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DAVID ALDEN, STAGE DIRECTOR Mayr Medea in Corinto Theater St

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Mayr Medea in Corinto
Theater St Gallen / cond. David Stern

“St Gallen Theatre, together with publisher Ricordi, have reconstructed Mayr’s original 1813 version
of ‘Medea’ for performance. This ‘excavation’ was well worth it, as our opera critic discovered on
Saturday evening at St Gallen Theatre: American Director David Alden took the bloody tragedy of
two couples and an uprooted family seriously, and yet was also open to the lyrical and cheerful side
of the piece. Chief Conductor David Stern made beautiful, historically authentic music. The end of
the piece was greeted with passionate bravo’s and applause worthy of a state opera for the soloists,
orchestra and director.”
                                                    Bettina Kugler, St. Galler Tagblatt, October 2009

“In June, directorial veteran Hans Neuenfels will bring Mayr’s version of the Medea legend to the
stage of the National Theatre in Munich. But the piece is already being performed in St Gallen,
where Peter Heilker has been Director of Opera for two years. This ex-Dramaturg of the
Bayerische Staatsoper has brought an old friend over to direct: David Alden, who was Sir Peter
Jonas’ favourite director.
David Alden told the story clearly and precisely. He exposed the irony of Napoleonic pomp and
contrasted it with the destroyed prefabricated buildings of Medea’s Caucasian home. Alden made
the fate of the migrants so much more real to the audience, and they rewarded him with greatly
appreciative applause.”
                                                                         Abendzeitung, October 2009

"Above all, Alden brings irony to the stage which gives this somewhat upbeat Italian melodious
music its own new meaning".
                                                Jesko Schulze-Reimpell, Donaukurier, October 2009

"The opening-night audience on Saturday evening was thrilled with this work, colorfully staged by
David Alden and didn't want to let the singers and direction team leave the stage (at the end of the
                                            Christa Dietrich, Vorarlberger Nachrichten, October 2009

Janáček The Cunning Little Vixen
Grange Park Opera / cond. Andre de Riddler

“David Alden’s mesmerising new production makes you wonder why Vixen is not performed more
often. He transforms it into the Forester’s dream – the Forester being the character who, like
Janácek in real life, is inspired by the Vixen into remembering his youth and what it was like to be in
love. Alden and his designer Gideon Davey have found a hilariously realistic way of representing
Janácek’s animal farm – the cock and hens are a riot – but Ben Wright’s choreography reminds us
nevertheless that the music has nothing to do with reality and everything to do with fantasy.

Together with ENO’s recent Peter Grimes, this Vixen demonstrates a noticeable maturing of Alden’s
work: he is learning to trust his composers. The quality of acting he draws is as graphic as ever, but
he now understands how much of the story takes place in the orchestra.

Vixen must rank alongside last year’s Rusalka as among Grange Park’s finest achievements.”
                                                 Andrew Clark, Financial Times, 5 stars, June 2009
Britten Peter Grimes
English National Opera / cond. Edward Gardner

“Now comes an interpretation from the American director, David Alden, that is intensely theatrical,
deeply musical and, at the same time, completely at odds with the work’s performance tradition.

As we might expect from Alden, who has a history of provocative work at ENO, his Grimes is not a
literal portrait of Suffolk community life: Paul Steinberg’s sets offer no fishing paraphernalia and the
sea is implied rather than seen. Nor is it a timeless vision of man, mob and universe: Brigitte
Reiffenstuel’s costumes are very 1940s, and the pub scene features a typically English fancy dress
competition. No, the Grimes we see here is a nightmare – and, like all nightmares, the participants
are instantly recognisable while behaving in a way that is frightening and threatening.

…no one can fault the technical finesse with which he translates his idea to the stage or the
expressionistic verve with which it comes to life. His protagonist is the chorus, choreographed
alternately as a shoal of fish, feverishly swirling and huddling, and as an impenetrable wall against
which the principals are defined.”
                                                      Andrew Clark, Financial Times, 5 stars, May 2009

 “Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears returned to England from the US in 1942 with plans for Peter
Grimes, to be based on George Crabbe's poem The Borough, already fermenting. They knew it
would not be an easy homecoming, and it's the hypocritical world of provincial Britain during the
second world war that is so disturbingly evoked in David Alden's outstanding new production of
Grimes for English National Opera.

