Heidenheim celebrates the power of music
The Heidenheim Opera Festival will take place from May 29 to August 2, 2020, under the motto “Power”. It will feature the operas “Don Carlo” and “I due Foscari”, continuing the series of Verdi productions that have already drawn international attention in past seasons. But Ludwig van Beethoven will also receive his due in his anniversary year in performances by the two acclaimed festival ensembles, the Stuttgart Philharmonic and the Cappella Aquileia, under Artistic Director Marcus Bosch.
By definition, power is something that possesses or represents a particular or mysterious strength. With its motto this year, the Heidenheim Opera Festival (OH!) will cleverly cover several levels of meaning at once when the power of music becomes vividly perceptible and, of course, audible in masterpieces by composers including Verdi, Beethoven (in the celebratory year of 2020), Carl Orff and Leonard Bernstein, performed in the unique open-air location of Hellenstein Castle with its powerful medieval architecture. This kind of experience has been guaranteed for years not only by the Stuttgart Philharmonic but also by the Cappella Aquileia, founded in 2011 – which, according to the neue musikzeitung of July 2019, has “ascended to the top league of German festival orchestras” – and its initiator and artistic director, Marcus Bosch. But “Power” will also be an issue directly engaged with on the operatic stage in Heidenheim as a socio-political and interpersonal phenomenon: in Giuseppe Verdi’s “Don Carlo” (production: Georg Schmiedleitner, première: Jul. 10), for example, the machinery of power in 16th-century Spain operates against the background of the Eighty Years’ War triggered by the Spanish occupation of the Netherlands – and impacts tragically on the intimate love relationship depicted in the work.
And Verdi’s “I due Foscari” (production: Tibor Torell, première: Jul. 23) is also all about the exercise, abuse, transfer and, finally, deprivation of power, this time in 15th-century Venice, using the example of Francesco Foscari, the 65th doge of the city of lagoons. With the productions of these two works, which contain striking parallels to recent (global) political events, the Heidenheim Opera Festival also provides a subtext to current social discussion. But for Marcus Bosch, the 2020 festival certainly promises to be a celebration of singers as well: “With Leah Gordon, Ania Jeruc, Lionel Lothe and many others, we have engaged fantastic Verdi singers for ‘I due Foscari’ and ‘Don Carlo’.”