In the year 2017, the world will celebrate the historic events of the Reformation for the 500th time. Leipzig, in its various iterations – as a city of music and education, but also as the city of book printing and theology (from Luther’s discussion with the Catholic theologian Johannes Eck to the historic Monday Demonstrations at the Nikolaikirche, or St. Nicholas’ Church) – was a center of Protestantism. In its own way, the Oper Leipzig’s program reflects the significance of this anniversary: over the Ascension weekend, an artistic program that grapples with the theme of religion awaits visitors to Leipzig.
One of the highlights will be a presentation of the rarely performed oratorio Die Himmelfahrt Jesu Christi (The Ascension of Jesus Christ) by Albert Lortzing. The concert takes place in the Peterskirche, or St. Peter’s Church, on the Feast of the Ascension, and features the soloists, chorus, and orchestra of the Musikalische Komödie. During the weekend, two operas by Gounod will also bow at the Opera House: Faust and the seldom-seen Cinq-Mars (translated as The King’s Rebel). The latter is the story of the fatal entanglements of religion and politics.
Rounding out the Oper Leipzig’s program in 2017 is a presentation of Uwe Scholz’ legendary choreography for Mozart’s great Mass in C. In June 2016, the world premiere of Das Biest kann schwimmen. An Luthers langer Tafel (The Beast Can Swim. At Luther’s Long Table) will take place. A collaboration between the Oper Leipzig Children’s Choir and the youth music ensemble “Michael Praetorius,” it is designed to bring today’s youth closer to the figure of Martin Luther and his contemporaries. After its premiere in Leipzig, it will travel to the Wittenberg Renaissance Festival in October.
Ballet Director and Chief Choreographer Mario Schröder created for Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy’s symphonic cantata Lobgesang (Hymn of Praise), during the 2015/16 season. The work, scored for soloists, chorus, and orchestra, premiered at the Thomaskirche, or St. Thomas Church, on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the invention of printing. Johann Sebastian Bach’s Johannespassion (The Passion of St. John) was also heard for the first time at the Thomaskirche, and the premiere of Mario Schröder’s choreography to this oratorio will premiere in the autumn of 2017. Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Don Carlo, which is set amid the spiritual severity of Spanish Catholicism, will be presented as a conscious counterpoint to the Reformation.