In Saxony-Anhalt female conductors take over the baton

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Strong female figures on the stage and general directors in power: the music theatres in Saxony-Anhalt become pioneers in gender justice.

That sounds good: the very federal state that treats its music theatres particularly negligently is becoming a pioneer in the field of gender justice. As of autumn, just as many men as women will be in charge of the four opera stages in Saxony-Anhalt. Because both in Halle an der Saale and in Magdeburg general music directors compete. In Dessau, the musical director of the house, Markus L. Frank, is assisted by Elisa Gogou, a first conductor; only in the Northern Harz Städtebundtheater of Halberstadt and Quedlinburg are the men with the baton still among themselves.

44-year-old Anna Skryleva comes to a stage in Magdeburg that is already strongly influenced by women. Karen Stone has been artistic director there for ten years, and there is also an administrative director, a head dramaturge and a head of communications. Skryleva, who comes from Moscow and studied at the Berlin University of the Arts, among others, will conduct 16 concert programmes and three opera productions in her first season. Two of them have title heroes, Janacek’s “Katja Kabanova” and Puccini’s “Turandot”, and in the third, Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito”, strong female characters drive the plot forward.

Unfortunately, Halle currently has Zoff

The Frenchwoman Ariane Matiakh takes over the Staatskapelle Halle, one of the largest symphony orchestras in the country, 90 kilometres south. More musicians play here than with the Berliner Philharmoniker, namely 132 – because the ensemble was merged from two orchestras that existed on the Saale in GDR times. Unfortunately, there is currently some trouble at the theatre, as the managing director of Bühne Halle has had a hell of a quarrel with the directors of the opera and drama divisions. At the press conference at the end of May, where the plans for 2019/20 were presented, Veit Güssow, the deputy artistic director of the opera, announced his resignation. He gave the reason for his resignation as “a progressive poisoning of the working atmosphere”.

39-year-old Ariane Matiakh, who is taking up her first position as General Music Director in Halle, is taking a very cautious approach to her job. She will not be leading a single premiere of music theatre, but only a children’s ballet about “Alice in Wonderland”. In the concert area she will conduct seven of the 14 planned programmes.

After all, the RSB has appointed a guest conductor in Berlin.

Elisa Gogou, born 1974 in Thessaloniki, has already been engaged at the Anhaltisches Theater in Dessau for three seasons. As the 1st conductor she comes second in the hierarchy of the opera section after the music director. In the coming season, she will appear before the orchestra at two concerts and in a production that presents Charlie Chaplin’s film “Lichter der Großstadt” (Lights of the Big City) with live accompaniment. She also conducts new productions of Offenbach’s “Hoffmanns Erzählungen” and Rossini’s “Der Barbier von Sevilla”.

Besides Anna Skryleva and Ariane Matiakh, there are currently only two general music directors on stage in Germany, Joana Mallwitz at the Staatstheater Nuremberg (she was previously music director in Erfurt) and Julia Jones at the Wuppertaler Bühnen. In Berlin, the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester has appointed the 38-year-old American Maestra Karina Canellakis Principal Guest Conductor starting next season.

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