Vienna’s ballet chief is out

Vienna’s ballet chief is out


norman lebrecht

April 14, 2023

The international director Martin Schläpfer, chief choreographer of Vienna State Ballet for the past two and a half years, has decided he can’t take it any more.

The 63 year-old Swiss says he has refused to renew his contract. He joins chief conductor Philippe Jordan in making a one-term exit.

Bogdan Roscic, director of the Vienna State Opera, is not renowned as a team builder.


  • Anonymous Bosch says:

    I doubt very seriously if Schläpfer’s departure has anything to do with Jordan’s well-stated, justifiable reason. Hell, they may not have ever met!

    Schläpfer has been a disaster for Staatsballett, after the heights to which Manuel Legris brought it in his decade there (2010-2020).

    A renowned, retired dancer from a famous American company was recently in town and was appalled at the repetitive, bland steps this guy cranks out, and dancers in the company have not been happy with his works.

    His worst (to date) is a reworking of “Sleeping Beauty” which ditches Tchaikovsky’s/Petipa’s entire second act and replaces it with modern steps, unidentifiable characters, and really harsh atonal noise from Giacinto Scelsi. Tickets sold-out before it opened, banking on the selling power of the title; at the premiere, little girls were screaming and crying for not even one glimpse of a tutu and a new story incomprehensible even to adults.

    He also refused to address the work by excrement-smearing Marco Goecke currently being revived as part of a triple bill, even though he had more than enough time to change the programme and other companies on the Continent have dropped his stuff.

    Schläpfer has been an embarrassment on every possible level. Things can only get better.

  • LolaViola says:

    More the pity, he’s a first-class talent, a lovely human being, and has great respect for music.