able to accept criticism of your criticism, don’t you think?

            That’s not fair, given the nature of Slipped Disc.

            I agree, and that’s why I said I think it’s good that NL allows corrections and opinions differing from his. So again, what’s the problem?

            By the way, I did not appreciate your bringing up the Grimaud exchange the other day, for readers who may not have seen it, and stating that I could not explain something. That was dishonest.

            You did completely fail to back up your statements about how Grimaud’s Mozart is “weak” and completely “un-Mozartean” with any kind of argument when I asked about that. Instead, you just weaseled out of the discussion. Or did I miss something there? If you feel it is important for other people to read what you didn’t have to say about this subject, you can reply to that post where I brought that up with a link. I don’t see what was “dishonest” about mentioning that since the point of my post was to point out that you seem to delight in displaying a rudely dismissive attitude towards flamboyant female pianists.

            Forgive me for coming across like William Osborne here for a moment! 🙂

          • sdReader says:

            Oh, I forgive you. And I don’t think anyone would confuse you with William Osborne!

  • Simon says:

    “a long list of changes he wanted to make – to the company’s logo, marketing, the programming of the Staatskapelle, and more” – err, that was supposed to be his job, wasn’t it?

  • Wanderer says:

    I don’t know if it is such a good idea to give someone with the difficult personality of Thielemann – his artistic merits are not in question – so much power over an artistic institution like the Semperoper, that is so much more than just an (excellent) orchestra and it’s chief conductor.

    Judging by the past “political” life of Maestro T. the above picture reminds a little bit of this, of course I’m only half serious… 😉

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/86/Bundesarchiv_Bild_102-14569,_Berlin,_Mai-Feier,_Hindenburg_und_Hitler.jpg

    • Christian Elsner says:

      I’m no fan of Thielemanns personality but shame on you for posting this picture even when you say s.th. about half serious!

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      Enormously funny, Wanderer. Or maybe just enormously half funny. And in reality, just very cheap and low. And totally wrong, too. T-man is not a “Nazi” at all. He describes himself as a “liberal conservative” which in some parts of the world may seem like a contradiction, but in German society, that’s not necessarily a contradiction at all. It basically means someone who holds conservative values but does not feel the need to impose them on others, on society as a whole. And that’s exactly what he is. I am from the same neighborhood in Berlin he is from and I know the “type” very well. Not really “my crowd” but nothing nearly that sinister either. Those people generally abhor what the Nazis did, and what negative effect they had on German culture, too, just as much as less conservative people.

      • Wanderer says:

        Oh well, “don’t mention the war”, I guess we still can’t make jokes about that time, Germans and humor… My attempt-at-humor-punch was aimed at the “Ermächtigung” of powers, that the chief conductor was raised by his superior to a level of power never seen before. So much for the analogy to Hindenburg and “Gröfaz”.

    • sdReader says:

      She looks nothing like Hindenburg. How rude.

      And, seriously, what “past political life”?

    • Gonout Backson says:

      @Wanderer

      “I don’t know if it is such a good idea to give someone with the difficult personality of Thielemann – his artistic merits are not in question – so much power over an artistic institution like the Semperoper”

      The list of great musicians with difficult personalities, having “so much power” in a musical institution, is quite long. One could argue it’s the only natural situation : a musical institution run by a musician, not by an over-ambitious entrepreneur or, even worse, stage director.

      • Wanderer says:

        You do not see the whole picture. Thielemann is only chief conductor of the orchestra. He is not in charge of the Semperoper as a whole. He does not want to take on the responsibilities of a proper GMD (Generalmusikdirektor), but assumes all the advantages and power of such a position and beyond as it pleases him.

        That’s the biggest ingredient to the very “explosion” he was talking about himself, but of course blaming others.

        Those who would be in charge to tame him, would be the Intendant and the superior state government. Thielemann has knocked out both authorities.

        • Gonout Backson says:

          It wasn’t a comment on this particular situation, but on a general principle. As for Thielemann, people who want all the power and no responsibility (even better: all power to them, all responsibility to others) are so incredibly rare that I cannot believe it about such a great artist. Impossible. No, really.

  • Scaramuccio says:

    No, Simon, it was not. The Staatskapelle is basically a separate “corporation” from the opera house – the intendant of the Semperoper is NOT head of the Staatskapelle. The symphonic concerts in the opera house are totally in responsibility of the Staatskapelle, and once the schedule for coming seasons is agreed upon, changes can only be made if the Staatskapelle accepts.

