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03 Jul 2012
Lots of Loose Ends in Cologne
The fall-out from the very public display of anger on both sides continues in Cologne. Uwe Erich Laufenberg, 51, director of the city’s opera, one of the leading operas in Germany, was fired with immediate effect on June 22.
The Cultural Affairs deputy, Georg Quander, the subject of biting attacks by Laufenberg, made the announcement of the city council’s vote after a month long public dispute over the financing of the upcoming season. Council members of the opposing political party criticized the action.
Laufenberg, whose employment contract included the next season, was to direct three of the new productions announced plus sing the role of Henry Higgins in the production of Lerner and Loewe’s “My Fair Lady.” He is still listed in those roles on the opera’s website however a local press report only just today has indicated that unnamed new directors will take over the new productions of “Parsifal” and “Marriage of Figaro” and an unnamed vocalist will sing the role of Professor Higgins. Laufenberg’s production of “Cosi fan Tutti,” scheduled in the Fall, is essentially complete and will be staged by assistants. Laufenberg had raised the possibility of court action against the city.
Laufenberg’s behavior, according to the mayor, Jürgen Roters, was “disgraceful and unacceptable.” Laufenberg did make a public apology in the press: “Of course I accept what the city requires of its opera director and that they do not want me to refer to city managers as scheming, incompetent and irresponsible.” Quander criticized the apology as “half-hearted.”
The vacant intendant’s seat, temporarily filled now by Karin Baier, will soon again become vacant as she is leaving for another theater position in Hamburg in 2013. In addition, the respected director of the city’s orchestra, Markus Stenz, announced he will be leaving at the end of the 2013/14 season. Most expected him to exercise the two year renewal option in his contract. Since 2003, Stenz has been the artistic director of the Gürzenich Orchester and also holds the title of Generalmusikdirektor for the city of Cologne.
Click here for our earlier report on this controversy.