Does an opera even need a director? Some seriously ask this question. Try going to the MET Opera website
and find names of their opera directors. Repertory theatres, such as the MET and Bolshoi, do in fact often 'lose' their directors, which is not surprising when you have been staging the same shows for decades. In many cases, the original authors are no longer alive, and new people are involved in the production every year. Among Russian-speaking opera lovers, there is a derogatory term, 'rezhopera', derived from the German 'die Regieopera'. It is often used to talk about classical plays that directors have turned into unidentifiable theatrical corpses.
It is different from the stagione system, in which theatres produce a play for one season and then cease its production for a while or remove it from their repertoire entirely. In such a system, the director's name often provides a bigger boost to ticket sales than the star soprano. But issues may arise even in this format. Dmitry Chernyakov, watching the Dialogues of the Carmelites he directed at the Bavarian opera, recalls
three years later, '...I bought a ticket, just like any other guest, and went there. <...> Ten minutes into the play, I couldn't recognise anything. Technically, the artists were following the idea, but everything seemed fake, dead. In German theatres, if you have a seat in the stalls, which tend to be mostly occupied by grey-headed men, half the row would have to get up to let you out. So I had to wait for the intermission. I was going crazy. I wanted to die right there. During the intermission, I didn't even want to go see the artists or say anything to them.'
As you can see, the theatre can ruin a play even sooner than any director. In today's selection for the #Moskvastoboy project, we include the names that define the face of modern director's opera — Romeo Castellucci, Krzysztof Warlikowski, Patrice Chéreau, Barrie Kosky, and Peter Sellars.