Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cultures Accelerate their Uniqueness at Semperoper

Most of the readers of this blog by now have probably noticed that I love to write about the local opera house, Semperoper. Traditionally orchestra performances, operas, and ballets are the repertoire of the house - yet this one is certainly different.

Since the new intendant, Dr. Ulrike Hessler, and certainly already under its former intendant Prof. Gerd Ueker a new wind of change (in German) is weighing through the building that looks older than it truly is (only last year it had its 25th anniversary - bombed in large part in the nights of the 13th and 14th, February, 1945 it took several decades until 1977 to restart the rebuild).

Is it really so different to other opera houses? Not just a opera house in the sense we all would expect? Attracting the "silver locks" and "black suits" night after night?

It certainly is, yet most of it has to be explored personally. Even when you have no clue what the concrete outcome of visiting a performance of "Young Choreographers" (premiering tomorrow, three performances already completely sold out - only chance to get tickets being at the box office of Semper 2 30 min prior to performance start) - I love the challenge to try out new staff, that could eventually lead to further personal learning experience. Dresden is the heart of Europe's most dense multi-disciplinary hotspot of emerging technology fields, with cutting edge research, and a rising entrepreneurship eco-system (even though still in a pre-mature phase compared to other tech centers around the world, taken the acceleration, and open cooptition into account).

Semperoper, as a microcosmos of the world as such in a nutshell (pretty much what August the Strong created back in his ruling days) where arts, science, technology, and foreign cultures "clash" in serendipity constantly. Doing business as everybody in the opera world, playing the "old" operas in traditional style and costumes, would certainly enable the box office to sell ticket for premieres for several thousand EUROS per person. Yet the human mind only would see, hear, and feel what it would naturally expect - where is the NEW then coming from?

In a world of changing priorities, shrinking monetary funds, and reshifting the kind of work the Semperoper is reinventing itself every day - from my past experience in the lean management world, which I had also the privilege to lead as an "early mover" at BMW back in 2003, the house is an amazing role model to see what "lean" is about. Changing daily productions on stage, and starting every night sharply at the preset hour is more than amazing.

Last Sunday another outstanding evening of the almost 20 year-long history of "Jazz in der Semperoper" had been announced in the papers and the website. A jazz trio from Palestine bringing not only unheard sounds to the house, and the city - rather setting another mosaic stone in the multi-cultural tribe of house. Having had a rich past of Jewish artists that had to leave Semperoper when the Nazi-government took power in 1933, inviting the group - in my view - gave room for setting closer emotional bounds across diverse cultures.

"Die Welt des Trio Joubran feat. Yousef Hbeisch" pulled the audience completely in its ban, and created a emotional band, that only music, and ballet can create - as individual language, and words plays no role, only the world universal language that is understood across cultural boundaries and enables the creation of trust. Trust is the essential essence of dialogue, that when nurtured for long enough a time enables unimaginable collaborative action that would not be thinkable.

Dresden is rich of such places where the "unexpected culture clashes" can happen in a relaxing, and most fruitful way - lets await the next "Jazz in der Semperoper" and meet together (even though we have no clue what is the concrete outcome - it may be new friends you'd never have met, learning about a style of music that until yesterday did not even bother your thought, or may it be the emotions that pull your tears out thinking about getting along with friends from Serbia, Croatia, Switzerland, England, Italy, Greece, Germany, France, Turkey, Hong Kong, Japan back in 1991).

Everybody will draw something different from attending a performance at Semperoper, and it will be different from the kind of performance, and her or his personal past experience. Looking forward to a fruitful future of "Jazz in der Semperoper" that got very positive feedback by Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten (in German).

As always, a short PresencingStatus on the event:

Good: amazing cultural spanning performance, emotional connection with the audience
Tricky: some sounds my ears are not yet used to
Learned: holding the tension, not knowing what to come - always good for personal learning
Action: finding out what is about the rumors that "Jazz in der Semperoper" will finish
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