Barrie Kosky, Theatre & Opera Director
There are not many stage directors in the world who, in the space of six months, have directed Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg,” Debussy’s “Pelléas et Mélisande” and the musical, “Fiddler on the Roof.” But that is exactly how Barrie Kosky spent the second half of 2017. What’s more, this is a typical schedule for the energetic Melburnian.
“I was mentored by fantastic people and supported by fantastic individuals. I never felt myself as a tall poppy victim at all, but I have seen it in other people”
Barrie says it was the influence of his Russian, Polish and Hungarian grandparents that ignited his interest in opera. “My Hungarian grandmother was the figure that was this living breathing example of this world, this pre-war assimilated Hungarian Jewish world,” he recalls. “She had heard all these famous singers and met these famous composers and conductors and could talk about Goethe and Schiller. All of these names that were flung out to me which weren’t the names that my fellow students at Melbourne Grammar were getting from their parents and grandparents.”
Since he became the artistic director of the city’s Komische Oper in 2012, Barrie Kosky has become a household name in Berlin. With his energetic productions of standard repertoire, Barrie has invigorated the Komische Oper, but he has also placed a particular focus on neglected works by Jewish composers of the Weimar era. This has given Berlin audiences the chance to sample music by Paul Abraham, Emmerich Kálmán and Oscar Straus, some of which had not been heard in the German capital in nearly a century.
Further afield, Barrie is a much sought-after stage director, who has created productions for many of the world’s renowned opera houses. In summer 2017 he received much acclaim for his production of “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg,” at the prestigious Bayreuth Wagner Festival. The event honours the works of Richard Wagner in the composer’s Bavarian hometown. Wagner was as controversial during his lifetime as he is today for his anti-Semitic views. “I find Wagner to be a source of enormous attraction and enormous repulsion and that will never change,” says Barrie.
Join Barrie Kosky in this edition of Tall Poppies, as recalls his first encounters with opera as a young boy in Melbourne, the indelible experience of hearing the legendary Joan Sutherland and the many influences that have made him one of the world’s most successful stage directors.
Title: Eine Frau, die weiß, was sie will Composer: Oscar Strauß Recording: Komische Oper Berlin 2015
Title: Pelleas et Melisande Composer: Claude Debussy Recording: Komische Oper Berlin 2017
Title: Ball im Savoy, Kangaru Composer: Paul Abraham Recording: Komische Oper Berlin 2013
Title: Brahms Symphonies 2,3 and 4 Composer: Brahms, Simone Young and the Hamburg Philharmonic Recording: OehmsClassics
Title: Symphony Nr 9 Composer: Bruckner, Simone Young and the Hamburg Philharmonic Recording: OehmsClassics
Title: Symphony Nr 2 Composer: Gustav Mahler Recording: Simone Young and the Hamburg Philharmonic, OehmsClassics
Title: Der Ring des Nibelungen Composer: Richard Wagner Recording: OehmsClassics
Title: Bernstein: “Glitter and Be Gay”, from Candide (Bernstein) Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Kaiserslautern Saarbrucken, Conductor Daniel Smith (Siobhan Stagg, Soprano)
Title: “Requiem”, (Brahms) Berlin Philharmonic, Conductor Christian Thielemann (Soprano Siobhan Stagg)
“There's no substitute for that very first moment when an idea is manifested. For me it's very important that everything's kind of born at the same moment because a song is words and music and I feel like they shouldn't be separated. That's my idea of a good creation!”iTunes
Title:The Lost Art of Letter Writing – Violin Concerto Performers:Violin Frank Peter Zimmermann Boston Symphony Orchestra, conductor Markus Stenz
Title:Carlo (version for live chorus and strings) Performers:BBC Singers/BBC Symphony Orchestra
Title:Three Memorials for Orchestra & Between Moments (Music for Orchestra 2003) Performers:Queensland Youth Orchestra
Title:Pastoral Symphony Performers:Swedish Chamber Orchestra
Title:Hamlet Diffraction Performers:Allison Bell, soprano Allan Clayton, tenor BBC Symphony Orchestra, Conductor Joshua Weilerstein
Title:Wendezeit for five violas Performers:Brett Dean
Chopin: 24 Preludes Cédric Tiberghien Chopin: 13 Preludes(from the 24 Preludes)Sviatoslav Richter Tokyo 1979 Bach JS: Prelude and Fugue No. 7 in E flat, BWV 852 – Well Tempered Clavier, Book I, Performed by Wanda Landowska, Harpsichord, 1949 Bach JS: Goldberg Variations –Harpsichord, Performed by Wanda Landowska (First Rec 1933)iTunes
Title: The Yellow Shark, Frank Zappa Ensemble Modern Composer: Three Step, for horn, violin, cello (Cathy Milliken), Earth Plays I-IV Orchestral Work (Cathy Milliken) Recording: Spiral, for a soloist with a shortwave receiver, (Karlheinz Stockhausen) Trim (Cathy Milliken) Shifrorl (Cathy Milliken)