    • Paul Thomason says:

      Thank you for pointing out the relationship between the Staatskapelle and the Opera!

    • Simon says:

      OK with you what the programming of the Staatskapelle is concerned – but for the rest? Who if not the Intendant of the opera house is supposed to decide about CI, marketing etc.?

      • sdReader says:

        Does CI mean corporate identity and, if so, what’s wrong with the company’s existing artwork?

        I think it looks good all round, especially the squiggle for the “Staatskapelle” and the icon of the house for the “Semperoper.”

        What was Dorny thinking? It seems he approached the job all wrong, as to history, as to people and as to priorities.

        • Simon says:

          Yes, it does. No idea whether the xisting one is fine or not, but usually it’s the first thing a new intendant is going to change. So Dorny’s initiative is nothing special – and, in any case, ist is or should be his responsibility indeed.

          • Scaramuccio says:

            The logo, marketing etc. are minor issues, compared to the programming. They are not really the reason for firing Dorny, although it is highly questionable if the Semperoper needs a new logo – again, after Ulrike Hessler had it changed only a couple of years ago.

            Nothing of those is in any way related to what’s happening on stage, and that’s what Dorny should have been concerned about at first. It’s only about his position in the media. The totally inexcusable thing Dorny did was to inform Thielemann by email that he would postpone a RING project, already scheduled for 2015-17 and in preparation (most likely contracts with soloists already signed) to a possible date in an eventual second term of Thielemann as Principle Conductor of the Staatskapelle.

            Hm. I’m wondering if this is what Dorny’s idea of raising the standards at the Semperoper …

            Good riddance.

          • Wanderer says:

            Scaramuccio, we can imagine how this might have upset Thielemann. But we don’t know the whole story. Dresden would need a LOT of money to stage a good RING, good enough for the reputation of Thielemann and Staatskapelle anyway, and maybe Dorny saw that project suck up too many resources for his differently balanced planning, so he wanted to postpone it a bit until things had improved somewhat, new staff singers were hired for instance which would lower the cost of the project etc.

            The problem for Thielemann could have been, that he had scheduled himself to take the RING to Salzburg/Austria, financed by the Saxonian tax payer… which opens a whole other can of worms…

  • urania says:

    Simon, of course that was his job. But clocks are still going slow in Dresden. I do not know what they expected, the house is in a kind of winter nap for years.

  • Once upon a time in Saxen says:

    The theaters with world greatest orchestras in the pit all have that problem. Similar situation is in Leipzig with Gewandhaus Orchester. Though in Dresden the fact that Mr.T schould conduct 15 Performances ist very good for the “symbiosis” between the Opra and Orchestra. In Leipzig f.ex. there is not such thing and the Die Oper Leipzig dies.

    The main problem is allways planing – for all the operatic orchestra rehersals are crasy – all the time someone else in the pit… No serious conducter can and will tollerate this.

    What is here going on- only the God himself knows. I for myself can only say that Mr.D must have been quite naive to think he could make grave changings by a mastodont like the Dresden Semperoper one is over night and before he even get to know how the “shop” ticks.

    And anyways nobody looses (perhaps some staging directors who had hopes and promisses). Both Mr T and Mr D got free publicity worldwide, and the polititians too.

    Happy not to be the part of the circus any more- though singing on stage cannot compare with anything in the world…

    • sdReader says:

      Oper Leipzig dies? I heard a super Parsifal there a couple of years ago. The conductor is the Intendant, no? Capable man, Ulf Schirmer!

  • urania says:

    Leipzig Opera is well and alive with the new General Manager und Musical Director Ulf Schirmer. So no struggles for power. There are no problems with the Gewandhausorchestra since it has ca. 192 musicians and does play in the Gewandhaus, Opera and sometimes Thomaner Kirche since ages. Sales went up around 10% – do not have the exact figures. Leipzig Opera is eine Städtische Opera and does not have these big intentions as Thielemann and town officials do have for Dresden. Ulf Schirmer wants to make first opera for people and not for feuilleton and international headlines. Of course the budget is very tight, I guess around 40 Million Euro ( + Ballet) and musikalische Komödie.

  • Kai says:

    Changing the logo was presumably the least interesting position on that list of demands. Ulrike Hessler did the same in 2010, and she got heavily attacked for this “destruction of a brand of high culture in Dresden” as even a journalist I would consider comparatively progressive put it.

