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OH! – “An exclamation mark of quality” – The Heidenheim Opera Festival from 13 June to 29 July 2018

Music, particularly music theatre, is not made in a vacuum, but always in confrontation with the contemporary socio-political reality. The 2018 Heidenheim Opera Festival will greatly raise its profile in this regard by taking the motto of “Refuge” as its guiding theme in the coming summer. The new productions of the two Verdi operas “Nabucco” and “I Lombardi”, as well that of “Moses’ Entscheidung” (“Moses’ Decision”), a work for children, will bring three great narratives to the stage that are dominated “by hope, fear, persecution, displacement and not least – and despite all – by touching love stories that play out under the presence of oppressive powers,” says Marcus Bosch. Festival visitors, of course, are free to decide for themselves what references to the present day they see: “Current world events seen through the lens of opera? A musical, dramatic intensification that allows us to develop our own personal view and thus better to evaluate and classify those events? Sharpening our senses by means of artistic work and experience? I hope so.”

Giuseppe Verdi’s “Nabucco” (première: 29 June 2018) is centered around the Old Testament figure of King Nebuchadnezzar, a ruler who claims to have divine power and who, in his megalomania, aims to wipe out entire peoples. This is dramatic material that could scarcely be any more relevant today: the unconditional desire for freedom and the fight against oppression are the central dramatic driving force of this opera, which brought Verdi his breakthrough as a composer and turned him into a “homo politicus” overnight. The famous “Va, pensiero”, also known as the “Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves”, is seen to this day as the secret anthem of all those who are oppressed.

The Verdi series that was launched two summers ago by the festival’s orchestra, Cappella Aquileia, including live radio recordings (Deutschlandfunk Kultur) and CD release (the 2017 live recording of “Un Giorno di Regno” is to be issued next April) is to be continued with “I Lombardi” (première 19 July 2018 in the Festspielhaus) in the production by Tobias Heyder. This opera also has a plot that can easily be projected onto the current era with its confrontation between Muslims and Christians; in the libretto by Temistocle Solera, however, this takes place against the historical background of the mediaeval crusades.

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