Alden's view is pitiless, unsparing, and presented with immaculate stagecraft….a very special ENO
show indeed.”
                                                 Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 5 stars, May 2009

“Alden and Steinberg view Grimes through the poetry of Montagu Slater’s libretto. Their vision is
dark and distorted and played out in brutal shadows and unforgiving white light. The Borough
comprises a gallery of distinct individuals but Alden sees them all through expressionist eyes:
Rebecca de Pont Davies’ publican “Auntie” is something out of Britten’s “queer” milieu – a pin-
striped male impersonator with a silver-topped cane. Her simpering and suitably androgynous
“nieces” (Gillian Ramm and Mairead Buicke) look ripe for “grooming”. Ned Keene (Leigh Melrose) is
what they used to call a “fancy man” – a randy pimp and purveyor of laudanum to the demented
Miss Marple-like Mrs. Sedley - the marvellous Felicity Palmer one step away from Bedlam. Even
Gerald Finley’s Captain Balstrode has one arm – bitten off by a shark, perhaps, or one of the locals.
But the really scary thing about Alden’s production is the way in which these assorted grotesques
morph into a single entity – a brutal, unstoppable, force moved about the stage like a shoal of
carnivorous fish. The climactic manhunt is the alcohol-fuelled by-product of a party in which Alden
lays on a hellish vision of degenerating middle-England. The Union Jacks come out, and so does
the hatred of a united national front.”
                                              Edward Seckerson, The Independent, 5 stars, May 2009

“David Alden’s new production creates a creepy world in which Grimes and Ellen are the only sane
ones surrounded by freaks People once paid to watch freaks in circuses. But in David Alden’s
compellingly creepy new Peter Grimes for English National Opera, the freaks spill out from every
corner of Benjamin Britten’s masterpiece.
But the real strength of Alden’s production is that it shows Grimes gradually being destroyed by the
pressure of being the only man with proper human feelings in this gallery of freaks. He starts
behaving exactly as his persecutors accuse him of doing. Nothing demonstrates that more
effectively than Alden’s chilling staging of the apprentice’s death — as the indirect result of the
villagers’ manhunt.”
                                                               Richard Morrison, The Times, May 2009

"This was one of many breathtaking moments in English National Opera's exceptional new Peter
Grimes, conducted by the company's music director, Edward Gardner, in David Alden's staging
which opened at the Coliseum last week....Alden's passionate, and musical, understanding of the
work is beyond question....Unmissable"
                                                        Fiona Maddocks, The Observer, May 2009

“David Alden’s technically immaculate, interpretatively audacious new staging of Britten’s Peter
Grimes for English National Opera is a triumphant vindication of the ensemble-theatre values that
garnered ENO’s parent company, Sadler’s Wells Opera, the world premiere of this astonishing
masterpiece in’s good, too, to see a director back at the London Coliseum whose belief in
opera as an art form has a galvanising effect on soloists and chorus on stage, underpinned by
superlative conducting and playing from ENO’s youthful music director, Edward Gardner, and his
orchestra in the pit.
Alden...demonstrates his range with an austere, harrowing, sometimes breathtakingly beautiful yet
equally subversive account of this British classic, quite unlike any I have seen before.
This Grimes, without doubt, is the must-see operatic event of the entire 2008/9 London season.”
                                                         Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times, May 2009

“And few stagings have portrayed the opera's anguish or anger more searingly than David Alden's
nerve-tearing new production for English National Opera.”
                                                               David Gillard, Daily Mail, May 2009

Cavalli La Calisto
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden / cond. Ivor Bolton
“David Alden’s production is of a piece, intelligent and sparky.”
                                                 Fiona Maddocks, Evening Standard, September 2008

“Alden cleverly manages to be both saucy and serious. He has a ball with the sex-comedy
shenanigans, as randy gods have their wicked way with trusting mortals. But particularly at the
heartbreaking conclusion — as the duped and dumped nymph Calisto is given a glimpse of heaven,
only to be turned into a bear — he brings out the legend’s pathos. Indeed, he boldly restores the
serious bits of Ovid, notably Calisto’s pregnancy, that Cavalli cut.”
                                                       Richard Morrison, The Times, September 2008

“One day, the talented David Alden might actually originate a Royal Opera production. In the
meantime, we share with Munich what Alden describes as a "riotous sex-comedy production of a
riotous sex comedy.”
                                           Edward Seckerson, The Independent, September 2008

