A conversation with Alfred Dorfer – “You only adorn yourself with culture on sunny days”


NÖN: Your first opera would have premiered at the Theater an der Wien over a week ago. Instead, she is now on the ORF III program on Sunday. How would that have been? And how is that going now?

Alfred Dorfer: On the one hand, we are struggling with the external circumstances that had an unpleasant influence on our rehearsal work. On the other hand, we are glad that this TV recording was made possible to come to some kind of premiere. I hear that people are also working hard to get the Figaro on stage later.

Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro” is perhaps his most famous – and funniest – opera after the “Magic Flute”. Do you have a laugh too?

Dorfer: We hope that our staging will cover almost everything this masterpiece has to offer. Comedy, where it’s hot, irony anyway, that’s in the libretto, but the social criticism that is suggested is not neglected either. And it gets romantic anyway, especially in the moments when Cherubino appears.

Many have staged the “Figaro” – Gustav Mahler or Gustav Gründgens, Luc Bondy or Otto Schenk. Does that make it harder? And what was it that interested you?

Dorfer: I was well aware that Figaro has a long tradition of staging approaches, but dealing with it would have made me feel more insecure. It is precisely this indomitable nature that is so appealing.

What does an opera need that a cabaret can do without?

Dorfer: In opera there are technical things that have to be considered, which are irrelevant in cabaret. The satirist’s gaze could be useful to the opera because the distance makes new interpretations possible.

You have already sung on stage. In the delicious “Death of a Poodle” with Angelika Kirchschlager. Wouldn’t the role of Figaro have been something for you too? Or do you feel more comfortable behind the curtain?

Dorfer: The opera world has enough problems, we don’t want to burden it with something like singing comedians. But seriously, I prefer directing, it’s a lot less stressful and you’re also a lot less exposed.

With Angelika Kirchschlager, you also started an initiative in June, “We and Culture”. How did it go on? And how’s the culture doing five months and the next lockdown later?

Dorfer: The most striking thing, in contrast to the first lockdown, is the widespread silence among cultural workers. There seems to have been a certain feeling of powerlessness in view of the realization that culture and art are apparently not systemically relevant from the perspective of politics. They are trophies to decorate yourself with on sunny days, nothing else.

What do you wish?

Dorfer: My wish list is long and unrealistic, but I hope that culture will finally get the place it deserves!

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