National Theater Opera to have a new director

Per Boye Hansen takes over next September and promises to bring international talent

The National Theater Opera will have a new director starting in September 2019. Per Boye Hansen has already been successful in Norway and Germany. He will oversee operas at the National Theater, the Estates Theater and the State Opera.

National Theater Director Jan Burian and Minister of Culture Antonín Staňek made the announcement.

Burian said that the National Theater management had been looking for a person with experience in conducting a comparable opera ensemble, with knowledge of theater management in Central Europe, with a sincere relationship to Czech opera traditions, and with the ability to work in Prague on a day-to-day basis, and with extensive international contacts. “I'm glad that our demands intersect with Per Boye Hansen,” Burian said.

Hansen said he feels very honored to have the opportunity to work in Prague, which he called a city with an amazing opera tradition “Czech opera history, two opera ensembles of the National Theater and three gorgeous opera houses are a huge contribution to the international opera world. I look forward to their further development along with all of my new colleagues,” he added.

Hansen added that he admires Czech musical heritage. “Composers like Smetana, Dvořák, Martinů and Janáček represent a unique part of the history of the opera,” he said, adding it was more remarkable because of the small size of the country.

“Although the opera is , perhaps more than any other art form, international, the importance of local traditions and social and political circumstances is crucial. Theater lives in society and should aim not only to be part of it but also to participate in the whole social and cultural development. One of the most important tasks for me will be to understand the Czech mentality to a greater extent and to explore more closely the structure of your cultural and social peculiarities,” he said.

“I have already had the opportunity to appreciate your unique sense of humor. Mastering the language will certainly be a tricky task, but it will be very useful to get closer to your culture and society,” he added.

He said he intends to maintain the unique profiles of the different venues and to attract more conductors. He also hopes to improve the profile of both the National Theater and State Opera companies. “A visit to the opera should be the main reason for visiting Prague,” he said.

The selection process started in November 2017. Hansen was recommended by Nicholas Payne, executive director of the international organization Opera Europa, as well as any other prominent personalities of European theater.

“I was willing to take part in the search for people who combine the knowledge of the Czech music and theater scenes with international experience and insight, and it is very encouraging that several highly qualified personalities with a strong interest in this task have emerged,” Payne said.

Bernd Loebe, director of Opera Frankfurt and Deutsche Opernkonferenz, said Hansen has always shown high skill in choosing singers and cast. “He is informed about new talents … and maintains an international network of contacts with performers, directors and conductors,” Loebe said

“He has contributed significantly to the development of the whole opera scene. and seems destined to open the opera house to international collaboration,” Loebe said.

Andreas Homoki, managing director of Opernhaus Zürich. said Hansen as one of the most experienced and talented opera managers in the world. “I think any opera house would be happy to win him as the artistic director,” he added.

Hansen, born in Oslo, worked from April 2012 to July 2017 as a director of the Norwegian National Opera. From 2005 to 2012 he was artistic and operational director of the Bergen International Festival.

Since 1999 he has been the casting director of the Komische Oper Berlin. In 2003 he was appointed the director of the opera and as such was responsible for the day-to-day operation of the ensemble.

In 1990 he founded Oslo Arts Management and organized a series of concerts at the Oslo Concert House. In 1994, he was responsible for organizing a series of concerts for the National Olympic Committee, which were part of the Lillehammer Winter Olympics cultural program. From 1984 to 1988 he worked as an assistant director of the opera in Cologne. 

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