“…the Alden style suits Calisto. The sexual coarseness is sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, but it's
surely what Cavalli and Faustini intended. Alden's staging is not filth, however. He respects the
cosmic-philosophical dimension of the piece in the climactically beautiful metamorphosis of Calisto
from bear to hall-of-fame princess, against a skyscape of Steinberg's spectacular backdrop of
radiating concentric moons (the moon Callisto is one of Jupiter's satellites). A breathtaking finale.”
                                                 Hugh Canning, the Sunday Times, September 2008
Handel Radamisto
Santa Fe Opera / cond. Harry Bicket
"The Santa Fe Opera's first-ever production of George Frideric Handel's Radamisto is a promising
present you have to work hard to get at. Saturday's opening night took quite a bit of conceptual
unwrapping, but it was well worth it. In fact, Radamisto may just be the sleeper hit of the
season....This genre of opera is long on situation ethics and dignity and low on humor, but Alden's
direction got quite a few snickers from the audience, as well as stunned silences. At moments, his
work painted undeniably dignified and believable human interactions."
                                                                    Santa Fe New Mexican, July 2008

Rossini Il Turco in Italia
Berliner Staatsoper / cond. Constantinos Carydis
“….Rossini’s opera Il Turco in Italia, staged by David Alden demonstrated liberal conviction and
used the vulnerability of the Paulick Saal to produce an entertaining dialog.”
                                                  Jan Brachmann, Frankfurter Allgemeine, June 2008

“Rossini’s Turco in Italia is pure summer theater. David Alden’s production and its comedic
interpretation provided a stress-free lovely evening.”
                                                     Gerald Felber, Märkische Allgemeine, June 2008

“David Alden’s production of Turco in Italia is fast paced, fresh and witty…..colorful, bizarre
characters, gags, and a shot of glamour and the exotic: this American’s trademark.”
                                                       Kirsten Liese, Gießener Allgemeine, June 2008

Donizetti Lucia di Lammermoor
English National Opera / cond. Paul Daniel
“David Alden's harrowing Lucia di Lammermoor (ENO), complete with glass harmonica and a
Carrie-style mad scene, were outstanding.”
                                     Anna Picard, 2008 review, The Independent, December 2008

“ENO's most compelling production for a very long time.”
                                              Anna Picard, Independent on Sunday, February 2008

“an enthralling production…

David Alden's absorbing production, which updates the gruesome story to the era of the Brontë
novels. The Ashton family fortunes have failed, leaving them in a dilapidated manse where Calvinist
religion and sexual repression go hand in hand.

a highly intelligent and sensitive interpretation.”
                                               Rupert Christensen, The Daily Telegraph, February 2008

“David Alden has come up with a re-reading of Lucia di Lammermoor original, intelligent and
handsome enough to win more (awards)…

By shifting the focus from bravura performance to bleak historical narrative, Alden has restored the
work to its proper status as a thoroughly disturbing slice of psychodrama.”
                                                       Anthony Holden, The Observer, February 2008
“This Lucia is not so much a wronged woman as a vulnerable girl. She’s tossed, trussed and
sacrificed like a pawn in a macho stand-off between two men – brother and lover – obsessed with
avenging ancient wrongs inflicted on ancestors whose portraits they constantly revere. That’s the
crux of David Alden’s absorbing, Expressionist production… Alden treats the chorus brilliantly. A
macabre bunch in top hats, they leer voyeuristically through windows then rifle through family
documents and finally form a silently applauding audience as bloodstained Lucia goes into full
unhinged mode…”
                                              Richard Morrisson, The Times, 5 stars, February 2008

“…the spotlight falls on the director and conductor – David Alden and Paul Daniel, working together
here for the first time – and the result is enthralling…Many aspects of Walter Scott’s story – the
hardship of the Ashton family, the low position of women in society, the psychological pressure
brought to bear on poor Lucia – deliver a punch to the solar plexus as rarely before.”
                                                       Richard Fairman, Financial Times, February 2008

“All credit, then, to director David Alden…for sweeping the stereotypes and accretions aside from
this dark, revisionist new production of the work for ENO…”
                                                   Barry Millington, Evening Standard, February 2008

“David Alden's characteristically intense staging….Very Alden. And very compelling.”