    Concerning the ultimatum Schorlemer also mentioned “a last appearance about which I do not want to go into details”, resulting in their harsh press release.

    Wolfgang Rothe made enlightening remarks, perhaps separately in a radio interview: “Existing sensitivities broke out” and now “the house must be conciliated again”. A bit loosely, quoted from memory, but that’s the essence. Which of course should have a lot to do with the status of Staatskapelle, not defined in any official document other than that it is part of Sächsische Staatstheater – Semperoper. There were rows also between Staatskapelle and Ulrike Hessler, they just did not escalate.

    Probably the conciliation also concerns the ballet. Aaron S. Watkin has been reported as a clear Dorny ally, which may also explain why he did not participate in this press conference.

    Notes from other reports: 20 singers from the cast are fired. Dorny not just intended to do so, he already served them a valid Nichtverlängerung. The fate of these singers is uncertain at this point.

    Completely uncertain is also what will become of the productions already arranged by Dorny. It is intended to save them, but nobody knows if this will be feasible, if the artists in question will still be available for Dresden.

    There should be a number of other noteworth aspects. But so far it is already pretty clear that Thielemann did not exaggerate when he said that there was the danger of an explosion.

    What a disaster!

    • Wanderer says:

      “Notes from other reports: 20 singers from the cast are fired. Dorny not just intended to do so, he already served them a valid Nichtverlängerung. The fate of these singers is uncertain at this point.”

      This point is interesting in so far as that Dorny can’t have acted based upon his own evaluation of the quality of these singers here. Somebody must have suggested it to him, that it would be a necessary task. Thinking about it, it could most likely have been Thielemann, since it is not likely that Dorny would have at this point in time done this issue of artistic concern without Thielemann’s consent. These are mostly singers hired by Eytan Pessen?

      • Scaramuccio says:

        Wanderer, the idea that Thielemann would have suggested the names of 20 singers to fire is totally wrong. He could have done that much earlier, before Dorny was appointed. No, it was obviously Dorny who fired them, for whatever reason. Btw, the chorus headmaster was also given notice by Dorny. Several others have already applied and been in Dresden for interviews etc., and it was obvious Dorny preferred his own chorus headmaster from Lyon …

        • Wanderer says:

          OK, but as far as I know as chief conductor of the orchestra Thielemann can’t fire any singers or chorus headmasters anyway, not earlier, not now, not in the future. He could go to the Intendant and ask him for it, as soon as an Intendant is/was appointed. That was the background of my speculation.

          We can be certain, Thielemann had accumulated a list of issues he wanted the new Intendant to do, which the interims leadership had always delegated as tasks of a future properly appointed Intendant.

          It seems unlikely to me Dorny would have done such an unpopular step without Thielemann’s backing, he is politically smart, but maybe Thielemann is smarter… 😉

          • Michael says:

            No, it wasn’t CT. Dorny had the singers audition! They were all amazed that he asked them to audition, and suspected bad things…THAT upset the entire opera personnel, it’s not how things are done in Dresden

      • Kai says:

        I saw also a mention of some French representative, described as arrogant, Dorny had placed at Dresden?

        Today (which is meanwhile yesterday) I checked out what the two Dresden newspapers considered worth reporting from the press conference.

        One of these reports quoted a description of the evaluation of the singers: Dorny summoned them in to a casting, as if they would for the first time apply for an engagement. This treatment contributed to what has been described as “disruption of industrial peace”, and the casting was apparently followed by the firing of about two thirds of the singers. There has also been a critical mention of this story by Christian Thielemann, so he clearly disapproves this proceeding.

        So Pablo Assante got fired by Dorny as well? A detail the newspaper reporters apparently did not grasp, one of them just mentioned that Assante would “move” (as if he left at his own will) to Genua, tearing up the next hole.

        The logo story has also clarified: It refers to the Staatskapelle logo, left unchanged in 2010 after the Staatskapelle had opposed replacing the existing, Dresden-made one by the new design, produced at Berlin (Dresden was burning when people found out this). But this is just a small detail: Dorny also wanted to have his say on the Staatskapelle concerts and who conducts them, entirely contrary to the established practice at Dresden. In this context Thielemann said in another interview that Sinopoli and Luisi had exactly the same competences in their contract, so they are no specific Thielemann thing.

