Parlando: The COC Blog

6/19/2013

Travels with Alexander Neef

By Alexander Neef, General Director

Another excellent season at the COC has come to a close! The 2012/2013 season was deeply satisfying for me because we achieved what I’ve been working towards since I joined the company – consistency in our productions. All of the operas we presented were extremely well thought-through, with superb casts and great artists involved on stage, in the pit, and behind the scenes. The fantastic work by our orchestra and chorus is a testament to the great job our music director, Johannes Debus, has been doing since he arrived four years ago, as well as the expert stewardship that Sandra Horst brings to the chorus. Now, it’s time to move full speed into a fantastic 2013/2014 season.

Summer is the season for festivals and young artists’ programs, both of which are extremely important in long-range future planning. Big festivals like those in Aix-en-Provence, Bayreuth, Salzburg, Glyndebourne, Saint Louis, and Santa Fe are very helpful for me because there’s a huge concentration of opera and talent available to see in a short period of time. Young artists training programs are equally important – for example, the Merola program at San Francisco Opera is one of the great resources for young operatic talent in North America – so I try to visit as many programs as I can. And even better are opera festivals like those in Santa Fe and Saint Louis that combine both mainstage work and training programs, so I can go for one week and see a lot of established artists as well as emerging talent all in one place – it’s a really good use of time.

This summer is unusual because I’ll be visiting some new places and a few that I haven’t gone to in a while. I haven’t been to Bayreuth in more than 10 years, and this summer I’m privileged to go during dress rehearsal week when I’m seeing several rehearsals of new productions, as well as part of their new Ring Cycle. Speaking of Wagner, I’m also going to BBC Proms nights at London’s Royal Albert Hall to see Siegfried and Götterdämmerung, both conducted by Daniel Barenboim with some pretty amazing casts. These productions and concerts involve a lot of singers that I’ve never seen before, and, with quite a bit of Wagner coming to the COC in the next few seasons, it’s great to catch up with that particular talent pool in Europe.

When I’m in Aix, I will revisit our co-production of Don Giovanni, which I’m looking forward to presenting in a future season. I saw it when it opened in Aix in 2010, then again when Teatro Real in Madrid presented it earlier this year, and it’s been great to see it develop and grow over the years. It’s an unusual production, but this Don Giovanni is a very good example of how invigorating an operatic experience can be when the richness of the material is explored, examined and questioned by talented artists.

As stimulating and inspiring as it is to be away, living out of a suitcase for weeks at a time is not my definition of pleasure. I’m moving apartments this week, and it won’t be long before I have to leave, so decorating and fixing it up will have to wait until I get back. Happily, the first two weeks of July are pure vacation, with a visit to see my family in Germany. Life can’t be 100% focused on work, after all!

Photo: bohuang.ca © 2012 

Posted by Meighan Szigeti / in Alexander Neef / comments (2) / permalink

helma neil (6/20/2013 2:23:00 PM)
Dear Alexander; I really enjoyed reading your above commentary on the just completed season here and your share on your upcoming travels. You were very generous! Good Luck with your apartment move and enjoy all the wonderful places your will visit this summer. Enjoy your family in Germany; I was in Berlin last April on the COC Opera Tour to see Wagner's Ring Cycle. We had a great time! Bon Voyage and I am excited for next Season! Regards, Helma Neil
Leonard Rosmarin (7/23/2013 6:03:00 PM)
I feel that the COC is now hitting its stride and moving towards greatness. Although I did not always agree with the concepts behind the productions last year, I can honestly say that I have never been bored. You have been instrumental in bringing the COC up to this very high level.It can now compete with the greatest opera houses in North America and Europe. For this you are to be heartily congratulated, Alexander. I look forward eagerly to my fourth year as a pre-performance speaker. All the best, Leonard Rosmarin

Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001