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No one in the business of creating art can expect an easy and predictable ride. Not even the most established of artists can avoid periodic questioning along the lines of: What’s that you’re working on? What’s the point of it? Who needs it? But art wouldn’t be art if there were a simple answer to such questions. Doubt and the ineffable are at the core of art. If we could explain everything, we would no longer need it.

“Painting! That’s still a thing!” mocks Schwalb, the peasant leader, in Hindemith’s opera. And although Mathis has arrived as an artist and has contacts to patrons and politicians, his art suddenly seems pointless, old and ridiculous to him. And so, to inject meaning into his life, he joins the peasants’ revolt. But he feels out of place in their company, so he goes back to working on his masterpiece.

The ground beneath the feet of opera is solid, no doubt about it. Singers and musicians know their stuff and our programme presents tried and trusted works from the canon. Yet an element of doubt has to remain, regardless of virtuosity. Will the next production be a hit? Will it excite and delight audiences? Is the story we’re telling important? Art only stays relevant if we keep starting from scratch and never take things for granted.

Your Jens-Daniel Herzog
Artistic Director of Staatstheater Nürnberg and Director of Opera

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