        In this other interview Thielemann also said that he noted much later than others the rising conflicts, even still tried to convince sceptics of Dorny. They had very nice conversations, and afterwards Dorny went to the minister to have the competences deleted from his contract. And he says he also got one e-mail that “threw me from the stool”.

        Statements by Sabine von Schorlemer: Got the first inquiries within hours after sending out the press release, thus “the post can’t be that unpopular”. There was a last, not nice encounter in her office on 11 Feb, after which Dorny sent his ultimatum with 26 Feb as deadline. After he did not answer a request to prolong this deadline she took it as the date to act “before all of the porcelain is smashed”.

        Schorlemer admitted one mistake: Making no enquiries about the candidate at the places where he worked so far. She also said that Dorny was always accompanied by a lawyer when appearing in her office. And the key qualification she requires for the post now: “Being able to lead without leaving torched earth.”

        Wolfgang Rothe: At present they are researching which changes Dorny has made to the existing plannings for the 2014/15 season, of course without consulting with anyone (not to talk about any respect for the work of Ulrike Hessler at all). But he still hopes that they will be able to present the schedule on 21 March. Less good is the situation with the 2015/16 season, here only rudimentary plannings exist.

        It is intended to hire someone as consultant, considering that most of the former artistic leadership is gone now.

        • Wanderer says:

          […and the casting was apparently followed by the firing of about two thirds of the singers. There has also been a critical mention of this story by Christian Thielemann, so he clearly disapproves this proceeding…]

          remains to be seen, if these decisions will now be taken back or stay in effect… I suppose Thielemann only sheds crocodile tears here.

          […And he says he also got one e-mail that “threw me from the stool”…]

          Apparently that was the mail concerning the RING postponement then.

          […Schorlemer admitted one mistake: Making no enquiries about the candidate at the places where he worked so far…]

          quite an oversight for such an important position…

          […Dorny also wanted to have his say on the Staatskapelle concerts and who conducts them, entirely contrary to the established practice at Dresden. In this context Thielemann said in another interview that Sinopoli and Luisi had exactly the same competences in their contract, so they are no specific Thielemann thing…]

          Thielemann is right, but Dorny said he only suggested to collaborate with conductors, have conductors do bot concerts and operas jointly. Something that could be done with collaboration in mind, unless tradition is everything and new ideas are impossible. It’s always tricky to maintain a healthy balance between tradition and innovation, and Dresden is known for being heavy on tradition and weak on innovation.

          One issue that must come on the table is Thielemann’s conflict of interest with the Semperoper: Thielemann is also the artistic chief of the Salzburg Easter Festival. He plans with his orchestra there, but his orchestra has only a mandate to serve the state of Saxony!!!

          An Intendant will decide about issues that concern the orchestra’s availability for said Festival. Explosive potential for any future Intendant.

          • Scaramuccio says:

            No idea why you always try to read bad intentions in Thielemann’s actions. It is also wrong that the Staatskapelle only has a mandate to serve the state of Saxony. This would mean they were not allowed to go on tours, for example. As I pointed out earlier, the Staatskapelle is a separate “corporation” from the opera house, and the intendant has absolutely NO right to make decisions about their role in Salzburg. Btw, this arrangement with Salzburg has worked very well so far, and the Salzburg premiere of this year, ARABELLA, will be on the stage later this year in Dresden. Btw, it’s not like the Staatskapelle burns Saxon money in Salzburg, quite the other way around.

            It is beyond me how the RING project would be less costly later. Or how the Semperoper would have more money later for this project. It was planned to start next year and I am pretty sure the contracts with soloists, maybe even director etc. have already been signed. Postponing this project would cost a lot of money!

            Also, I don’t see how the Semperoper would be “known for being heavy on tradition and weak on innovation.” Yes to heavy on tradition, but what exactly do you mean with weak on innovation? Productions that Americans call – justified – Euro-trash? Have you seen any newer productions at the Semperoper lately? SVANDA DUDAK is wonderful, and not exactly mainstream, or what about Henze’s “We come to the river”? A very unusual production, very progressive and innovative. I could name several more.

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            Scaramuccio says:

            No idea why you always try to read bad intentions in Thielemann’s actions.

            That question is easily answered if you look at Wanderer’s first post in this thread (about a dozen posts from the beginning). It is pretty obvious that he is dragging some serious and nasty prejudices with him.

