Review of Chronik der Wiener Staatsoper 1869–2009

Andreas Láng and Oliver Láng: Chronik der Staatsoper 1869–2009
Wiener Staatsoper Gmbh, 2009
The Wiener Staatsoper being one on my favorite houses, I looked forward to getting the book. There was a previous mini version of it covering the time from the end of World War II to the present. Ioan Holender in the preface writes that you can get all the cast information. How does it measure with what is in the book?
The book has two parts. The first part (Werkverzeichnis) lists the operas given during the period covered. It has 466 pages. Each entry contains the following:
  • the dates of the first and last performance
  • all the different productions with date of the premiere and the total number of performances
  • for every production the dates of the run with the conductors and casts listed by role, and the total of performances for every person
  • for every production each singer and the conductor of the premiere
    For examaple, one can find the cast of the premiere of Ariadne auf Naxos for the production starting May 10, 1935: Kalenberg, Schwarz, Hadrabová etc, Krips. For the other performances, you cannot find the dates and casts.

    The second part (Künstlerverzeichnis) gives you all the operas sung or conducted by the different artists. It has 932 pages. It has a drawback, it is divided in two parts: 1869–1944 and 1945–2009. Probably because part 2 already existed in a previous edition and it was simpler to add data to bring it up to 2009. This means that for a singer like Lorenz, you have to look in both parts to find what he sang during his career at the Staatsoper. Every artist entry contains the following:
  • a list of all his roles
  • for each role, the number of performances and the dates of the first and last performances
    Again it is not possible to establish a complete chronology for the artist's appearances at the Staatsoper.

    What about errors? There certainly must be some in a work of that scope! I was not looking for any; I stumbled by accident on one, because of a fight on Opera-L between Bill Ecker, a seller of autographs, and Rudi van den Bulck, ex-editor of defunct Fasolt site and later in charge of Opera Nostalgia. The dispute was regarding Rudolf Bandler. Mr. Ecker wrote that Bandler never sang at the Staatsoper because Marcel Prawy had told him so. Mr. Van den Bulck answered that according to a reliable source (this book), Bandler did sing at the Staatsoper. Mr. Ecker got mad and said not true because Marcel Prawy told him that in the 30s no Jewish singers sang at the Staatsoper (I checked with a knowledgeable source in Vienna, it was not true before Hitler came)... finally Mr. Ecker asked for the proof of a copy of a cast list with Bandler on it. Let's look at the Bandler entry in the book:
    Bartolo        Barbiere        4 times 1919-1922
    Les Huguenots  St. Bris        1 time 1922
    Entführung     Konstanze       1 time 1933
    Traviata       Violetta        1 time 1933
    Prophète       Jean de Leyde   1 time 1890
    Rienzi         Rienzi          1 time 1890
    Now anybody would see that there is something missing here. Let's visit the Entführung, Traviata, Prophète and Rienzi entries and we see that the forgotten singers are: Eva von Bandrowska, Alexander von Bandrowski. Those are the two names missing in the alphabetical list after Bandler. This kind of error probably happened somewhere else in the book.

    There was a previous book on the Staatsoper on that topic: Franz Hadamowsky Die Wiener Hoftheater (Staatstheater), Teil 2: Die Wiener Hofoper (Staatsoper), 1811–1974. The book covers also ballets and has 669 pages. An opera entry contains:
  • the different production dates
  • for each production all the performance dates
    You can also find the names of the premiere conductors, the names of the costume designers, the names of the set designers, the names of the producers, even sometimes the name of the photographer, but NO cast list, only a reference number for the reader to look up in other sources. It is a great shame that the two books could not be combined. In Hadamowsky's book, Les huguenots are to be found under Die Welfen und die Gibellinen, a name given to the opera by the censor of the time for the production of December 10, 1839.

  • Go Home