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William Friedkin
30 May 2012

Thunder Storm at the Theater an der Wien

Conflicts like this usually remain inside opera house walls. The three Viennese daily newspapers carried headlines reporting that Oscar-winning director William Friedkin called the intendant of the Theater an der Wien a “liar.”

Thunder Storm at the Theater an der Wien

By Frank Cadenhead

Above: William Friedkin


He was reacting to comments of Roland Geyer, chief of Vienna’s second opera, who, in July, is returning the Friedkin production of Jacques Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann to his Theater an der Wien for a second run. Geyer maintained that this revival, with important changes, was known to Friedkin. Geyer also explained that these modifications to the production made him the new stage director.

Geyer explained last week that he had added some material and made some cuts to the opera resulting in a new staging shorter by “almost half an hour.” Friedkin suggested that this was like a “dog peeing on a tree” and claiming ownership. He also asserts that he was never told of the Theater’s dissatisfaction with the March production and had intended to return to Vienna to direct a new cast.

The performing version used at the Theater an der Wien was based on the recent integral edition of the opera, considered by many to be definitive, edited by Michael Kaye and Jean-Christophe Keck. Kaye supported Friedkin’s work in this production. This edition, including material the composer was working on when he died, ran three and a half hours (with one intermission) in March.

Frank Cadenhead

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