Houston, we have a problem…

Dear opera lovers,

I can’t write as quickly as the events in Immling are “coming thick and fast”.


Between two premieres, our “dream couple” (quote from Markus Blume, Minister of State for Culture and the Arts in Bavaria) received the “PRO MERITIS SCIENTIEAE ET LITTERARUM” award from Minister President Söder in Munich. Cornelia von Kerssenbrock and Ludwig Baumann, “the creative dream team of the magical Immling Festival” received this award as outstanding personalities for their services to science and art. (Here you can find the press release of the Bavarian State Government: https://www.bayern.de/pro-meritis-scientiae-et-litterarum-blume-prgende-persnlichkeiten-der-bayerischen-kulturlandschaft/?seite=2453 ).

A well-deserved prize, in my opinion, and I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate him, no doubt also on behalf of our loyal audience.

However, creativity is not only required in terms of the musical interpretation of a work, the design of a stage or the development of a production!

Both are all-rounders when it comes to Immling: checking press releases before they go out, discussing with ticketing and marketing what to do if the success of a performance has not yet spread to all the audience members, gently taking young singers by the hand and guiding them to top performances – just a small selection of everything that rests on the shoulders of the “Dream Team” on a daily basis (and throughout the year).


Every season, however, the two also work as a “fire department”, because where people work, people get sick. If one choir member is absent, the others can compensate with even more commitment (is that even possible??). But what actually happens when a soloist drops out?

This year, shortly before the premiere, two soloists from the Aida production! Radamés got a complicated vocal cord disease and Amneris broke her leg in Mexico…

When something like this happens, a well-oiled machine is set in motion in Immling. Agencies are called, do we only need one or two appointments or does the role have to be replaced for the whole season? Who is available, who fits vocally into the production, and where are they singing in the world? Sometimes a singer has to be flown in from Korea at short notice to learn the text on the plane because he is due to appear on stage four days later for the premiere and has never sung this particular opera before.

Arrival, the production is discussed all night, the conductor rehearses the next day and the director goes through the individual performances during the breaks. Immling is known to be a challenge for every singer as far as the stage is concerned, because there are performances from above, from below, from behind… so memorizing all the performances, learning or refreshing the text at the same time in case of doubt, possibly keeping cuts in mind and remembering the conductor’s singing instructions while linking the various performances to the respective aria – not only does this require a lot of patience on the part of the director and conductor, it is also a huge challenge for every singer!

And if you think that’s hardly feasible, then consider that a new costume has to be tailored in no time at all, possibly the wig changed, and if – as is often the case in Immling – choreography is also part of the role, then it’s a wonder that the audience doesn’t even realize that there’s someone up there who heard and saw it all for the first time just a few days ago! So if there is a flyer in the program booklet, or the artistic director announces before the performance that a role had to be changed today, a little extra applause for the singers is definitely appropriate.


Finally, let me praise our two premieres last weekend! A Threepenny Opera staged by Verena von Kerssenbrock provided plenty of surprises – and yet strictly adhered to the guidelines of Brecht’s heirs. Fortunately, they didn’t specify how the production should be staged and, as always, Verena von Kerssenbrock has once again come up with a brilliant coup! This production is a must: Brecht has created a timeless text, which Verena von Kerssenbrock brings to the stage with an intensity that at times made me hold my breath for a moment because of its topicality. The Threepenny Opera goes to the pain threshold, because the startling realization that the problems of the 1920s are still highly topical today, whether we look at the increasing ruthlessness or the inhuman actions of individuals or various groups against the poorest of the poor – not much has actually changed!

Do you have children or grandchildren? Then I can only recommend the children’s opera “The Barber of Seville” to you! Immling has long made it its mission to familiarize even the youngest children with opera, and a “Figaro rap” is sometimes incorporated into the Barber to keep the youngest ones interested.

A little insider tip: “…for adults too” doesn’t just apply to gummy bears….

With best regards

Yours, Christiane Berker