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            Scaramuccio says:

            February 27, 2014 at 6:52 pm

            Also, I don’t see how the Semperoper would be “known for being heavy on tradition and weak on innovation.” Yes to heavy on tradition, but what exactly do you mean with weak on innovation? Productions that Americans call – justified – Euro-trash? Have you seen any newer productions at the Semperoper lately?

            The last time I was at the Semperoper around Xmas 2012, I saw this production by Katharina Thalbach of Hänsel und Gretel:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-p2ysJJD1os

            Definitely not just the “same old” either, no matter how successful one may find it (or not). I think it was quite good. But the main attraction (at least for me) was the orchestra, of course. And they were absolutely fabulous, in top form and highly engaged – and H+G may be an opera for children, but it is not a very easy piece for the orchestra at all. They even had one of their former principal cellists (Peter Bruns, now professor in Leipzig) as guest to play the cello solos – and all that in a routine repertoire performance.

          • Wanderer says:

            @ Scaramuccio: You say the Staatskapelle is a separate corporation form the Semperoper. I have a hard time believing this is actually true.

            Surely there is then some public domain document that shows that is the case? Can the public see it?

            If you were right, it means the Semperoper has to contract the Staatskapelle for their service to play in the opera?

            Does the opera pay the orchestra for their service in the pit?

            Can the opera hire another orchestra to play in the opera if the Staatskapelle is not available?

            Does the orchestra rent the opera for their Symphony concerts?

            If the Staatskapelle were a truly separate corporation as you say, then all that would be the case…

            No, the Staatskapelle is the orchestra of the opera, with some certain rights of autonomy, but in general a part of the bigger entity.

            And I don’t read “bad intentions” into anything, I only describe a potential conflict of interest, when it comes to the Staatskapelle Dresden, Salzburg and the Semperoper administration.

            Of course the orchestra should go on tour also.

            But Salzburg is a different constellation than a normal tour. If the artistic chief of the Salzburg festival and the chief conductor of the Saxonian Staatskapelle are the very same person, and the Staatskapelle is 100% financed by the state of Saxony, then one must look carefully what happens with the tax money of Saxony that finances that orchestra.

          • Kai says:

            It is not widely known who pulled the strings to strike the Salzburg coup? It was no one else than Ulrike Hessler.

            And I proceed from the assumption that no money from the regular Dresden budget goes into Osterfestspiele Salzburg. What I remember is an explanation of the opera side: Here the deal is to label them as co-production with Semperoper and show these productions later (to give Salzburg the cosy feeling of exclusivity) at Dresden where they are essentially an additional production that the budget would otherwise not allow. There may be different opinions if these advantages justify the result that only a small number of musicians is available during Easter at Dresden, with obvious consequences. But this is still not a conflict of interests in the assumed way.

            “We come to the river” is a good cue: The biggest Dresden newspaper run a full-blown, fundamental campaign against this production, and I must say that I was quite relieved when it was clear that this campaign did not anticipate the reaction of the audiences. To me this story is characteristic for the hypocrisy towards this institution I often note: There are always laments about it being a mere tourist trap, but if something more advanced is done this is completely wrong as well. And those who particularly worry about “our Semperoper” have never been seen in a performance there.

            Just one more point: I found it quite interesting to see how the comments column here immediately filled up with apparent accounts from Lyon and elsewhere. They perfectly fit what Schorlemer/Thielemann/Rothe said. So which reason should I have to doubt what they said? That the rigorous Thielemann bashers should be my friends? Which they not are as I had to found out earlier (i.e. at a time when I had never heard of CT yet)?

          • Wanderer says:

            @Michael Schaffer: please relax. I did not imply Nazi ideology in connection with CT. I was pointing out the “Ermächtigung” like situation we have in Dresden, where CT is apparently given powers by the authorities beyond his legally assigned role. Referring to past “political” life I refer to “verbrannte Erde” which you can’t deny plaster’s maestro’s way in the past. That’s not a prejudice, that’s a fact.

          • Wanderer says:

            @Kai: you engage into the typical Dresden “Lagerkampf” here, with its unpleasant polarizations and divisions.

            ” And those who particularly worry about “our Semperoper” have never been seen in a performance there.”

            That’s a typical straw man argument, the creation of a fictitious enemy…

            “That the rigorous Thielemann bashers should be my friends? Which they not are as I had to found out earlier (i.e. at a time when I had never heard of CT yet)?”

            To then justify positioning oneself into the other polarized corner.

            What Dresden needs is the opposite. It needs collaboration and mutual artistic growth.

