Stefan Herheim, "Opera for me is not about entertaining people or giving them a good time"

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday, 12 May 2019 | 2:51:00 pm

In an interview with the Telegraph, Stefan Herheim told Rupert Christiansen "Opera for me is not about entertaining people or giving them a good time" [Ed: We know Stefan. We know. But despite the best efforts of many, some of us still do]. Then what is it about? "It is about bringing us together to confront our most pressing and dreadful problems. Perhaps art can’t change the world, but it can change the way that people can think and feel. This makes opera a spiritual experience for me.”

Of course, some art [Ed: Surely all, in some small way?] seems to have tried to do this from the outset and was one, if not the only, intention of the creator. Verdi's Traviata or Puccini's Madame Butterfly comes to mind. And of course, much, if not all of Wagner's work. So, does that mean keeping the message and lessons of the creators intent - if they exist? Nearly, but not fully. “I always aim to tell the story and to get to its essence, but I want to add other perspectives. Opera audiences need to see with their ears and hear with their eyes: it can never be a simple experience, and if audiences all leave the auditorium thinking differently about what they have witnessed then I have succeeded.”