World premiere opera sold out two weeks before opening

World premiere opera sold out two weeks before opening


norman lebrecht

February 02, 2016

We could see that the Staatsoper in Munich was packed on the opening night of South Pole. What we learned later was that the entire run of the opera has been pre-booked. Not one seat left to be sold.

Without having heard a note of the music – or indeed of the composer, Miroslav Srnka – the people of Munich took it on trust that their next opera was simply a must-see.

Which it is. (Review here.)

But you would never get that audience response in London and New York, and probably not in Vienna or Berlin, either. It’s to do with belief in the brand, and in the future of opera.

south pole2
photo: Wilfried Hösl


  • Eddie Mars says:

    Exactly the same was true of Feurige Engel [The Fiery Angel, Ognenny Angel] which Munich staged in December. By the date of the DR, and even with opportunity to see the entire production for free online in the middle of the run, every seat for the entire production run had sold out. With no discounting or papering.

    It’s a phenomenon of the strong brand, and top musical and production values which prevail in Munich under the Bachler leadership.

  • Hanna Nahan says:

    I think the fact that it had Villazon and Hampson as Scott and Amundsen had rather more to do with it…!

  • John Borstlap says:

    It could not have been the excitement of musical expectation that lured-in the audience:

  • Suzanne says:

    I would give some credit to Bachler’s predecessors, in particular Peter Jonas. Audiences don’t grow overnight, they must be tended to over decades… Two years ago we were able to get tickets to Zimmerman’s Die Soldaten (conducted by Petrenko) a week or two before, but we were lucky – the hall was absolutely packed. And the performance was thrilling.

  • Ramo The says:

    It happened at the Metropolitan Opera House at least once (this is a BAM performance, but still…)

  • Richard says:

    Honestly and proudly speaking Munich has an opera tradition of over four centuries!

    The Nationaltheater, which was by the way one of the first grand opera houses in the world (first construction 1811-1818, reconstructed after burning down between 1823-1825), has seen many world premieres.

    “Tristan und Isolde”, “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg”, “Das Rheingold”, “Die Walküre” by Richard Wagner or “Capriccio” and “Der Friedenstag” by Richard Strauss had their Première in Munich.

    Great conductors – named “Bavaria General Directors of Music”ensured and ensure ongoing highest quality: Joseph Keilbert, Bruno Walter, Carlos Kleiber, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Zubin Metha, Kent Nagano and Kyrill Petrenko are the names in the Hall of Fame of our Theatre.

    The Names of the Managing Directors are equally glamorous: Rudolph Hartmann, Wolfgang Sawallisch, August Everding, Sir Peter Jonas and now Nikolaus Bachler have ensured that the Munich Opera ranks amongst the top 5 Opera houses in the world.

    However all of that would not help, if there wasn’t an audience willing to fill the 2.103 seats per performance with an average of 280 performances per year! There are alone 25.000 subscribers who attend 6 performances per year and the waiting list is sometimes up to 5 years.

    The Bavarian Education System includes teaching of Music from 1st class. Tradition of making Music at home is still very common. The “Hochschule der Musik” and the “August-Everding Theatre Academy” ensure a high quality in education of musicians, singers and artists. In addition to the opera house we have two more opera houses, two orchestras of World Reputation (Bavaria Broadcast Symphony Orchestra and Munich Philharmonics), in addition 8 large orchestras of high quality and more than 50 Choir-Associations who regularly perform in other concert halls or churches during high-mass. The international ARD-Musikwettbewerb ranks amongst the highest competitions worldwide amongst young musicians ensuring that young artist have a challenge to perform.

    My lengthy explanation just should show the reader that an continuous education can lead to a high level of art supporters on either side: spectators who listen (being gourmets and gourmands) and artists who perform to an well educated audience. The State of Bavaria invests a lot of money to ensure this highest quality of supporting fine arts as part of the Bavarian Constitution.

    This is the key to the success of our Opera House and a sold out World Premiere – not only recently, but surely since decades.