“…a chilling Alden coup…”
                                               Edward Seckerson, The Independent, February 2008

Rossini La Donna del Lago
Garsington Opera / cond. David Parry
“It's a huge coup for Garsington Opera to tempt a director of David Alden's international standing to
work there, and the result is one of the finest productions the summer season in the Oxfordshire
countryside has ever presented…Alden's enthusiasm for the piece and his skill in bringing it to life
make the best possible case for (La Donna del Lago’s) return to the repertory… this beautifully
detailed staging delineates the emotional truths of the drama perfectly”
                                                          Andrew Clements, The Guardian, June 2007

Janácek Jenufa
Washington National Opera / cond. Jiri Belohlavek
“The production, which was first performed at the English National Opera last fall and then brought
to Houston before coming here, is already famous. And rightly so: I cannot imagine a more affecting
and appropriate "Jenufa." The updating to the present day seems utterly natural, without any
directorial affectation, and such time-tested theatrical gestures as the throwing of a chair or the
smashing of a window here take on the painful immediacy of body blows. This is great music
drama. Whether you end up "liking" it or not, you will never forget it.”
                                                                Tim Page, Washington Post, May 2007

Janácek Jenufa
English National Opera / cond. Mikhail Agrest
“There are some nights at the opera when director and designer, cast and conductor, composer and
masterpiece coalesce into something so powerful, so affecting, so right as to transcend memories
of the most vivid previous productions. Such is the thrilling case with David Alden's new staging of
Janacek's first great opera, Jenufa, a welcome new jewel in English National Opera's somewhat
tarnished crown.”
                                                      Anthony Holden, The Observer, October 2006
“Alden's staging is still highly effective, and it's not just due to the robustness of Janacek's gripping
score. Alden establishes the opera's complicated web of relationships…with impressive efficiency.”
                                                                         Warwick Thompson, October 2006

“David Alden has created a production which breathes warmth and humanity into Janacek’s bleak
tale…Touches of humour broadened the emotional palette. All was beautifully judged on stage.”
                                               Fiona Maddocks, Evening Standard, October 2006

“Alden…directs his cast, generating a truthfulness of gesture and a tension of relationship.”
                                                       Andrew Clark, Financial Times, October 2006

“David Alden’s profound new staging of Janácek’s first great opera.”
                                                        Richard Morrison, The Times, October 2006

Handel Ariodante
English National Opera / cond. Christopher Moulds
"That Alden takes this work so very seriously was evident from the fact that, for the fourth time, he
returned to revive this seminal ENO show. I believe that Ariodante is Handel's greatest opera, and
this is the only production I have seen which treats its dramaturgy and characters as worthy of a
theatre director's attention. And what expressive acting performances Alden has enticed from
succeeding casts!"
                                                                  Hugh Canning, Opera, August 2006

"David Alden's production is a work of genius, full of clever references to the style of staging found
in Handel's times."
                                                          Dominic McHugh,, June 2006

"As for Alden’s production, it continues to dazzle (a stage-within-a-stage to differentiate operatic
convention from raw reality) and startle (the cast spitting half-masticated apples on the heroine).
But dull it never is."
                                                              Richard Morrison, The Times, June 2006

"David Alden's wonderfully inventive, intelligent production manages to turn this formulaic tragedy of
errors into a moving tribute to the redemptive staying power of love. Now revived for the third time,
Alden's suave production ranks alongside Jonathan Miller's Covent Garden Cosi fan tutte as one of
my most rewarding nights at the opera during my four years in this job."
                                                           Anthony Holden, The Observer, June 2006

"David Alden's Ariodante was hailed for its searing intensity."
                                                   Richard Fairman, The Financial Times, June 2006

"David Alden's lively yet elegant staging"
                                                      Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, June 2006
Handel Rodelinda
San Francisco Opera / cond. Roy Goodman
“Even more surprising was the staging itself. Designed by Paul Steinberg and directed by David
Alden, the production, co-owned by San Francisco Opera and Bavarian State Opera, gave Handel’s
drama of love, betrayal and political intrigue a film noir setting straight out of the 1940s. This
accomplished two things: it replaced the usual castle-and-brocades look of the opera to a stark,
dangerous and familiar landscape. It also gave the audience a way in to the complex plot, making
the characters seem like people we’d seen before rather than figures from a distant past. (…) The
effect is aptly unsettling. Noone could deny that Alden’s staging made a forceful impact.”
                                                 Georgia Rowe, Contra Costa Times, September 2005

Cavalli La Calisto
Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich / cond. Ivor Bolton
“How does one go about awakening a 355-year-old sleeping masterpiece? One engages a director
such as David Alden, who revitalises, sweeping cobwebs away with assurance. Alden has inspired
his characters to superb interaction, infusing the story of Diana’s guiltless follower Calisto with great
feeling for the character’s tragedy. In serious episodes, his portrayal of sexual desire is subtle,
                                                             Jeffrey Leipsic, Opera News, August 2005

