Greeting by festival manager Michael Höppner

Since this season I am new at the Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar – as music theatre dramaturge, house director and deputy to the new opera director Andrea Moses. I am very much looking forward to this great house, its staff, our audience and the city. Above all, I am looking forward to the new tasks.

As a director, ensemble leader and dramaturge, I have been involved with contemporary music theatre, also called »new« music theatre, for almost ten years. This music theatre is created from new compositions and links music and scene in extraordinary ways. Beyond the realms of opera, operetta and musical, it plays with other forms of narration and presentation, uses other media, playing and singing techniques, employs other instruments, inhabits other spaces and develops other relationships between performers and audience. It is a genre that is therefore mostly created and shown outside opera houses. For over fifty years, composers, specialised performers, ensembles and collectives have been working in this field, mainly at independent production venues and special festivals. Thus, a parallel universe of extraordinary plays, experiments and performances developed.

In my new position, I would like to set the DNT and its audience on fire with my passion for this genre and with my joy in playing with new forms of music theatre and content. I feel that it is time to reconnect contemporary music theatre and the institution of opera. With Passion :SPIEL we are therefore launching the »Weimar Weekends for Contemporary Music Theatre«, which will take place annually from March 2022. Between the end of winter and the beginning of spring, Passion :SPIEL will expand the repertoire and commit itself to experimental, innovative music theatre that points to the future. At the e-werk weimar, Passion :SPIEL will provide extraordinary experiences of listening and viewing and enable a creatively explosive exchange between theatre ensemble, independent scene, young artists and the city. Exciting developments of new plays, new productions, premières and world premières, performances, installations, happenings and activities as well as creative conversions of works of the opera canon will be realised by artists of the DNT Weimar together with independent actors and ensembles.

As all projects are currently overshadowed by the ongoing catastrophe of the century, I would also like to say a few words about this. The current pandemic is a profound turning point. The crisis puts all certainties at risk. Between fear and hope, it is turning everything upside down. We are still in the middle of it, but already I ask myself: How shall we begin again? After the end of the world. What should we do? In this interim period. Artistically. Socially. As human beings. What was, what remains and what is coming? We should not just carry on as before, I think on the one hand. We should not seamlessly follow on from something that was already wrong, I think. And on the other hand, I hope for nothing more than that everything will go back to the way it was.

Against this background, I would like Passion :SPIEL to consciously respond to this appeal arising from the pandemic. Passion :SPIEL should open a time-space between end and new beginning and keep it open for a while. An in-between, a provisional arrangement, perhaps. Because what is open to the future between no-more and not-yet is the home of contemporary music theatre. Contemporary music theatre is a genre made for such an in-between time, for farewells and new beginnings. It is a genre of trying things out, of experimenting. Of sceptical retrospection and of exploratory, curious, risky and sometimes boisterous forward venture. Contemporary music theatre is a reservoir of wishes, longings, hopes, dreams and utopias.

In any case, I consider passionate play to be a suitable interim pastime: instrumental play, vocal play, physical play, play of thoughts and feelings. Play is a mode of experimentation. Play explores reality and visualises the possible. Contemporary music theatre plays with forms and content, with social and personal concepts. Play also enables the unusual, the extraordinary and the outrageous. Passion :SPIEL is therefore intended to be a playground – a laboratory, a workshop, an experimental field, a research institute, an institute for the future. In the mode of passionate play, contemporary music theatre designs futures. And in play the divided human can rediscover and experience themselves in their lost totality: »Man is only fully a human being when he plays«, wrote Schiller in the »Letters Upon The Aesthetic Education of Man«. In this way the passion play, the play of suffering, becomes Passion :SPIEL, the passion of play.