            Salzburg is the element that can create further division, if it is not understood and handled right by the responsible parties.

            And here it must be clear that it is not Thielemann’s interest to strengthen the Semperoper. He is interested in the Salzburg Festival primarily, where he is artistic leader. That’s not bashing, that’s simple politics.

            All this can be handled, but only if it is understood first, particularly by the superiors in the Saxon state government.

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            Wanderer says:

            @Michael Schaffer: please relax. I did not imply Nazi ideology in connection with CT.

            Yes, you did!!! And if you were misunderstood, you could have clarified that immediately and distanced yourself from your crude and lame joke, rather than immediately playing additional prejudice and stereotype cards.

            I was pointing out the “Ermächtigung” like situation we have in Dresden, where CT is apparently given powers by the authorities beyond his legally assigned role.

            Yes, thank you, I think we all got that.

            Referring to past “political” life I refer to “verbrannte Erde” which you can’t deny plaster’s maestro’s way in the past. That’s not a prejudice, that’s a fact.

            Nice try, but no. It’s too obvious that that is not what you meant. And again, you could have said so then. Now it’s too late. And your comment – “judging by the past “political” life of Maestro T. the above picture reminds a little bit of this” – no, you can not compare the situation Adolf was in when Paul signed the Ermächtigungsgesetz to T-man’s well known pattern of walking out in a huff. That’s not even a far stretch, and just be honest, that’s not what you meant.

            What Dresden needs is the opposite.

            Whatever Dresden needs, it’s not advice from someone who makes crude Nazi jokes about its orchestra’s principal conductor.

            Or maybe I am wrong, maybe they do need your advice. You should tell them what you think is best for them. I am sure you can find an email address on their website. Maybe you should also include one of your highly sophisticated picture jokes. I am sure you have Paint or Photoshop or something like that on your computer. You could make a picture of T-man with an Adolf mustache and include it, so they can see what an exquisite sense of humor you have. There might even be a job there for you as humor consultant. Since they are (mostly) Germans, they direly need help from you in that department.

          • Wanderer says:

            @ Michael Schaffer: sorry, you need to lighten up, and stop talking more nonsense. I did not imply any of what you claim. You seem to be a victim of your own distorted perception.

            I said jokingly Schorlemer “ermächtigt” Thielemann, that reminds me of Hindenburg and Gröfaz. That’s it. Nothing else to get so excited about. Move on.

  • A great man heading a musical institution like the Semperoper will know how to diplomatically collaborate with existing staff and structures, and mobilize creative forces to gradually move into the direction that he thinks would be best.

  • Paul Thomason says:

    Wanderer: Regarding your comment:

    @ Scaramuccio: You say the Staatskapelle is a separate corporation form the Semperoper. I have a hard time believing this is actually true.

    You’re not going to win an argument with Scaramuccio over what is and is not a legit corporation in Dresden. I’ve known Scaramuccio personally for almost a decade. He is a very experienced German lawyer specializing in business related law. In addition, he was born and raised in Saxony and his family have been avid patrons of the Semperoper, the Staatskapelle, and other Saxon cultural and sporting institutions for generations.

    I’d be willing to bet Scaramuccio’s posts on such things spring from solid facts.

  • Scaramuccio says:

    > You say the Staatskapelle is a separate corporation form the Semperoper. I have a hard time believing this is actually true.

    Everyone can see that.

    > Surely there is then some public domain document that shows that is the case? Can the public see it?

    Yes to both questions. If you ever make it to Dresden, go to the State Archive and ask for the documents.

    > If you were right, it means the Semperoper has to contract the Staatskapelle for their service to play in the opera?

    You intentionally complicate matters. To clarify: The “Semperoper” is not a legal “person”, neither is the Staatskapelle. They both belong to the State of Saxony, represented by the Ministry of Science and Arts. The building “opera house” is not owned by the “Semperoper”, btw. Contracts define that the Staatskapelle is the orchestra playing for the Semperoper, the number of performances is fixed.

    > Does the opera pay the orchestra for their service in the pit?

    No, both are separately funded by the State of Saxony (you just need to read the Saxon State budget, it’s public), so there is no need for payment. It works the same the other way around, when the chorus and soloists perform in Staatskapelle concerts.

    > Can the opera hire another orchestra to play in the opera if the Staatskapelle is not available?