Monteverdi L’incoronazione di Poppea
Opéra National de Paris / cond. Ivor Bolton
(co-production with Bayerische Staatsoper & Welsh National Opera)
“Alden’s production is fantastically musical, where every gesture is in sympathy with Monteverdi’s
dramatic rhythm. He has transformed his opera singers into great actors, capable of playing
comedy or tragedy; burlesque or violence; both physical and sensual. Alden has created
Shakespearian characters, not hesitating to emphasise Monteverdi’s mixing of genres that made his
work so daring. But Alden is also sensitive to the balance between the grotesque and the serious;
between self-indulgence and realism.”
                                                            Christian Merlin, Le Figaro, January 2005

“It is with relief that I turn to Alden’s Poppea, which at least is clearly the work of a director with both
ideas and the ability to convey them to singer-actors. Alden is one of the few producers to have
read the text carefully enough to realize that Ottone’s would-be beloved is not the sweet and
innocent creature usually portrayed. She is an accomplice before the fact in the attempt on
Poppea’s life, redeemed only by her willingness to take responsibility for the crime. Alden’s
direction of the scenes between Antonacci’s Poppea and David Daniel’s Nerone had an electrifying
erotic charge.”
                                                                          Hugh Canning, Opera, May 2005

“David Alden’s staging is amusing, alive, insolent; both modern and baroque in spirit.”
                                         Mihaï de Brancovan, Revue des deux mondes, March 2005

“The situations are treated allegorically, as was Monteverdi’s original intention, but with a smoothly
perfect modern reading: abstract set, evening dress, rich lighting and absolute precision in the
                                                                        Scènes magazine, March 2005

“David Alden’s staging is a surprising patchwork of influences and references. The piece escapes
from Antiquity to become a post-modern adventure that has lost its bearings in a foreign world,
under the influence of passion. Irony and individualism have taken over, each in its own way.”
                                                   Bertrand Dermoncourt, L’Express, February 2005
“American director David Alden’s production of L’incoronazione di Poppea at the Opéra Garnier
could hardly be accused of being either traditional or innocent. The vision of depraved antiquity that
he conjured up with his frequent collaborators Paul Steinberg (sets) and Buki Shiff (costumes) drew
vociferous cheers from audience and critics.”
                                                       Rebecca Brite, Opera japonica, February 2005

“A bold and imaginative staging married to a coherent artistic project. The American Director has
employed authentic Baroquerie, using modern means for symbolic purposes. He also knows how
to emphasise the key moments by evacuating the stage of kitsch accessories and minimalist sets,
allowing the singing alone to shine.”
                                                         Pierre Gervasoni, Le Monde, January 2005

Wagner Ring Cycle
Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich
„Matti Salminen is an outspoken admirer of David Alden’s Munich Ring, which he has described as
the most intellectually stimulating since Chéreau.”
                                                                 John Allison, Opera, March 2005

Berg Lulu, Bayerische Staatsoper
Munich / cond. Michael Boder
“Visually and aurally, the audience is spellbound from the beginning to the end of the piece, which is
a very rare experience in opera.”
                                                                            IF, Opernnetz, May 2004

“Alden recreates the characters and their entanglements with sensitive precision; he digs into
Wedekind’s protagonists and sees how Berg gave them flesh with his music. He finds meaningful
expressions for desire, devotion, independence, exploitation and tyranny in a contemporary setting,
and never mocks Berg’s sorrow and violence. The audience experiences the opera itself, and not a
self-important director’s commentary. Most unusual.“
                            Klaus Adam, Schwäbische Zeitung & Salzburger Nachrichten, April 2004

 “This is the first time that Alden has staged a modern opera in Munich, and his Lulu has proved a
great success. Alden achieves not only a precise psychoanalysis, but exciting music theatre as
well: drama with elements of the pop video, social satire and horror films. This Lulu is a hyper-
realistic nightmare. There is a certain over-exagerrated comic book humour, but the laughter
quickly freezes on your lips as the mood turns.”
                                                          Jürgen Kanold, Südwest Presse, April 2004

“Alden finds the right balance between caricature, irony, slapstick and a dash of romantic
                                                     Thomas Heinold, Nürnberger Zeitung, April 2004

