Vienna’s jump-in saved the opera, but not the live stream

Vienna’s jump-in saved the opera, but not the live stream


norman lebrecht

February 15, 2022

From one of our readers:

Last night I was in attendance at the Vienna State Opera’s last performance of Die Tote Stadt.

Immediately before it started several changes were announced. Norbert Ernst sang the lead role from the side, but what was really amazing for me was the change in conductor from Thomas Guggeis to Yoel Gamzou. It was amazing to see the orchestra applauding such a young conductor at the break and after the performance.

Yoel had about 7 hours to make it from Berlin to Vienna he said and a 3-minute exchange with the concertmaster for „rehearsal“

The show went ahead but the Vienna State Opera authorities cancelled the live stream ‘for personnel reasons’.

UPDATE: How I did it.


  • Ora Binur says:

    Ora Binur

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Crazy. Ever heard Gamzou’s own version of the Mahler 10th? . . . It was recorded on the Wergo label, but it might still be on Youtube as well. For me, it’s just too ‘over the top’ in its reach for the maximum amount of good-old, Alban Berg-ian expressionism. But as always, mileage may vary.

  • I have heard the Wergo recording of Gamzou’s reconstruction of Mahler’s 10th, which suffers from bad balances (the fault of the engineers) and some push-and-pull from Gamzou on tempi. I believe that the DVD of the live premiere at Berlin’s Rykestraße Synagogue is a much better performance. Nevertheless, I consider Yoel Gamzou to be a brilliant young conductor who should be invited to take over a major orchestra, now that so many of the old guard are retiring.

  • Anonymous Bosch says:

    I don’t see how either of the two posted “comments” or the photo relate to Monday’s Wiener Staatsoper performance of “Die tote Stadt”.

    If anyone is still curious:

    Because of a COVID outbreak in the company Norbert Ernst sang the role of Paul from the wings, while Wolfgang Schilly, an assistant stage director (“Regieassistent”), acted the role onstage (as I understand it, Klaus Florian Vogt was exposed but has not tested positive).

    Two other singers in the main cast were replaced: Patricia Nolz sang Lcienne; Angelo Pollak sang Victorin.

    Conductor Yoel Gamzou replaced Thomas Guggeis (which, I hear, was a vast improvement as several cast members complained about Guggeis’ unrelenting LOUDNESS).

    By the way, all performances of this opera (6, 8, 11 & 14 February) were given without a chorus (“Corona-bedingt sang der Chor in dieser Vorstellung nicht”).

    Given all of this, I think cancelling the “Livestream” was a wise idea.

    This also – somewhat – explains the bizarre final performance of “Peter Grimes” last Tuesday, which had three last-minute replacements in named roles which led to characters exiting before they were supposed to (one disappearing entirely); a chorus so small and obviously unrehearsed that Maestra Simone Young kept looking up at the company’s Loge as if waiting for a sign to stop; and curtains not rising, leaving us to hear vague voices from behind a curtain. Young truly worked miracles by managing to get this show finished, as did the improvisations by the committed cast.

  • RW2013 says:

    “Welch Vergnügen, ein Abend ohne Guggeis!”

  • Opera life says:

    He had more than few performances of this Korngold opera with Munich Staatsoper over a month ago. It was ok…

    Besides…. such orchestras as Vienna State Opera are playing themselves. His role was mainly not to disturb.

    • Paul says:

      Of course, when the performance is merely, it’s because of the conductor, but when it’s good, it’s because of the orchestra.

  • BigSir says:

    I recall a famous Horn player in a top US orchestra said (in the 70s) the code word in the orchestra, if the conductor was not a strong leader, was “Greyhound”. Their commercial said “leave the driving to us”.