    Since there’s no intention in this regard, and it’s most likely not happening, the contracts don’t say it explicitly. But in emergency cases they can.

    > Does the orchestra rent the opera for their Symphony concerts?

    See above. The building is not owned by the Semperoper company, but by the State Saxony. Using it for Symphony concerts is defined in the contracts. Side note: There was a plan recently that the Staatskapelle might use the reconstructed Kulturpalast or a possibly new concert hall for their Symphony concerts (shared with Dresden Philharmonic) to make more room/time for the Semperoper, but the Staatskapelle refused and claimed their right of playing in the Semperoper.

    > If the Staatskapelle were a truly separate corporation as you say, then all that would be the case…

    Not necessarily, because the contracts among three parties – Ministry of Science and Arts, Semperoper and Staatskapelle define everything.

    >But Salzburg is a different constellation than a normal tour. If the artistic chief of the Salzburg festival and the chief conductor of the Saxonian Staatskapelle are the very same person, and the Staatskapelle is 100% financed by the state of Saxony, then one must look carefully what happens with the tax money of Saxony that finances that orchestra.

    The Staatskapelle is paid for performing in Salzburg, and not by the Saxon tax payer. No worries about money here.

    That’s all I’m saying on this matter. Enough is enough. I’m looking forward to atttending GUNTRAM this Sunday and the Symphony concert, conducted by Thielemann, on Tuesday. And I’ll thoroughly enjoy the traditional way of music making at the Semperoper (building). LOL

    • Wanderer says:

      I’m not impressed.

      You said:

      [The Staatskapelle is basically a separate “corporation” from the opera house]

      and you said:

      [The “Semperoper” is not a legal “person”, neither is the Staatskapelle.]

      Only one of these two statements can be true, since a corporation is a legal “person” or entity. Which one is it?

      And clearly when I say “Semperoper” I mean the organization and the administrative body, not real estate, don’t try to be “spitzfindig”.

      I also enjoy the music making of the Staatskapelle very much. Great we have that in common.

      • Simon says:

        Easy to find out:

        http://www.semperoper.de/fusszeile/impressum.html

        http://www.staatskapelle-dresden.de/informationen/impressum/

        Both pages feature the same text: “Die Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden ist rechtlich nicht selbstständig und nicht im Handelsregister eingetragen. Sie ist Inhaberin der eingetragenen Wort- und Bildmarken »Semperoper« und »Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden«.” Rough translation (I am neither a lawyer nor a professional translator…): “The Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden is not legally independent and not listed in the commercial register. It holds the registered trademarks »Semperoper« and »Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden«.”

        So it should be clear that both institutions have no own legal personality and are thus unable to conclude any for of contract with each other or any third party. Legally, they’re both departments of the State of Saxony’s public administration. Therefore, there will certainly be a contract between the Stat of Saxony and Mr. Thielemann as well as contracts between the Stato of Saxony and everyone working, singing, playing, whatever at the opera or the orchestra, but certainly no legally binding contract (as opposed to informal agreement) between the opera and the orchestra or the state and the orchestra.

        And, by the way, the mere name “Staatskapelle” indicates that it is not a self-governed, independent body like, e.g., the Berlin Philharmonic, but indeed the government’s (formerly: the king’s) own orchestra.

        • Wanderer says:

          I know… I know… I just wanted to point out how Mr. H…….s’ alias Scaramuccio’s statement about “separate corporations” is legally questionable.

          Which brings us back to square one. Thielemann has a contract with the State. Dorny had a contract with the state. Apparently competences were not clearly divided, or Mr. Dorny did not understand his (limitation of) competences, the public doesn’t exactly know this, since the public doesn’t know either contract.

          The most interesting question now is, that the Staatskapelle itself enjoys a certain status and autonomy, but much of that is not in written law, but merely Gentleman agreement, and more often also disagreement…

          It would be a good moment at this point in time for Staatskapelle to make their position and rights legally binding and unambiguous in writing.

          Also the Intendant’s role must be defined more clearly. What exactly are the Intendant’s competences when it comes to controlling the Staatskapelle? The status quo should be a harmonious collaboration that doesn’t need contracts, but mutual vision and strive for artistic excellence. But as always contracts have to be made for the case of conflict. A good contract is one that doesn’t allow much conflict or settles it without binding much resources and time that are better used for achieving great things in the artistic realm.

          • Simon says:

            Hear, hear. Defining hierarchies and comptencies clearly and transparently is always the better option.

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