Janacek Jenufa
Houston Grand Opera / cond. Dennis Russell Davies
(co-production with English National Opera & Washington Opera)
“David Alden’s stage direction was cogent and well-focussed, attentive to subtleties of movement
and posture as signals of social class or self-image.”
                                                       Mike Greenberg, Express News, January 2004
“Director David Alden leads the HGO ensemble through this weird Czech affair with a careful hand,
maintaining a delicate balance of mortal horror and lyric splendour.”
                                                        Chris Brunt, The Daily Cougar, January 2004

Wagner Parsifal
Graz Opera, cond. Philippe Jordan
“David Alden deserved the many shouts of ‘bravo’: he had staged Parsifal as an exciting story,
rather than the usual edifying sleep inducer.”
                                                          Ulrich Weinzierl, Die Welt, October 2003

Wagner Tristan and Isolde
English National Opera / cond. Dietfried Bernet
“David Alden’s revival of his 1996 staging remains without doubt a fine achievement. Overall, it is
an enlightening take on this operatic Olympus, refreshingly unmorbid.”
                                                                 John Allison, The Times, May 2003

“The eye becomes oblivious to the scenery because Alden’s careful treatment of movement and
character relationships tends to take over as the principal focus. There is a smoothness to the
action, a seamless, sensuous sinousness. The stage is used to give space and air to the drama in
a way that enhances the opera’s more pensive passages and allows personality to evolve with
                                                     Geoffrey Norris, The Daily Telegraph, May 2003

Schreker Der Schatzgräber
Frankfurt Opera / cond. Jonas Alber
“No one is quite as good as the New York star director David Alden at finding new expressions for
old myths. In an unfussy manner reminiscent of Jeff Koons, Alden dusted off the Baroque operas of
Handel and Monteverdi in Munich, and now, using the same reservoir of images from Hollywood
and Disneyland, he has brought Schrecker’s fairytale world of psychological fine detail and
sentimental eroticism to life. Alden disarms the accusations that this modern music is pure kitsch
from the outset, counter-attacking the taunt by using ironic over-exaggeration. This fantasy
overload does not in any way detract from the story – it actually suits it rather well. Alden listens
closely to the music and accepts the rocking calm of the peaceful moments, just as much as the
choreographic impulses of the music in the crowd scenes.”
                                                 Jörg Königsdorf, Der Tagesspiegel, December 2002

“David Alden, a director currently in great demand all over the world, and with a tendancy towards
gleeful gravedigging in the more traditional repertoire, freely mixes the realistic and the artificial, and
exposes the cracks between the two as bright images unashamedly mid-stage. What can seem
quirky in the hands of others seems here perfectly appropriate, where collage is the principle for
large expanses of the music too. Fairytales and their own brand of logic (or lack of logic) seem to
suit our own barely linear or logically understandable age, and they run in David Alden’s blood.“
                                            Susanne Benda, Stuttgarter Nachrichten, December 2002

“Director David Alden has employed the reference-rich music as a self-service shop; changing Paul
Steinberg’s colourful staging from American diner to a Las Vegas neon strip and again to a gigantic,
maniac carnival, and reflecting the many underlying pathological and erotic layers of the fairytale
with sensitivity and forcefulness.”
                                         Claus Ambrosius, Mainzer Rhein-Zeitung, December 2002
“Is Schreker’s opera a fairytale; a plush story about kings, treasures and love? Or a deep-seated
web of relationships and psychological character constellations? According to director David Alden,
it is not a question of either/or. His current Frankfurt production has this very ambivalence at its
core. Sunday’s premiere was a notable event. Alden allows the different layers of the original
material to crash into each other; he plays with them, seizes them and forces them to confront one
another. For the New York-born director, the piece is on the one hand an opera that functions on
the purely fairy-tale level; telling of love and longing; treasures and kings and queens. He
deliberately sets this against the knowing, cynical music as an ironic tension. A directorial trick that
works perfectly in Alden’s hands, as he does not rely on the story alone. For Alden, Der
Schatzgräber also contains signs of Sigmund Freud in the psychological reasoning behind the
action. Fairy tale on the one hand and the underlying psychological compications on the other.
Accordingly, in his reading, Alden sets up opposite poles to the scenes of plot development:
moments of reflection in front of the curtain, out of carnival costume. Concentrated observation of
the inner motives, free of action.”
                                                    Christian Rapp, Giessener Anzeiger, December 2002

Wagner Tannhäuser
Bayerische Staatsoper / cond. Zubin Mehta (DVD)
“David Alden’s production of Tannhäuser is a strongly abstracted psychoanalysis with beguiling and
perturbing images.”
                                                         B Kempen, Das Opernglas, October 2005

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