How Munich reworks King Lear under Covid conditionsmain
The Finnish conductor Jukka-Pekka Saraste is rehearsing Aribert Reimann’s opera of Shakespeare’s play at Bavarian State Opera.
He says: ‘Producing Lear in Covid times is a special challenge because of the distancing regulations. The size of the orchestra can’t be reduced because each string player has an individual part, so we couldn’t fit the whole orchestra in the pit. The brass and percussion players are in the Bruno Walter Hall, and the choir is yet in another rehearsal hall. There are assistant conductors for the brass and choir, and they can see me on their monitors. The sound is transmitted into the hall by speakers.
‘Reimann’s music belongs to the era of unrecognizable harmony. It is extremely difficult for the singers to find the right pitch, because hardly anything can be deduced from the orchestra. This music might possibly sound more ‘modern’ than the music of today. Nevertheless, the combination of the singing and the energy of the orchestra results in something quite unique. It’s no wonder Lear is regularly performed in opera houses.’