Munich plans major Krenek comeback

Munich plans major Krenek comeback


norman lebrecht

March 18, 2018

Ernst Krenek was deleted from Europe’s opera schedules in the 1930s, under Nazi pressure.

His epic opera Karl V, commissioned by the Vienna Staatsoper, was cancelled in 1933. It was briefly staged in Prague in June 1938, before being erased altogether.

Bavarian State Opera has just announced Karl V as a highlight of its 2018/19 season.

Aside from festival performances (below), has there ever been a major house staging?


  • Olassus says:

    Albrecht in Salzburg in 1980, Soustrot in studio in 2000, Koenigs at Bregenz in 2008.

  • Siegfried says:

    Wasn’t there a 1984 Schenk-Leinsdorf production at the Vienna Staatsoper, with Reich, Armstrong, Jannowitz, Zednik?

    • Olassus says:

      Yes! Good sleuthing, Siegfried. Did you happen to hear it?

    • Hermann Lederer says:

      I heard it at least two times when it came out in Vienna; they played it only in one season. Was not a big success with the audience. The music is very interesting but Krenek´s Libretto is rather amateurish – to say it politely. The Vienna Opera took really great effort – with little profit and I fear this will be in Munich again more an honorable attempt for a famous composer and an opera which was first forbidden for political reasons. I doubt that this will be the rediscovery of a masterpiece….

      • Olassus says:

        You’re probably right. It won’t be helped, either, by having a circus stage-director, Carlus Padrissa, who will have the stage all open for his acrobatics and not support the voices.

  • YoYo Mama says:

    He composed a sonata for harp that is played fairly regularly. It’s not Hindemith, but interesting in its own way. He also wrote two concertos rarely played.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Krenek was one of those composers who jumped on every bandwagon which promised the best chances on a progressive profile. His deplorable ‘Jonny spielt auf’ (twenties) made him famous and also provided the nazi condemnation so that he had another marketing tool after WW II. His exericises in serialism have not quite worked, however, as can be heard in this video, as if we don’t have enough of this stuff with Schoenberg, Berg and Webern.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      The problem, to me, isn’t just that Krenek wrote atonal works. It’s that the atonal works he did write are nowhere on the level of the big three: Schoenberg, Berg and Webern. In other words, there’s good and bad atonal – just like most everything else. Anyway, that’s just one person’s opinion on the topic. I’m not big on Toch either.

  • William Osborne says:

    The Frankfurt Opera did a trilogy of three of his short operas last year. I very much enjoyed the productions. The music is very inventive and fluid. “Jonny spielt auf” was an enormous success and took Europe by storm. It was performed 421 times in its first season alone (1927), and was soon performed in 42 opera houses. The income enabled Krenek to compose full time. He was one of several composers, Ernst Toch was another, whose careers were stellar, only to be derailed by the Nazis and never fully revived after the Nazis were removed from power.

  • Una says:

    Very fine interview here between Bruce Duffie and Ernst Krenek.

  • Edgar says:

    Thankfully, there are plenty of flights from New York to Munich. When the Met closes down (my opinion: close the nonprofit and create a new one, radically new in approach), opera lovers can visit the better opera company after only brief travel, and enjoy Munich to boot!

    • William Osborne says:

      With flights, hotels, meals, and local transportation, just add another mere $2000 to the price of seeing the opera…..

  • John Borstlap says:

    Mind the stunning painting of Charles V by Titian (16th century Venice), turning a conventional commission into a master piece: