News – Ring Award

Verleihung des Goldenen Ehrenzeichen für die Verdienste um die Republik Österreich (c) Bernd Weyringer

Splendid Occasion!

In 1997, the WAGNER FORUM GRAZ with its chairman Heinz Weyringer developed the idea of initiating the RING AWARD, an international competition for the musical theatre, in contrast to similar initiatives with a special focus on stage direction and set design. The RING AWARD is still the only institution of its kind worldwide and offers young artists a professional platform for theatre work with a practical orientation giving them the opportunity of finding an international resonance for their views of what the musical theatre of today should be like.

Intendant Heinz Weyringer has now been given the Golden Medal for his services to the Republic of Austria by the Federal President, Heinz Fischer, in recognition of his longstanding intensive encouragement of the creative innovation potential in the contemporary musical theatre. On 10 May 2015, Heinz Weyringer received this significant official decoration through the hands of the Styrian State Governor, Franz Voves, at the Aula of the Old University of Graz. In 2010 Heinz Weyringer has already received the Great Medal of the Province of Styria.


Marilyn Monroe

Being Marilyn

With “DISPLACE MARILYN MONROE“ Christoph Rodatz, together with the collective I CAN BE YOUR TRANSLATOR, is trying to come closer to that icon, Marilyn Monroe, who even fifty years after her death has lost none of her glamour, enchantment, and contrariness. What emerges is a heterogeneous and tragicomic scenario consisting of choreographies, narrations, improvisations, and scenic elements. The still alive legend serves as a projection space for the performers’ involvement with their self-awareness and perception of others and admits of making almost tangible the brokenness of this female character.

Christoph Rodatz, who participated in the RING AWARD 2000, work incorporates musical theatre, video art, and cabaret, and meanwhile also teaches at the Design Department of Fachhochschule Dortmund. “DISPLACE MARILYN MONROE“ to be seen at Haus der Jugend Barmen (14.06.) & Schauspiel Dortmund (17.06.).

Madama Butterfly

‘Madama Falstaff‘

The Styrian set designer Nicolaus Webern, who at the RING AWARD 2011 together with director Morten K. Roesen and costume designer Carla Caminati won the competition, from 13 June 2015 will dip into the depths of a legendary Far Eastern romance. At Theater Regensburg he will be responsible for the stage design of “MADAMA BUTTERFLY”, probably the most lyrical of Puccini’s operas.

Webern will then be called to Staatstheater Karlsruhe by RING AWARD jury member and Intendant Peter Spuhler to stage Verdi’s “FALSTAFF”. Opening on 12 July 2015.

Isabel Ostermann © Thomas Bartilla


From 12 to 28 June 2015 the Music Festival Potsdam Sanssouci invites its visitors to take a musical stroll through the castles and gardens of Potsdam and enjoy the mixture of auditory pleasure, visual delights and sensual passion that can be experienced in the harmony of the arts.

Isabel Ostermann, finalist at the RING AWARD’s first edition in 1997 and assistant to director luminaries such as Peter Konwitschny, Christoph Marthaler, Christoph Schlingensief, and Andreas Homoki, has meanwhile become the Personal Referent of Intendant Jürgen Flimm and Artistic Production Manager of the Schiller Theater Studio at the State Opera Unter den Linden. In addition to her diverse activities as a director she also serves as a jury member at several renowned competitions for singing and stage direction.

On 13 June she will contribute to the Potsdam Music Festival and produce Alessandro Scarlatti‘s mini-opera “IL GIARDINO D’AMORE” as well as Johann Sebastian Bach’s “BAUERNKANTATE” (“‘PEASANT’ CANTATA”) on the stage of the Schinkel Hall, the famous historical riding stable based on drafts by Karl Friedrich Schinkel.

On 16 June a new opportunity will arise to experience productions by Ostermann of “EUROPERAS III & IV” at the State Opera at Schiller Theater in which one can trace composer John Cage as an avant-garde mastermind and spiritus rector of Fluxus.

Kirschgarten © Chris Rogl


Esther Muschol, RING AWARD 05 semifinalist, was highly acclaimed by both press and audiences for her Austrian premiere of the stage version of Juli Kuh’s criminal story, „SCHILF“ („REEDS”), at Kosmostheater and also found an enthusiastic response to her staging of the erotic and deadly ménage-à-trois, “DER WEIBSTEUFEL” (“THE SHE-DEVIL”), at Theater Phönix in Linz. She has now produced Anton Chekhov’s last play at Schauspielhaus Salzburg.

Chekhov’s “THE CHERRY ORCHARD” conveys intimations of parting, doom and death, but at the same time is one of his most comedic and grotesque plays. The Russian playwright is able to combine an economic and political analysis of society with the depiction of the tragically failed lives of his characters and thus anticipates the sea change of the 20th century.

Opening on 7 May 2015.


Love, marriage, life-long faithfulness

Dutch stage director Jim Lucassen was the winner of the Theater Heidelberg Special Award at the RING AWARD 08 competition for his conception of Verdi’s RIGOLETTO. He presented his promising draft at Oper Graz and Komische Oper Berlin. Together with two further RING AWARD teams, he took up the challenge of crossing the Atlantic and at the invitation of Austrian Cultural Forum New York (acfny) presented his conception in New York to guests from acfny, the NY Wagner Society, and the MET.

Next he will be in charge of producing Mozart’s COSI FAN TUTTE at Opéra de Limoges, a production that was shown already 2012 at Opéra National de Lorraine in Nancy.  Opening night on May 10th.

Christiane Lutz, Natascha Maraval (c) Atelier 9

Hard Times for Death

The RING AWARD team Christiane Lutz and Natascha Maraval, who at the big Schauspielhaus Graz finals won the Supplementary Prize of the RING AWARD jury (EURO 2.000) and were offered a production at the Theater an der Wien (RINALDO), will be guests at the Semperoper Dresden during the season 2015/16. They will be staging DER KAISER VON ATLANTIS (THE EMPEROR OF ATLANTIS) at Semper 2, the opera house’s studio theatre (opening on 19 February 2016). In this chamber opera of 1943, Viktor Ullmann, a composer and student of Schoenberg’s, allegorically addresses Nazi horror delusions and unsparingly prompts burning questions of the time. He was deported to Auschwitz on 16 October 1944 and subsequently murdered in the gas chambers.

Nora Schmid & Heinz Weyringer

Nora Schmid Newly in Charge of Oper Graz

Oper Graz, from the beginning a loyal partner of RING AWARD and with its assembly hall the site of all its semifinals, is one of the most notable opera houses in the German-speaking countries and has been nominated at this year’s International Opera Awards in the category ‘best opera ensemble’.
On 14 April 2015 Intendant Elect Nora Schmid, Chief Conductor Dirk Kaftan, and Ballet Director Elect Jörg Weinöhl informed the spedcialised press about their programme for the upcoming season 2015/16. 

Nora Schmid in Conversation

On the very same day an attentive audience had the additional special opportunity of learning more about the new season and about Intendant Elect Nora Schmid’s artistic views and visions. Heinz Weyringer, RING AWARD Intendant and WAGNER FORUM GRAZ Chairman, opened his home for an exclusive exchange of ideas, moderated by Ernst Naredi-Rainer, senior cultural editor of Kleine Zeitung, in which Nora Schmid provided insight into her artistic plans, expectations and dreams.

From Baroque Music to World Premières

Graz audiences can look forward to many innovations, partly to works that have never been performed here before, but also to what is well-known and already dear to them: the main stage will see ten new productions and one concert opera performance, and three productions will be shown at the studio stage. Throughout the programme will be in the hands of new stage directors.

In her first season at Oper Graz Nora Schmid would like to establish special links with the city of Graz: “In cooperation with my artistic partners I have developed a colourful repertoire for my first season at Oper Graz that in terms of both music and themes is specially geared to Graz. I wish that the stories we will present to Graz audiences will be stimulating, will elicit lively discussions, will touch and possibly irritate them, but will also entertain them.”



How can one effectively stage “DER FREISCHÜTZ” (“THE MARKSMAN”)?

Three young RING AWARD 14 teams followed an invitation by Peter Spuhler, General Intendant of Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe and long-standing RING AWARD jury member, and presented their creative ideas and staging conceptions for “DER FREISCHÜTZ”. In lively group discussions with internationally renowned theatre experts they developed their ideas about how to put this work onto the stage. The participating RING AWARD teams were the semifinalists Daniela Kerck (Germany) & Hannah König (Austria) and Sandra Pocceschi (France) & Cristina Nyffeler (Switzerland) as well as the RING AWARD 14 winners, Verena Stoiber & Sophia Schneider, both from Germany. This highly successful and innovative event was very well received and strengthened the cooperation between Staatstheater Karlsruhe and RING AWARD.



The German-French stage director David Hermann, who in 2000 won the first prize at the big RING AWARD finals for his interpretation of Wagner’s “PARSIFAL”, is now bringing out “LA TRAVIATA” at Oper Zürich. This follows other productions at notable opera houses, such as Oper Bonn, Oper Frankfurt, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Staatstheater Nürnberg, Theater Luzern, Theater Basel, Semperoper Dresden, and Teatro Real in Madrid. He had his debut at the Salzburg Festival with Mozart’s “ASCANIO IN ALBA”, which was originally produced at Nationaltheater Mannheim. Now he dedicates himself to Verdi’s probably most popular opera, whose music most powerfully vacillates between the poles of love and death. 
Opening night on 18th of April. 

Ariadne auf Naxos von Evelyn De Morgan


Holger Müller-Brandes was the very first winner, in 1997, of the RING AWARD, and with this he started his international career as a notable stage director. Though a specialist in contemporary musical theatre (among others,  “DIE PASSAGIERIN“ (“THE PASSENGER”) at Staatstheater Karlsruhe, the submarine opera “DIE FARBE DES WASSERS“ (“THE COLOUR OF WATER”)  at the town pool Berlin-Neukölln), he also again and again dedicates himself to the classical repertory, such as Mozart’s “Così fan tutte“ and “Die Entführung aus dem Serail“ (“THE ABDUCTION FROM THE SERAGLIO”), “La Cenerentola“ by Rossini, Weber’s “Der Freischütz“ (“THE MARKSMAN”), Wagner’s “Der fliegende Holländer“ (“THE FLYING DUTCHMAN”) and the fairy opera “Hänsel und Gretel“ by Humperdinck.

From 19 April 2015 his production of Strauss’s “ARIADNE AUF NAXOS” can be seen at Theater Luzern.

Der Goldene Hahn


Nikolaus Webern, who in 2011 with his stage design for a new reading of the operetta “DIE FLEDERMAUS” (THE BAT”) won the “”, now together with stage director Johannes Pölzgutter enters Alexander Pushkin’s dreamlike fairy-world at the Saarländisches Staatstheater Saarbrücken. He designs the sets for Nikolai Rimski-Korsakov’s opera “THE GOLDEN COCK” (“LE COQ D’OR”), which combines Russian folklore and fairy dreams as well as fantastic and everyday elements. At the same time this Russian jewel based on Pushkin’s eponymous fairytale is a biting satire that throws penetrating light on military incompetence, aristocratic stupidity, and political corruption.
Opening night on March 14th 

L'Enfant et les Sortilèges

With a Child’s Eyes

The French stage director Sandra Pocceschi, who together with her Swiss team mate Cristina Nyffeler just missed entering the RING AWARD 14 finals, now shows her interpretation of Ravel’s “L’ENFANT ET LES SORTILÈGES“ at the Opéra National de Montpellier.  Maurice Ravel’s gem of an opera, which is influenced by jazz and popular music, offers a survey of episodes and styles full of love of life and poetry with the eyes of a child.

Opening night 26 February. 

Salome © Thilo Beu

Head off!

At RING AWARD 2005, the Hungarian stage director and set designer Magdolna Parditka, together with her team mates Anna Malunat and Jan Kattein, won the Ring Award, the Prize of the Province of Styria, and the Prize of the City of Graz.

In 2013, Magdolna Parditka together with director Alexandra Szemerédy opened the new season at Oper Bonn with George Benjamin’s “WRITTEN ON SKIN”. This was immediately following the announcement of her nomination for the Faust Prize of the Deutscher Bühnenverein in the category “Direction Musical Theatre”. The unconventional team of directors has been in close artistic cooperation ever since their joint musical education at the Béla Bartók Conservatory in Budapest. Now both return to Oper Bonn for the direction and design of Richard Strauss’s “SALOME”.

Opening night 1 February 2015.

Der Freischütz © Katrin Ribbe

Hit the Bull’s Eye

The German set designer Kathrin Lea Tag, winner of RING AWARD 2007, has worked for renowned theatres and opera houses (among others, Deutsches Theater Berlin, Thalia Theater Hamburg, Burgtheater Wien, Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin, Königlich Dramatisches Theater in Stockholm, Schauspiel Frankfurt, Oper Frankfurt, Staatsoper Hannover, English National Opera in London, Komische Oper in Berlin, LA Opera, and many more); in cooperation with equally well-known directors (among others, Barrie Kosky, Intendant Komische Oper Berlin and RING AWARD jury member, Christiane Pohle, and Dimiter Gotscheff, whose production of “IVANOV” was even invited  to the Berlin Theatertreffen in 2006).

In a further cooperation she designed the costumes for internationally acclaimed director Michael Thalheimer’s “DER FREISCHÜTZ” (“THE MARKSMAN”) at Staatsoper Berlin. To be seen until 8 February.

ATMEN (c) Lupi Spuma/Schauspielhaus Graz

3 questions to …

Director Sam Brown, winner of the RING AWARD 11, returns to Graz and stages for the first time at the Schauspielhaus Graz. Duncan Macmillan’s play “ATMEN/LUNGS” investigates the interlocking of private and global conflicts at the beginning of the new millennium .
Read an interesting interview with Sam Brown to his new staging here.


DAS KIND UND DIE ZAUBERDINGE (c) Saarländischen Staatstheater

Animated Nursery

RING AWARD 14 semifinalists Sandra Pocceschi (France) and Cristina Nyffeler (Switzerland) narrowly missed entering the finals and were therefore selected by the jury as the reserve team. Their project read “DER FREISCHÜTZ” (“THE MARKSMAN”) as “an uncanny psycho thriller with a political dimension that reflects the driving forces of the music”.

Now Cristina Nyffeler and her sister Franziska have been invited by Saarländisches Staatstheater to design Maurice Ravel‘s children’s opera “L’ENFANT ET LES SORTILÈGES” (“THE CHILD AND THE SPELLS”). This production at Saarbrücken, framed by Ravel’s “PAVANE POUR UNE INFANTE DÉFUNTE” and the second suite of “DAPHNIS ET CHLOÉ”, transforms the nursery into a magical landscape and brings this fantastic world to life by plotted sets which vibrate by animation.

Opening night is on 25 January 2015.

Oper Graz (c) Moodley brand identity

Nomination as Best Opera Ensemble

Oper Graz, which from the very beginning has been a faithful partner of RING AWARD and the site of its semifinals, has good reason to be proud and happy: The Graz Opera House was nominated in the category ‘best opera ensemble’ at International Opera Awards 2015. The finalists were selected under the chairmanship of John Allison, chief editor of the magazine “Opera” and music critic of the “Daily Telegraph”.

In addition, the RING AWARD jurors Barrie Kosky (Intendant, Komische Oper Berlin), Aviel Cahn (Intendant, Opera Vlaanderen, Antwerp) and Peter de Caluwe (Intendant, Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, Brussels) are among the happy nominees for their opera houses, besides English National Opera and Novaya Opera in Moscow.

Members of the jury were Peter Alward, Intendant of the Salzburg Easter Festival, Per Boye Hansen, Artistic Director of the Norwegian National Opera and National Ballet in Oslo, Kathryn Harries, Director of the National Opera Studio in London, ‘Evans Mirageas, Artistic Director of Cincinnati Opera, and Nicholas Paybe, Director of Opera Europe. Also Hugh Canning, chief music critic of the “Sunday Times”, opera and classical music critic George Loomis, critic Erna Metdepenninghen, and music critic Huro Shirley were members of the jury.

The winners will be announced on 26 April 2015 at the award presentation at Savoy Theatre in London.

Annemarie Woods, Heinz Weyringer, Sam Brown (c) Atelier 9

Who still wants a child today?

Sam Brown, together with his set designer Annemarie Woods, in 2011 won the RING AWARD and also the European Award for Stage Direction. Thus he is the only one so far who has won both these awards. Brown, born in England, has staged productions internationally at the Bavarian State Opera, the Theater Lucerne, the Opéra National de Lorraine and, in Austria, the Stadttheater Klagenfurt (“DER ZIGEUNERBARON” – “THE GIPSY BARON”) and Oper Graz (“LA FAVORITE”). 

Now he has returned to Graz and is directing Duncan Macmillan’s “ATMEN” (“BREATHING”) at the rehearsal stage of Schauspielhaus Graz, a play investigating the interlocking of private and global conflicts at the beginning of the new millennium.
The opening night is on January 24th. 


1000 artists from 42 nations

After seven editions the prestigious international musical theatre competition for stage direction and design, RING AWARD, is able to look back on a unique success story. A measurable confirmation of the resonance and necessity of this only competition of its kind is the total number of participants so far running up to almost 1000 young artists from 42 nations. The strong international dimension of the competition is mirrored in the constantly increasing numbers of participants and nations represented from around the world as well as in the distinguished jury members from many countries. Far outside the limits of Graz as the venue of the competition, the RING AWARD has significantly influenced the creative innovation potential of the contemporary musical theatre in all of Europe and beyond. In 2014 the RING AWARD together with the journal “Opernwelt” has also established the “Mortier Award” as an exclusive award in the world of the musical theatre. This award is named after Gerard Mortier, the Belgian opera and festival intendant who died on March 9, 2014, at the age of 70. It is meant to honour the stimulations and achievements of this unique thought leader and pioneer of the contemporary theatre. This special prize was handed over by proxy to conductor Sylvain Cambreling, Mortier’s longstanding companion and close confidant, at the big RING AWARD finals held at the Graz Schauspielhaus and will be awarded every three years.

The next edition of the RING AWARD is planned for 2017. 

Der Herr Karl © Sabine Hauswirth


The Styrian puppet artist and stage director Nikolaus Habjan could recently be experienced at the big RING AWARD finals together with ‘his’ opera diva Gisela Hering on the main stage of the Graz Schauspielhaus and subsequently with Albert Camus’s “DAS MISSVERSTÄNDNIS” (“THE MISUNDERSTANDING”) at the rehearsal stage of the same playhouse. He has now returned to Vienna where the young winner of the Nestroy Theatre Award in the category Best Off Production (“F. ZAWREL – ERBBIOLOGISCH UND SOZIAL MINDERWERTIG“ – “F. ZAWRAL – GENETICALLY AND SOCIALLY INFERIOR”) has had two completely sold-out evenings at the Akademietheater with Helmut Qualtinger’s “DER HERR KARL”. Due to this great success the production will move to the big stage of the Burgtheater on New Year’s Day.

Qualtinger’s text was first staged for puppet theatre with Nikolaus Habjan at the Wiener Schuberttheater and won the audience prize at “bestOFFstyria 2.10”. Qualitinger’s famous monologue, which oscillates between stage play and cabaret, will first be performed as a pure puppet play on the Burgtheater stage. With the help of his puppets Nikolaus Habjan will slip into the most diversified roles which in their totality make up ‘Der Herr Karl’.

On January 20 he will return to his hometown Graz. There the highly acclaimed puppet artist will take part in the big Richard Wagner Jubilee celebrated by the WAGNER FORUM GRAZ and pay artistic homage to the person honoured.


RINALDO (c) Herwig Prammer

suspense meets humour

RING AWARD finalist and stage director Christiane Lutz brought out Handel’s RINALDO at the Theater an der Wien. Together with her designer Natascha Maraval she was able to win this commission at the 2014 RING AWARD finals. 

Both audience and press were thoroughly convinced by this production. RINALDO can be seen until 30 December.

“Suspense meets humour in this staging of a baroque opera by Christiane Lutz. […] The production scores with its sustained conception that does not really contradict the original story of love entanglements around the first crusade, and with its many often witty gags, its tempo and its Hitchcock reminiscences.” (APA)

 “As to southerly climes and their blossoming gardens: in this fresh chamber-opera version, George Frederick Handel’s hero Rinaldo finds himself entangled in a net of spies and put in dangerous situations between London and the deserts of US state Arizona. This carefully camouflaged version […] could win new audiences for operas by the fathers of Mozart and Co.” (Kronen Zeitung)

“Let no-one say that baroque operas cannot be funny! The wildly entertained audience was in stitches at the Wiener Kammeroper seeing the production by Christiane Lutz.” (Wiener Zeitung)

 “The Wiener Kammeroper as a breeding ground for creativity, freshness, and richness of ideas and turns against any form of dreariness – this is what one can experience there with fine regularity. Also in the current production of RINALDO no-one will be bored.” (Kurier)

See all reviews HERE!

Xerxes (c) Karl Forster

Gorgeous Feast for Your Eyes and Ears

Elisabeth Sobotka, Intendantin of Oper Graz and chair of the RING AWARD jury, has once again attracted Stefan Herheim, the internationally renowned director, to Graz, where this time he will stage Handel’s XERXES. Herheim, from Norway, was three times voted “Director of the Year” by the leading opera journal “Opernwelt” (2007 for DON GIOVANNI at Essen, 2008 for PARSIFAL at the Bayreuth Festival, and 2010 for ROSENKAVALIER at Staatsoper Stuttgart).

Following CARMEN and MANON LESCAUT, XERXES is his third production at Oper Graz. In this staging, Herheim combines Handel’s 1738 opera seria with a parallel theatre world and does not shun away from seeing the tumultuous stage activity with contemporary eyes.
Opening night on 29 November 2014.


TRAUMFABRIK (c) Brotfabrik Berlin


The German stage director Holger Müller-Brandes, winner of the first RING AWARD in 1997, traces the fascinating interleaving of film stories and real history at the Berlin Brotfabrik, where he explores the longing and playfulness with dreams that the film promises and that real life by contrast actually lives out.

DREAM FACTORY, a homage to Berlin film pioneers Mia and Joe May, sounds out the world of showbiz in all its facets from Berlin to Hollywood, from yesterday until now.
Opening night is on 26 November.

Catch a glimpse of rehearsals – here!

Musical Firework

The German stage director Christiane Lutz has started rehearsals at Theater an der Wien for a production of Handel’s RINALDO to be premiered on 4 December 2014.
No other opera by the composer was given more often during his lifetime than RINALDO, an opera that forms a musical and scenic firework of special qualities and is full of melodic ideas which Handel put to paper for the opera’s world premiere in 1711.

At the RING AWARD 14 finals, this offer of a production at Theater an der Wien was a prize awarded by Intendant Roland Geyer to the team Lutz/Maraval. 


Rosenkavalier © Sebastian Kowski

Memento mori

Vera Nemirova, stage director, born in Bulgaria, and master disciple of Peter Konwitschny, won the RING AWARD in 2000 and the Encouragement Prize of the ‘Musical Theatre Today’ Academy sponsored by the Bank of Germany in 2002. In March 2006 she received the Art Award Berlin of the Berlin Academy of Arts, section Performing Arts. Her productions were nominated several times by the leading German journal ‘Opernwelt’.
Vera Nemirova is well known to many opera fans and to the international press by her highly acclaimed interpretation of Wagner’s RING OF THE NIBELUNG at Frankfurt Opera. Her much-discussed tetralogy (starting with THE RHINEGOLD in May 2010) saw its completion and culmination in THE TWILIGHT OF THE GODS on 29 January 2012. The opening night’s audience enthusiastically welcomed the production, which has meanwhile reached a cult status as the famous ‘RING with the disks’.

On the occasion of Richard Strauss’s 150th birthday anniversary, Vera Nemirova has brought out a new production of DER ROSENKAVALIER (THE ROSE-BEARER) at the Weimar National Theatre. The story tells a comedy of mistaken identity at the centre of which we find Princess Werdenberg, the Field-Marshal’s wife, as a great moral authority reflecting on the transience of human life.


Der Junge und das Meer (c) Lukas Beck

Happy Birthday, Ben

On the occasion of Benjamin Britten’s, the great composer’s, 100th birthday anniversary, the Vienna Boys’ Choir will sing, play and make music with Nikolaus Habjan, Styrian puppet player, who recently celebrated a most successful and highly acclaimed opening night at the Schauspielhaus Graz. The stage director of this special musical performance at MuTh (Music & Theatre Vienna) is Christiane Lutz. The German director together with her set designer Natascha Maraval won the jury’s Adjunct Prize of EUR 2000 at the RING AWARD 14 finals, in addition to offers for productions at Theater an der Wien and Staatstheater Cottbus. In „Der Junge und das Meer“ (“The Boy and the Sea”) she has developed a concept for a scenic concert based on Benjamin Britten’s children’s opera “Golden Vanity”, which the famous English composer wrote especially for the Vienna Boys’ Choir in 1966.

To be seen at MuTh on 7 & 8 November 2014. 


“Austria’s Puppet Artist Number One”

Last Friday Nikolaus Habjan and two actors from the ensemble of Schaupielhaus Graz let ‚the puppets dance‘ at the theatre’s Rehearsal Stage. Albert Camus’s “The Misunderstanding”, under the direction of Habjan, has already turned into the great public success of the season: few spare tickets are left for all remaining performances.

The “Kronen Zeitung” headline calls the young Styrian artist “Austria’s Puppet Artist Number One” who together with his actor colleagues is able to “fascinate and move the audience with their (puppet) play”. “Do not miss this evening!

Orest (c) Neue Oper Wien

Suing himself …

Nikolaus Webern, who in 2011 won the for his stage design of a new adaptation of the operetta “Die Fledermaus” (“The Bat”), has now become responsible for the sets of “Orest”, Manfred Trojahn’s contemporary work to be brought out by Neue Oper Wien (New Opera Vienna). Neue Oper Wien, since 1990 specialized in modern musical theatre, exclusively concentrates on works of the 20th and 21st centuries and offers an ideal platform for world premieres and Austrian first performances.

From 28 October 2014, Orestes, haunted matricide, will be on the run from himself. We meet him as a homeless social outcast condemned to relive over and over again his own disastrous life story. At Halle E of the Vienna MuseumsQuartier, this tragical hero finally carries on a grim lawsuit against himself, both as defendant and judge, which will – possibly – result in redemption. 

“A unique success story”

The RING AWARD with its three competition stages is still the only international musical theatre competition of its kind. It was successfully held for the seventh time in Graz from 2012 to 2014. At the great finals on 30 May and 1 June 2014, held at Schauspielhaus Graz, young up-and-coming talents were challenged to present their views of what musical theatre should be like today to a prestigious jury and an eagerly attentive public audience.

“The RING AWARD can look back at the history of a unique success story” – said Katharina Wagner, Artistic Director of the Bayreuth Festival, in her laudation at the finals.

The next edition of the RING AWARD is planned for 2017.

the seventh edition

One competition in three stages, 91 teams, 196 participants from 29 different nations  - the RING AWARD is still the only competition of its kind worldwide reflecting the most recent developments in the art of staging musical.

Get some impressions what has happened during the seventh edition of the International Competition for Stage Direction and Design.



“If they don’t have a conflict in their faces they are dead.”

The young puppet artist and stage director Nikolaus Habjan’s production at the Vienna Schuberttheater of F. ZAWREL – GENETICALLY AND SOCIALLY INFERIOR very movingly revived the gripping authentic story of Friedrich Zawrel, who during the time of the Nazis was able to flee from the Vienna hospital ‘Am Spiegelgrund’ and later in life had to meet again his former torturer. For this production Habjan received the Nestroy Theatre Award 2013 (Best Off-Production). He now returns to Graz and stages Albert Camus‘ drama THE MISSUNDERSTANDING at the Schauspielhaus, a tragedy of fate reminiscent of classical antiquity in its stature; it was the all-round artist himself who created the puppets for this production. At the big RING AWARD prize-giving ceremony in June 2014 Graz audiences were already able to experience Nikolaus Habjan and his eccentric puppet miming the once highly-acclaimed opera diva Gisela Hering. And now, from 17 October, the Styrian artist together with two actors from the Graz ensemble will perform at the Schauspielhaus Rehearsal Stage.

Why Nikolaus Habjan when creating his unique puppets always has a ‘conflict in their faces’ in mind, you can find out HERE!



Political prisoners, a corrupt and degenerated society placed in a fiction eastern Germany some day before the wall colapses: that’s FIDELIO directed by the RING AWARD finalist Dan Turdén at the Årsta Folkets Hus.

“Dan Turdén’s direction makes the story clearer, without any extravagances. Using army clothing around a working desk, the methods of power are portrayed.”

 ”In this select and effective performance, Rocco and Pizarro make the greatest impression of how power finds impersonation. … Rocco, captured in a cruel hierarchy, gives a strongly individualized picture of the multi-layered anatomy of dictatorship.”

 ”However small the format of the production is, the music of Beethoven never loses its power. The same can be said about the performance: it is larger than its format.” by Claes Wahlin, Aftonbladet

“Few operas benefit as much from shifts of time and place as Fidelio, and I can very well imagine how positive Beethoven would have been about the idea of letting the story take place during the last days of the Berlin wall.”

“Dan Turdén is a confident stage director …”

“Briliant vocal achievments…” by Lars Sjöberg, Expressen

“This performance of Fidelio is one for the ironic generation where all nobility, that usually characterizes the work, is filtered through a distanced and excessive style of performance …”

“The minister, who in the final scene makes a kind of divine intervention, here quite cleverly appears in a television broadcast … (and) authoritatively declares that the wall has fallen. The prison’s officials immediately begin to destroy all documents.”

“The performance is carried by very skilled singers…” by Bo Löfvendahl, Svenska Dagbladet

Hommage à Gerard Mortier

The magazine Opernwelt and the Ring Award (international competition for stage direction and design) have jointly established a new prize for music theatre – the Mortier Award. The prize is named after the Belgian opera and festival director Gerard Mortier, who died on 9 March 2014 at the age of 70. The name-giver, who is also the first winner of the prize, received the honour posthumously.

The presentation of the first Mortier Award took place on 31 May 2014 at the 7th “Ring Award” finals in Graz. The film director and Oscar prizewinner Michael Haneke delivered the eulogy. The conductor Sylvain Cambreling, Mortier’s long-time companion and confidant, accepted a sculpture made for the Mortier Award by the Berlin sculptor and set designer Alexander Polzin, who recently created the set design for “Lohengrin” at the Teatro Real Madrid – commissioned while Mortier was still in charge of the Teatro Real. The sculpture shows Sisyphus with his boulder.

The Mortier Award aims to honour the ideas and impulses provided by this innovator and pioneer, for whom music theatre was both a human cosmos, and a vital art form revolving around fundamental issues of human existence. Gerard Mortier’s thoughts and actions were always inspired by his belief in the modern relevance of opera – a belief that also profoundly vitalised the music theatre scene.



The Styrian designer Nikolaus Webern, who won the 2011, follows the traces of Jean Cocteau and on the stage of Komische Oper Berlin creates for LES ENFANTS TERRIBLES a magical world of fantasy far beyond reality. Felix Seiler, who showed his talents as a semifinalist at RING AWARD 11, is the stage director of this “dance opera”, in which audience and actors share an almost empty stage. In the mysterious atmosphere of this exceptional location they experience Jean Cocteau’s enigmatic and dreamlike story in a musical version by the famous American composer Philip Glass.

In LES ENFANTS TERRIBLES the creative power of the imagination possesses an almost destructive character, as inevitable as the incessantly forward moving and at no moment resting music for four singers, one actor and three pianos.

Opening night is on 2 July, 2014. 


Get an exclusive peek behind the RING AWARD and listen to what the participants have to say about their adventure.

Gewinner RA14

and the winner is …

We take great pleasure in announcing the winners of RING AWARD 14:         

All major prizes of this International Competition for Stage Direction and Design went to director Verena Stoiber (Germany) and designer Sophia Schneider (Germany). They received the >RING AWARD< (offer of a production at one of the theatre locations in Graz), the prize of the Province of Styria (3000 EUR) and the prize of the City of Graz (3000 EUR).

In addition, this team won special prizes of the following leading opera houses, presented by the respective intendants:

Deutsche Oper Berlin, Intendant Dietmar Schwarz

Staatstheater Karlsruhe, Intendant Peter Spuhler

Staatstheater Nürnberg, Intendant Peter Theiler

Find impressions of the productions HERE  
Find more information on the prizes HERE


Only a few days left until the three RING AWARD teams are staging their own version of DER FREISCHÜTZ at the Schauspielhaus Graz.



Stage director Tobias Kratzer and designer Rainer Sellmaier, who as a team won all the prizes at the Ring Award 2008 and who made their debut at Karlsruhe with WALLENBERG by Erkki-Sven Tüür, have now staged there an impressive production of Wagner‘s DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG. Next they will be doing LOHENGRIN at Weimar.

“A true long throw (…) taking Wagner’s MASTERSINGERS back to what of course they were once meant to be: a comic opera.” (Frankfurter Rundschau)

picture (c) Achim Sieber



Two directors and six singers have been following the Enoa Belcanto Workshop to Gaetano Donizetti’s LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR since March 10 2014, as part of the Talent Development Program of the Dutch National Opera.

At the end of the workshop a number of scenes of this opera were performed in two different versions, sung by young singers, directed by young directors.

RING AWARD semifinals participant Daniela Kerck is one of those two young directors.
The presentation took place on 22 March at the Dutch National Opera.

Tobias Kratzer © Jörg Landsberg


Ring Award 08 winners Tobias Kratzer and Rainer Sellmaier return for a production at Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe.

Richard Wagner’s comic ‘satyr play’ DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG closely scrutinises the world of medieval meistersinging and creates a never obsolete parable on pedantry and lack of imagination, challenging our views on artistic innovation.

DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG – Wagner’s powerful sounds pleading to be curious about novelty – continues the cycle of Wagner’s works opened by Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe with the successful production of TANNHÄUSER. Its realisation is in the hands of director Tobias Kratzer and designer Rainer Sellmaier, who as a team won all the prizes of Ring Award 2008 and introduced themselves to Karlsruhe audiences with Erkki-Sven Tüür’s Wallenberg. Opening night of DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG is on 27 April 2014.

Jim Lucassen (c) Anthony Picoré


Ring Award 08 participant Jim Lucassen presents Handel’s ARIODANTE at Aalto-Musiktheater.

Essen’s Aalto Musiktheater hired Dutch director Jim Lucassen to stage Handel’s drama per musica, ARIODANTE, which is based on an episode in Ludovico Ariosto’s epic poem Orlando furiosO and gives insight into injured soulscapes and love confusion at the Scottish court. Jim Lucassen’s concept of RIGOLETTO was nominated at Ring Award 2008 in Graz, and he presented it at Oper Graz, Komische Oper Berlin and the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York. He won a special prize of the competition for having his concept realised at Theater Heidelberg. ARIODANTE will be premiered on 19 April 2014.


We proudly present the trailer to the Semifinals.

A total of 12 teams have competed to enter the Ring Award 14 Finals. They had to develop a detailed concept of the direction and the accompanying design for staging the second act of Weber’s opera DER FREISCHÜTZ. These concepts were presented at the Semifinals to the top-class RING AWARD Jury and a public audience at the assembly hall of Oper Graz.

Martina Segna


Martina Segna, Ring Award 2005 participant, designs the sets for the new production of ARABELLA.

The Easter Festival Salzburg 2014 centres in a special jubilee: the 150th anniversary of Richard Strauss’s birthday. On this occasion the festival stages a new production of ARABELLA, the last work of collaboration between Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal.

Stage director is Florentine Klepper, a freelance director working, among others, at Staatstheater München am Gärtnerplatz, Theater Lucerne, Prinzregententheater Munich and Staatsoper Stuttgart. The sets are disgned by Martina Segna, who showed her talents at Ring Award 2005. The premiere will be at the Große Festspielhaus on 12 April 2014.

Peter Konwitschny JENUFA © Oper Graz


Virtuoso stage director Peter Konwitschny again returns to Oper Graz.

Czech composer Leoš Janáček’s Jenůfa is a work of downright breathtaking emotional force: the touching story around Jenůfa and her stepmother, the churchwarden’s widow, is set in the world of Moravian peasants, a world which is shaped by narrow-mindedness and bigotry, traditionalism and control, envy and jealousy.

The opera’s challenge, as Peter Konwitschny and his designer Johannes Leiacker see it, does not lie in the clouding of the viewer’s sight by allegedly picturesque forays into Moravian peasant life, but rather in exposing the human fears, desires and passions as they are found in the composition itself, making them not only audible but totally tangible and comprehensible in the theatrical presentation. Deep insight into their human souls is given by Gal James as Jenůfa and Iris Vermillion, who chose Oper Graz for her role debut as the churchwarden’s widow. Opening night is on 20 March 2014. 

Gerard Mortier © Javier del Real

“Mortier Award“ Posthumously Conferred on Gerard Mortier

When the RING AWARD (International Competition for Stage Direction and Design) together with the journal “Opernwelt” developed the idea of a new award in the field of the music theatre, it had already become sadly factual that Gerard Mortier, the name giver and first recipient of the new future-oriented award, was seriously ill. Yet that this great man of the theatre should so soon become a victim of cancer before the official award ceremony took place was nevertheless unexpected and dealt a grievous blow to the “Mortier Award” initiators as it did to the world of the theatre at large.

The implementation of the „Mortier Award“ is a special RING AWARD concern as in its earlier phase Gerard Mortier was for many years centrally involved in the development of the competition. As a member of the jury he was particularly keen on encouraging and assisting the young participants in developing their ideas and projects. Mortier was a pioneer of the RING AWARD success story and led the way in widening the scope of the competition. The new “Mortier Award” is seen by the RING AWARD and “Opernwelt” as a visible tribute to his achievements and as an obligation to do a good job in future in the service of an innovative music theatre.

The „Mortier Award“ is designed to honour the impulses and stimulations coming from this great mastermind and pioneer for whom the music theatre was a precious human cosmos and equally a vital art form dealing with basic issues of our human existence. His belief in the modernity of opera has always spurred the thoughts and actions of the seventy-year-old deceased intendant and permanently inspired the world of the music theatre. Intelligently devised repertoires, unusual castings, pioneering readings of canonical works, the creation of novel production teams, and the opening up of new stage spaces – this is the record of a life achievement that will durably point into the future. 

Tatjana Gürbaca © Atelier 9


Tatjana Gürbaca directs Verdi’s AIDA at Opernhaus Zürich

Verdi’s opera about the impossible love of the enslaved Ethiopian Princess Aida has thrilled millions of people since its world premiere in 1871. In the new production of AIDA at the Opernhaus Zürich, it is Tatjana Gürbaca, winner of Ring Award 2000 and Opera Director of Staatstheater Mainz, who will put the gripping story on stage. Last season Gürbaca has already caused a furor with her absorbing reading of RIGOLETTO, exposing with utmost precision the dramatic heart of Verdi’s masterpiece.

“Tatjana Gürbaca’s very dense reading develops the story fully from the characters themselves and thus throws a completely new light on Verdi’s RIGOLETTO.” (Neue Zürcher Zeitung)

The curtain will first open on AIDA on 2 March 2014

Dominik Mentha (c) Ingo Hoehn

All Good Things Come in Threes

Dominique Mentha, Intendant of Theatre Lucerne and member of the RING AWARD Jury, has hired three former RING AWARD participants as stage directors: David Hermann, Sam Brown, and Tobias Kratzer.

The first one was David Hermann, winner of RING AWARD 2000. He staged PNIMA … INS INNERE by Chaya Czernowin as a musical psychogramme of repression: using no words but pure sound articulation expressed by the singers, he created an acoustic space of destiny filled with painful and poignant stories.

Sam Brown, winner of the most recent edition of the Competition for Stage Direction and Design, came next and staged LA CENERENTOLA. Gioachino Rossini’s turbulent Screwball Comedy, combining dramaturgical ingenuity and scenic wit with romantic magic, captivates with its colourful and diversified music, which on the one hand indulges in a celebration of farcical humour yet on the other concentrates closely on moments of deeply felt emotion.

„They still exist, those opera evenings that can be blithely relished as they are neither boringly dusty nor weird and top-heavy, yet nonetheless very contemporary – those performances that are stunningly entertaining and devilish funny but can do without any cheap platitudes. British director Sam Brown and his team gave us such a splendid evening at Theatre Lucerne.” (

Finally, on 23 February, the red curtain will go up for RING AWARD 08 winner Tobias Kratzer and ‘his’ CARMEN, for a gipsy woman that defies all bourgeois social norms and is undeterred in following her own impulses and desires. She never gives up her self-determination, even at the cost of her life, and is nonetheless honoured by the dignity of a tragical death on the opera stage.



Restaging of DIE PASSAGIERIN (THE PASSENGER) by Mieczysław Weinberg

Holger Müller-Brandes, in 1997 first winner of the RING AWARD, counts contemporary musical theatre among his favourite fields of activity. He has already worked as a stage director for Kulturfabrik Kampnagel in Hamburg, for Oper Graz, and for Staatsoper Hamburg.

Based on the famous Auschwitz novel, DIE PASSAGIERIN (THE PASSENGER) by Zofia Posmysz, the Polish composer Mieczysław Weinberg wrote the eponymous opera, which was completed in 1968 but premiered only in 2006 at a concert performance in Moscow. It finally had its scenic premiere in 2010 at Bregenz Festival. Staatstheater Karlsruhe followed with the German premiere, in continuation of the series ‘Political Opera’, which started with Erkki-Sven Tüür’s WALLENBERG. WALLENBERG was produced by director Tobias Kratzer and designer Rainer Sellmaier, both the winning team of RING AWARD 2008.

21 March 2014 will see Holger Müller-Brandes’s restaging of DIE PASSAGIERIN, a work centring on the highly emotionally charged encounter on an ocean liner of the former SS-controller Lisa and the KZ-prisoner Martha.

Müller-Brandes will be assisted in this production by the visual artist Philipp Fürhofer, who worked with stage director Stefan Herheim in Amsterdam and at Covent Garden and who will create an abstract-magical stage area for this German premiere.

Next dates: 29.03./04.04./13.05./16.05.2014 – each with 19.30 o’clock.  

Brokeback Mountain © Teatro Real de Madrid

Secret Love

A short story was turned into a prize-winning film, and now it has become an opera: BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, the drama of the love between two homosexual cowboys in the American Middle West, is put on stage at Teatro Real Madrid. Premiere 28 January.

It was US composer Charles Wuorinen who had the idea for this opera several years ago, and artistic director Gerard Mortier learned about these plans of the 75-year-old musician, one of the most prominent contemporary American composers, from the newspapers.

Mortier, the Belgian who at the time had a contract with New York Opera, was immediately struck by the idea. Its realisation, however, threatened to fall through because Mortier resigned from the contract on account of drastic financial cuts in New York. Yet the former Intendant of Salzburg Festival did not give up the idea; he took it with him to Madrid, where he became the artistic director of Teatro Real.

Mortier made BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN the centrepiece of his project to align the Spanish capital’s opera house, so far internationally of little significance, with the European top institutions. The journal ‘La Razón’ says: “The opera is Mortier’s provocative legacy.” Mortier, suffering from cancer, gave up his position as artistic director in autumn 2013 yet continues working as a consultant for the theatre. 

The opera is in no way just an adapted version of Ang Lee’s Hollywood film, which was awarded three Oscars in 2006. “The opera is different from the film”, says Annie Proulx, 78-year-old US author and Pulitzer Prize winner, who wrote the short story on the two gay cowboys and also the libretto for the opera. “The film was more of a romantic nature, but not so the opera […], it is darker and concentrates more on the emotional tensions. […] Basically the opera is not about homosexuality, and also not about homophobia. […] It is about the human need of love.”

Belgian stage director and artistic manager of Toneelgroep Amsterdam, Ivo van Hove, is responsible for this world premiere and has received several awards for his past work (among others, the Dutch Critics’ Award in 2007 and the Netherland Prosceniumprijs in 2008). He sees a parallel to Wagner’s opera TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, which at the moment is also given in Madrid: “Both operas deal with an impossible sexual love that can only be experienced outside of ‘normal’ society – this is where, for me, the social interest of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN lies.”


DOCTOR ATOMIC © Falk von Traubenberg


The third trick: following Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s Auschwitz opera DIE PASSAGIERIN (THE PASSENGER) and Erkki-Sven Tüür’s WALLENBERG, Peter Spuhler, Intendant of Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, who is also a RING AWARD jury member, continues his cycle of political operas at his house.

The young stage director Yuval Sharon, who has his roots in the free US musical theatre scene, presents a brilliant DOCTOR ATOMIC – an opera by John Adams about the construction of the first atomic bomb – and is able to thrill both the international press and his audiences by the skill of his directing.

“General murmur at the launch party – rumours of ‘theatre history’ are heard and, as an exception, the compliments, so typical in theatres, this time sound true. […] John Adams’s opera DOCTOR ATOMIC at Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe is an extraordinary achievement.” (, Ekkehard Britsch)

“John Adams’s DOCTOR ATOMIC on the construction of the first atomic bomb has turned into a celebrated public success at its premiere on Saturday evening.” (dpa, Martin Röber)

“With DOCTOR ATOMIC the Badische Staatstheater Karlsruhe has carried off a gripping piece which transcends all common operatic conventions.” (Badisches Tagblatt, Nike Luber)

I would never have thought that a modern musical work can awake such great enthusiasm in me. […] The lesson is clear: a work of such tremendous presence and suggestive fascination as WALLENBERG or THE PASSENGER should act upon us far more often. A very big theatrical event – bravo!” (Der neue Merker, Gerhard Hoffmann)

The full texts of the reviews can be viewed here:



La Traviata © Martina Pipprich

Highly acclaimed TRAVIATA at Staatstheater Mainz

The exceptional Bulgarian stage director Vera Nemirova, who first aroused interest as a finalist at the RING AWARD 2000, now gives new lustre to Verdi’s LA TRAVIATA at Staatstheater Mainz.

Opera director Tatjana Gürbaca, who at the RING AWARD 2000 convinced the jury to make her winner of the prize and who is now herself a member of the RING AWARD directors’ jury, brought Vera Nemirova to Mainz to have her stage an unusual TRAVIATA in which several time levels interlock.

This production was reviewed by many media, including the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. To view this article click HERE.


Team Pocceschi (F) / Nyffeler (CH) (c) Atelier 9

The semifinals team Sandra Pocceschi (F) / Cristina Nyffeler (CH) developed a project seeing DER FREISCHÜTZ as an „uncanny psycho thriller, with a political dimension, that reflects the driving forces of music”. This project almost made it into the finals so that the jury decided to nominate Cristina Nyffeler and Sandra Pocceschi as successors in case that one of the chosen finals teams is unable to participate in the finals from 30 May to 1 June.

PAGLIACCI - GIANNI SCHICCHI (c) Teatro Regio di Parma

Semifinalist and director Federico Grazzini stages at Teatro Regio di Parma.

One day after the RING AWARD 14 semifinal, on 12th of January Ring Award 14 semifinalist Federico Grazzini along with his team members Andrea Belli (scenes) and Valeria Donata Bettela (costumes) staged a twin bill of masterpieces: the chilling Verismo drama PAGLIACCI and the hilarious GIANNI SCHICCHI at Teatro Regio di Parma. PAGLIACCI (The Clowns) & GIANNI SCHICCHI are typically done in a combination that balances drama and tragedy with comedy and satire.

The new arrangements by Federico Grazzini for both operas show a theatrical vitality which underlines its capacity to arouse emotions.

For further information please click HERE!

LUZID © Bettina Frenzel

Peace, Joy, Harmony?

Rafael Spregelburd’s dynamic ‘disaster story’ LUZID shows a family in a state of emergency: mother, daughter and son, who are all skilful in nimbly skipping over their life-lies while maintaining one thing and doing another, work up such a rage during a meal together that their evening, so snugly planned, escalates into a situation that threatens to end up in total collapse.

This family exchange of blows will have its Austrian premiere under the direction of Esther Muschol, who already back in 2005 showed her talents to an international audience at the RING AWARD finals. The opening night is on 17 January 2014 at KosmosTheater Wien.

Finalisten RING AWARD 14 (c) Atelier 9


A total of 12 teams have recently competed to enter the Ring Award 14 Finals. They had to develop a detailed concept of the direction and the accompanying design for staging the second act of Weber’s opera DER FREISCHÜTZ. These concepts were presented at the Semifinals to the top-class Ring Award Jury and a public audience at the assembly hall of Oper Graz. The day before working rehearsals were held in which the jury was able to assess the technical skills of the competing stage directors, and also the stage designers were critically questioned on their concepts. The results of these preliminary assessments became part of the general evaluation of the teams.

We take great pleasure in announcing the winning teams that made it into the Ring Award 14 Finals (in alphabetical order):

Christiane Lutz (Germany) & Natascha Maraval (Austria) 
Verena Stoiber (Germany) & Sophia Schneider (Germany)
Dan Turdén (Sweden) & Marie Moberg (Denmark)

The Audience Prize of 1.500 Euros went to director Lina Hölscher (Germany) and the designer Hanna Penatzer (Austria).

At the third stage of the competition, the Finalists will be required to present the second act of “Der Freischütz” on the stage of Schauspielhaus Graz, after seven days of rehearsal with the singers and musical accompaniment. The Finals will be held from 30 May to 1 July 2014.

Foto credits: Atelier 9 

WAISEN © Lupi Spuma


Lina Hölscher and Hanna Penatzer, who on 11 January will be part of the RING AWARD semifinals, now taking place for the seventh time, will show their talents even before this to Graz audiences: their staging of Dennis Kelly’s WAISEN (ORPHANS) at Ebene 3 (level 3) of Schauspielhaus Graz presents itself as a suspenseful psycho thriller vacillating between love and lies, prejudices and violence.

On 16 December and again on 16 January, audiences will have an opportunity of experiencing at close range how a seemingly romantic dinner party leads into a hazardous political game of deceptions.

Claudia Weyringer

When she heard a Wagner opera for the first time she almost fell asleep – today she is an ardent messenger propagating the works of Richard Wagner.

For many years now Claudia Weyringer, together with her husband Heinz Weyringer, has been a driving force of the Wagner Forum Graz, which is a cultural organization that devotes itself to the dissemination of Richard Wagner, that giant of German music, from a liberal and modern perspective. In addition, she has been an active member of the organizational committee of the internationally renowned music theatre competition RING AWARD.

In an interview given to the monthly magazine DIE STEIRERIN (THE STYRIAN WOMAN), Claudia Weyringer talks about her passion for Wagner and the music theatre in general and offers first insight into the programme of the International Richard Wagner Congress to be held in Graz in 2014 as an artistic and touristic highlight of the year.

The full interview can be visited HERE.


Ring Award winner Sam Brown stages Leonard Bernstein’s CANDIDE at Opéra national de Lorraine.

Before Sam Brown and his professional partner Annemarie Woods will return to Oper Graz (from 26 April 2014) to stage Donizetti’s belcanto opera LA FAVORITE, the English director will go to Nancy for an exciting new production of Leonard Bernstein’s CANDIDE.

Candide, the clueless and naively optimistic hero, in his desperate search for his love experiences an odyssey passing through a villainous and evil world. Instead of the imagined “best of all worlds” he ever anew meets wickedness and bottomless human pits.

Based on Voltaire’s philosophical and satirical novel CANDIDE – a glary mixture of adventure story, fairytale and critical documentary – Bernstein created a colourful composition for the music theatre, which director Sam Brown will now put on the international opera stage at Nancy, to be premiered on 5 December 2013.

Herzlichen Glückwunsch!


The annual critics’ choice of the highly coveted title of „Stage Director of the Year“ carried out by the journal “Opernwelt” this time honoured Tatjana Gürbaca, opera director of Staatstheater Mainz and again this year member of the RING AWARD jury. The decision was motivated by the following reasons as expressed by the verdict:

“She has courage. Takes her risks. Radically tests her works’ here and now. Using stringent, often surreal images. To surprise herself and us. This has been achieved by Tatjana Gürbaca, „Stage Director of the Year“, ever again since her success at the Graz RING AWARD 2000. Last season so with her spine-chilling and beautiful Mainz MACBETH, raving under sunflowers. She has worked at Mainz since 2011 as opera director responsible for the music theatre.

But Tatjana Gürbaca has also won in the category „Performance of the Year“ with her last year’s production of PARSIFAL at Vlaamse Opera Antwerp/Ghent.

At the RING AWARD semifinals on 10 January 2014, Tatjana Gürbaca will be part of a fascinating round table discussion where she is joined, among others, by Elisabeth Sobotka, Intendantin of Oper Graz, Dietmar Schwarz, Intendant of Deutsche Oper Berlin, and Dirk Kaftan, Musical Director of Oper Graz. The topic will be the profession of the opera singer in today’s music theatre; at 8 p. m., Theater Next Liberty, Graz.

In Berlin there is also reason for rejoicing: the Komische Oper was successful and chosen “Opera House of the Year”. The renowned jury of the journal “Opernwelt” justifies its decision by saying that even in their very first season, Barrie Kosky, Intendant and Chief Director, and his colourful and energetic ensemble had tremendous success with their audiences. 

Heartiest congratulations!

Die Pilger von Mekka

Exoticism & Desire

The Austrian stage designer Nikolaus Webern, who together with director Morton K. Roesen and costume designer Carla Caminati won the 2011, will be responsible for the stage design of DIE PILGER VON MEKKA (LA RENCONTRE IMPRÉVUE / LES PÈLERINS DE LA MECQUE) at Landestheater Salzburg, to open on 27 October. This production will be directed by Jacopo Spirei.

Christoph Willibald Gluck’s opéra comique – his version of “The Abduction from the Seraglio“ – combines a variety of stylistic elements, such as oriental folklore, country songs, and demanding arias, and tells the moving story of an aristocrat who sets out in search of his abducted fiancée and finally seeks her out at the court of a sultan.

Next year, Nikolaus Webern will return to Graz, together with the director Josef Maria Krasanovsky: the team will stage a new dramatisation of Ödön von Horvath’s most successful novel, JUGEND OHNE GOTT (YOUTH WITHOUT GOD), to be premiered on 18 February 2014 at Next Liberty.


Semifinals – the die is cast

First of all, we would like to congratulate all participants on their generally very fine contributions to Ring Award 2014!

We are extremely pleased this year about the great number and the high quality of submissions, which made it rather difficult for our jury to reach fair decisions. Even more so than in earlier years, we are sorry about the limited number of teams that can make it into the semifinals, and our jury had to take extra evaluation rounds to reach their verdicts. This year’s participants have again shown that no-one interested in the theatre need be worried about the future of the musical theatre as long as such dedicated young people continue to be active!

Congratulations to the twelve semifinals teams, and we wish all participants the very best and much success with all their future artistic projects!

Semifinals teams RING AWARD 14:

Andrea Bernard (I) / Elena Beccaro (I)

Diane Chèvre-Clément (F) / Barbara del Piano (F)

Anna Dirckinck-Holmfeld (DK) / Signe Beckmann (DK)

Federico Grazzini (I) / Andrea Belli (I) / Valeria Donata Bettella (I)

Lina Hölscher (D) / Hanna Penatzer (A)

Daniela Kerck (D) / Hannah König (A)

Christiane Lutz (D) / Natascha Maraval (A)

Francesco Marchesi (I) / Alessandra Boffelli-Serbolisca (I)

Sandra Pocceschi (F) / Cristina Nyffeler (CH)

Tobias Ribitzky (D) / Florian Angerer (A) / Elvira Freind (D)

Verena Stoiber (D) / Sophia Schneider (D)

Dan Turdén (SWE) / Marie Moberg (DK)


12 instead 9 semifinale teams

semifinals teams

Due to the great number and the consistently high quality of the total of 91 submissions from 29 nations, the RING AWARD 14 jury has identified 12 – instead of the originally planned 9 – teams as qualified to enter the semifinals of this 7th edition of the competition.

The semifinals teams will be announced within a week.


Wagner Expert in Basle

Vera Nemirova, winner of RING AWARD 2000 and several times nominated for best stage direction of the year by the journal ‘Opernwelt’, is preparing LOHENGRIN as her second production at Theater Basel, after a highly successful UN BALLO IN MASCHERA in 2012/13.
Bulgarian-born Nemirova completed her RING DES NIBELUNGEN at Oper Frankfurt in January 2012 and with it has gained the reputation of a highly qualified Wagner expert. Her enthusiastically welcomed Frankfurt RING “in slices” has already become legendary in professional circles.

Nemirova’s LOHENGRIN can be seen from 20 October.

David Hermann

“Oh donna mia!”

David Hermann, winner of RING AWARD 2000, has been invited by Aalto Musiktheater – Theater & Philharmonie Essen to direct Verdi’s MACBETH, whose tinta musicale appears blacker and more desperately eerie than in any other Verdi opera.

Hermann’s production can be seen from 19 October.


The Scourge of God

Legendary stage director Peter Konwitschny, who from the start has been a RING AWARD juror, staged Verdi’s early opera ATTILA at Theater an der Wien in July 2013. This youthful work addresses the bloody struggle between Christian Europe under the leadership of Rome and the pagan intruders. In Konwitschny’s polarising and provocatively funny reading of the opera, Attila the Hun, the Scourge of God, not only devastates Italy in his campaigns of conquest but at the same time slaughters himself through various stages of life – as it were, from kindergarten to nursing home.

“Konwitschny has stripped this ‘Attila’ of any trace of national affects and relishes in dispelling any myth of glorifying war. […] Quite so: Peter Konwitschny always guarantees pure action.“ (Kurier)

On Saturday, 12 October, 3sat will for the first time broadcast Konwitschny’s hotly debated work: at 9:30 p. m. the curtain will rise on this production!  


Opening of the Ball Season

After contributing to the 2013 Wagner year,  Staatstheater Karlsruhe is now starting its homage to same-aged Verdi.

Aron Stiehl, RING AWARD 1997 semifinalist, was invited to stage Verdi’s UN BALLO IN MASCHERA (opening on 12 October). Stiehl was able to show his artistic skills at Karlsruhe before with BARBE-BLEUE, TANNHÄUSER and LA VESTALE, which were highly acclaimed by both press and audience.

Autumn in Styria

semifinals 2014 – the decision

Summer has almost come to an end and autumn is close. 

The jury has almost  come to a decision. The names of the semifinalists will be announced in mid-October.

91 submissions!

The public presentation of the semifinalists’ projects takes place on 11 January 2014 at the »Montagehalle« of Graz Opera House.

Men Women

The RING AWARD already counts 437 male (269 direction; 168 stage design) and 516 female artists (231 direction; 285 stage design) since the first competition in 1997.

This year 74 men (45 direction; 29 stage design) and 108 women (46 direction; 62 stage design) applied for the competition.

29 nations

Around the world …

Since 1997 the RING AWARD counts a total of 492 submissions with 1039 participants. This year 196 young artists from 29 different nations have submitted their promising concepts in 91 teams.

The RING AWARD 14 newcomers are from:

Albania, Argentinia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Columbia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, United States of America

Starting into the 2013/14 Season

who, what, where, when?

A survey of productions by our former RING AWARD participants until the end of the year 

Director Tobias Kratzer and designer Rainer Sellmair, under the name of Team ATEF winners of all prizes at the RING AWARD 2008, have started the season at Nationaltheater Weimar with Wagner’s LOHENGRIN on 7 September. They will return to Austria before Christmas, producing Emmerich Kálmán’s DIE CSÁRDASFÜRSTIN (THE GIPSY PRINCESS) at Stadttheater Klagenfurt, opening night on 19 December.

RING AWARD 2008 finalist Alexander Charim will stage Beethoven’s FIDELIO at Theater Aachen, opening night on 15 September.

Vera Nemirova, winner of RING AWARD 2000, whose productions were frequently nominated by ‘Opernwelt’, will stage LOHENGRIN as her second production at Theater Basel after her great success there with UN BALLO IN MASCHERA in 2012/13. Her LOHENGRIN will open on 20 October.

Tatjana Gürbaca, opera director of Staatstheater Mainz and winner of RING AWARD 2000, will stage Handel’s RINALDO, produced in cooperation with Hochschule für Musik Mainz, opening on 31 October.

David Hermann, RING AWARD winner 2000, will stage Rossini’s L’ITALIANA IN ALGERI at Musiktheater im Revier Gelsenkirchen (première on 28 September), and Verdi’s MACBETH at Aalto Musiktheater – Theater & Philharmonie Essen (to be premièred on 19 October).

Opera lovers will be pleased to hear about a new production by Jim Lucassen, RING AWARD 2008 participant and winner of Theater Heidelberg’s special prize: he has brought out Dvořák’s RUSALKA at Oper Frankfurt on 8 September.  

Aron Stiehl, RING AWARD 1997 semifinalist, will direct Giuseppe Verdi’s UN BALLO IN MASCHERA at Staatstheater Karlsruhe (opening night 12 October).

Esther Muschol, RING AWARD 2005 semifinalist, will return to Landestheater Detmold to direct Bernd Steets’ MARILYN MONROES LETZTES BAND (MARILYN MONROE’S LAST TAPE) (opening night 2 October).

Holger Müller-Brandes, winner of RING AWARD 1997, will open his new season with a surprise underwater-opera: DAS ALTER DER WELT (THE AGE OF THE WORLD), a composition by Susanne Stelzenbach, based on an idea of Claudia Herr’s, to be premièred at Hallenbad Geiselweid Winterthur on 21 September.

Magdolna Parditka, RING AWARD 2005 finalist, is working on the opera WRITTEN ON SKIN by George Benjamin at Theater Bonn. This opera, which had seen its world première at the Festival Aix-en-Provence a year before, had its first production in a German-speaking country at Bayerische Staatsoper in July 2013, which was welcomed with great enthusiasm by both press and audiences. Parditka will use this production’s complete stage design and décor for her direction in Bonn, to be premièred on 29 September.


Ring Award 14 submission

Sensational start with record figures!

With the application deadline of 5 August 2013 the Ring Award 14 – International Competition for Stage Direction and Stage Design has taken its first of three decisive steps. Up to that date directors and designers from all over the world had the opportunity of submitting their conceptions for the chosen competition opera, Carl Maria von Weber’s “Der Freischütz”. 

With a total of 91 submitted conceptions by teams from 29 different nations the Ring Award has reached a record number of applications, but also a record of diversity of submissions in the history of the competitions, which has been in existence since 1997. 



Record numbers of submissions for the 7th Ring Award!

We have received many promising submissions in the past few weeks – the concrete number of how many young artists applied for the competition will be announced soon.


End of submission

The last day of the registration has finally arrived!

Until midnight we are still looking forward to your submission.



It’s August and there are only a few days left until the end of our registration.

Our post office box is looking forward for further registrations and submissions.

Splish Splash


The sun is shining and the refreshing and cool water at the beach is tempting … but still, our young artists have been motivated and creative!

We already received many submissions from all over the world and are looking forward to getting more!

The submission ends on 5th August.

Oper Graz Spielzeit 13/14

The 2013/14 Season at Opera Graz

On 23 April, Elisabeth Sobotka, Intendantin of Opera Graz, and her team presented the productions planned for 2013/14. It will be Sobotka’s last season but one in Graz as new challenges will await her as Intendantin at the Bregenz Festival. Her successor in Graz is Swiss-born Nora Schmid. There will also be a new chief conductor. Dirk Kaftan, First Conductor at Graz Opera from 2006 to 2009 and subsequently Generalmusikdirektor at Augsburg, will follow Johannes Fritzsch.

During the season’s presentation the RING AWARD was twice mentioned. Intendantin Sobotka announced that the RING AWARD 11 winning finalist team Sam Brown (director) and Annemarie Woods (designer) will premiere Donizetti’s rarely performed belcanto opera LA FAVORITE on 26 April 2014. Other productions of the team this year are DER ZIGEUNERBARON (THE GYPSY BARON) at Stadttheater Klagenfurt, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST an Opéra National de Lorraine, and LA CENERENTOLA at Lucerne Theatre.

RING AWARD jury member Peter Konwitschny – multiple director of the year – will again work in Graz. His recent successful productions were LA TRAVIATA and PIQUE DAME at Opera Graz, and this season FAUST at Schauspielhaus Graz, with Udo Samel from Vienna Burgtheater as star title hero. Next year he will stage Leoš Janáček’s JENŮFA at the main stage of Opera Graz, opening night on 29 March 2014.

The season 2013/14 will offer more great classics like Wagner’s LOHENGRIN (for the season’s opening), Mozart’s Zauberflöte (THE MAGIC FLUTE), and Puccini’s Turandot. Further productions include Benatzky’s operetta Im weiSSen Rössl (THE WHITE HORSE INN) and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s  musical CAROUSEL.

OperAktiv!, a theatre-pedagogical programme of Opera Graz, will offer school classes or school theatre groups an opportunity within the project RING AWARD NEXT GENERATION to use the platform of the competition to develop their own conceptions for Wagner’s LOHENGRIN  and qualify themselves as contestants for stage work in the coming decades. Two of the participating groups will finally have a chance to show their presentations to the prominent members of the RING AWARD jury.

The season’s programme book, including a description of all the premieres, can be visited at the Opera Graz website.


RING AWARD goes Youtube

… and action!

RING AWARD goes Youtube.

Many impressions of the past competitions – get it here: RING AWARD Youtube-channel


Martina Segna, RING AWARD 05 participant, designs Wagner’s FLYING DUTCHMAN at Semperoper Dresden

Stage director Florentine Klepper, whose production on Claudio Monteverdi’s L’INCORONAZIONE DI POPPEA was premiered during the 2010/11 season at the Semperoper, will now stage Wagner’s FLYING DUTCHMAN, opening on 15 June.

What interests her in particular is the irruption into reality of the supernatural world so typical of romantic opera, in this case of the Dutchman who is condemned to sail the seas forever. What emerges is a magical dream game. The stage design is in the hands of Martina Segna, who showed her great talents in her conception of Mozart’s LE NOZZE DI FIGARO as a participant of RING AWARD 05.

La Cenerentola (c) Luzerner Theater/Höhnl

Sam Brown and Annemarie Woods stage a turbulent Screwball Comedy at Lucerne Theater

A prince looking for a wife, a paterfamilias in a hopeless financial plight but in a love with the bottle, three sisters under competitive pressure as super models, a butler taking acting lessons, and a philosopher as a life coach and crisis manager – these are the ingredients of the opera buffa LA CENERENTOLA to be produced by RING AWARD 11 winner team Brown and Woods at Lucerne Theater, opening on 2 June.

Brown and Woods will be back in Graz during the next season, when on 26 April 2014 they will stage Donizetti’s rarely produced belcanto opera LA FAVORITE.

Die Passagierin

Big success for Holger Müller-Brandes

Holger Müller-Brandes, in 1997 first winner of the RING AWARD, staged DIE PASSAGIERIN (THE PASSENGER) by the Polish composer Mieczysław Weinberg at the Staatstheater Karlsruhe.

“The audience was fascinated; long lasting applause and finally standing ovations [...] an impressive production” (PAMINA – online-magazine for classical music in Karlsruhe und Umgebung)

 More reviews you can download HERE!

Jim Lucassen WERTHER © Christina Canaval

Successful RING AWARD 08 Participant Jim Lucassen opens the season 2013/14 at Oper Frankfurt

Dutch stage director Jim Lucassen was the winner of the Theater Heidelberg Special Award at the RING AWARD 08 competition for his conception of Verdi’s RIGOLETTO. He presented his promising draft at Oper Graz and Komische Oper Berlin. Together with two further RING AWARD teams, he took up the challenge of crossing the Atlantic and at the invitation of Austrian Cultural Forum New York (acfny) presented his conception in New York to guests from acfny, the NY Wagner Society, and the MET.

As the winner of RING AWARD 08 Special Award he was hired by Theater Heidelberg to do “his” RIGOLETTO in 2009. This premiere at Theater Heidelberg was also Lucassen’s successful debut in Germany. The production was adopted by Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe and staged in November 2011. On 24 September he was in charge of producing Mozart’s COSI FAN TUTTE at Opéra National de Lorraine in Nancy an on 9 September he staged Jules Massenet’s WERTHER at Salzburger Landestheater.

Further challenging projects are awaiting the young director, who was assistant to Robert Carsen, Peter Sellars, Harry Kupfer, Ursel & Karl-Ernst Hermann, among others. In September 2013 he will open the season 2013/14 at Frankfurt, one of Europe’s leading opera houses, with Dvořák’s RUSALKA.


Vera Nemirova, stage director, born in Bulgaria, and master disciple of Peter Konwitschny, won the RING AWARD in 2000 and the Encouragement Prize of the ‘Musical Theatre Today’ Academy sponsored by the Bank of Germany in 2002. In March 2006 she received the Art Award Berlin of the Berlin Academy of Arts, section Performing Arts. Her productions were nominated several times by the leading German journal ‘Opernwelt’. Vera Nemirova is well known to many opera fans and to the international press by her highly acclaimed interpretation of Wagner’s RING OF THE NIBELUNG at Frankfurt Opera. Her much-discussed tetralogy (starting with THE RHINEGOLD in May 2010) saw its completion and culmination in THE TWILIGHT OF THE GODS on 29 January 2012. The opening night’s audience enthusiastically welcomed the production, which has meanwhile reached a cult status as the famous ‘RING with the disks’.

On the occasion of Richard Wagner’s 200th birthday, a new production of TRISTAN AND ISOLDE is planned to come out. After her earlier Bonn successes with MACBETH, FAUST, and L’ELISIR D’AMORE, Nemirova now returns to Bonn, with Stefan Blunier, who conducted TANNHÄUSER at Bonn during the 2009/2010 season, joining her as the musical director.

TRISTAN AND ISOLDE, which was originally considered ‘unperformable’, has since its world premiere at the Munich Court Theatre in 1865 been seen as a pioneering key work of the New Music and is representative for Wagner’s innovative form of the music drama. On 28 April 2013, Vera Nemirova will stage Wagner’s psychological masterwork in Bonn.

Der Weibsteufel © Christian Herzenberger

Esther Muschol, RING AWARD 05 semifinalist, stages Karl Schönherr’s DER WEIBSTEUFEL at Theater Phönix in Linz.

On 30 October 2012, Esther Muschol’s Austrian first production of Juli Zeh’s detective story SCHILF was highly acclaimed by both press and audience at Kosmostheater in Vienna.

In January the young Munich director started her work at Linz and staged Schönherr’s Alpine ménage-à-trois of desire and exploitation at Theater Phönix. The opening night of DER WEIBSTEUFEL took place on 24 January. 


Tatjana Gürbaca, Opera Director of Staatstheater Mainz and 2000 RING AWARD winner, stages PARSIFAL at Vlaamse Opera, Antwerpen. Birgit Meyer, Intendant Oper Köln, also presents an exciting new PARSIFAL at her own house.

Tatjana Gürbaca, who was several times nominated ‚Stage Director of the Year’ by the journal ‘Opernwelt’, was winner in the finals of RING AWARD 2000 and subsequently staged TURANDOT at Oper Graz. Gürbaca studied stage direction at Hochschule für Musik ‚Hanns Eisler’ in Berlin. Her training was completed in master classes of Ruth Berghaus and Peter Konwitschny, among others. Since the 2011/1012 season she has been Opera Director of Staatstheater Mainz, also responsible for a number of new productions.

On 26 March 2013 she will have her opening night of PARSIFAL at Vlaamse Opera, Antwerpen. Both Antwerpen’s own Intendant Aviel Cahn and Tatjana Gürbaca are members of the RING AWARD 14 Theatre Jury.

29 March 2013 will see the opening night of the next PARSIFAL production, this time at Oper Köln. Stage director Carlus Padrissa was born in Barcelona and co-founder of LA FURA DELS BAUS, the legendary theatre company that is known world-wide and has participated in many big events – among them the opening of the Olympic Games in Barcelona. Padrissa is the Artistic Director of the ship NAUMON, which has been converted into a swimming cultural centre. Now he is putting Wagner’s last opera onto the stage of Oper Köln, whose Intendant, Birgit Meyer, is also a member of the RING AWARD 14 Theatre Jury.

Annemarie Woods & Sam Brown

RING AWARD 11 Finalist Team, Director Sam Brown und designer Annemarie Woods, produce Johann Strauss’ ZIGEUNERBARON at Stadttheater Klagenfurt

At RING AWARD 11, Sam Brown and Annemarie Woods had enthusiastic responses to their concept of Johann Strauss’ FLEDERMAUS (THE BAT) from press, audience and the juries. In addition they received an invitation to Theater Luzern. In 2012 their stage concept of Bellini’s I CAPULETI E I MONTECCHI won the first prize at the sixth European Competition for Opera Direction. This production will get further performances at the opera houses of Brescia, Como, Pavia, and Verona. Following Brown’s debut as director at Bayerische Staatsoper München, again jointly with designer Annemarie Woods staging SIGURD DER DRACHENTÖTER (SIGURD THE DRAGON SLAYER), the native Englishman will return to Austria.

On 2 December 2012 he staged DER ZIGEUNERBARON at Stadttheater Klagenfurt. This production can be seen until 23 February. Save your tickets soon.

Further sites during the season 2012/2013 will be, among others, Opéra National de Lorraine (THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST) and Theater Luzern (LA CENERENTOLA).



Carla Caminati, Winner of RING AWARD OFF 2011, at Oper Graz

Carl Millöcker’s GASPARONE will find its opening night at Oper Graz on 28 February 2013. For the production’s scenography Swiss costume designer Carla Caminati will be responsible. In 2011 she won the RING AWARD 0FF jointly with Danish director Morten K. Roesen and Austrian designer Nikolaus Webern. Caminati was born in Basle in 1981 and studied fashion design in Vienna from 2002 to 2006. Further professional training as a fashion designer followed at Antwerpen and Vienna. From 2007 she worked as costume assistant at Opernhaus Zürich, Salzburg Festival, and Theater an der Wien. From 2008 she developed her own costume designs for Theater Neumarkt Zürich, Luzerner Theater, and Theater der Künste Zürich.

During the season 2011/2012 Caminati designed the costumes for Anno Schreier’s world premiere of DIE STADT DER BLINDEN (THE CITY OF THE BLIND) at Opernhaus Zürich, for Donizetti’s MARIA STUARDA at Landestheater Linz, and for Scarlatti’s GRISELDA at Staatstheater Kassel. In 2012/2013 we can see her designs, among others, for Mozart’s ENTFÜHRUNG AUS DEM SERAIL (ABDUCTION FROM THE SERAGLIO) at Saarländisches Staatstheater, and for Purcell’s KING ARTHUR at Landestheater Linz.


David Hermann (c) Pascal Bühning

DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE (THE MAGIC FLUTE) under the Direction of David Hermann

David Hermann, internationally acclaimed stage director, showed his qualities at the second RING AWARD competition in 2000, which was devoted to Richard Wagner’s PARSIFAL and which he won.

Now Aviel Cahn, member of the RING AWARD 14 Theatre Jury, binds the German director to his house. On 12 December 2012 Hermann will stage DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE at Antwerpen’s Vlaamse Opera.


RING AWARD Opening (c) Karim Zaatar


The big highlight at the opening of the already seventh international RING AWARD was the anxiously awaited announcement of the competition opera. RING AWARD 14 will be devoted to Carl Maria von Weber’s romantic opera DER FREISCHÜTZ (The Marksman, The Free Shooter). Registrations can now be submitted online.
Following the opening, a very interesting round-table discussion was held, on the highly stimulating topic of “Which Medium is Suitable for Which Subject Matter?”. It reflected on the wide range of medial forms of expression available today and on the great number of approaches open to the present-day staging of drama and opera, including film, when using and adapting various subject matters.
Speakers were Katrin Lea Tag, designer and winner of the very first competition in 1997, Anna Bergmann, internationally recognized stage director who recently staged DER FREISCHÜTZ at Stadttheater Klagenfurt to open the first season of Intendant Florian Scholz, and Regina Guhl, chief dramaturge at Schauspielhaus Graz, who is presently in the middle of rehearsals for stage luminary Peter Konwitschny’s new production of both parts of FAUST. The discussion was presented and chaired by Susanne Herrnleben.
Find impressions of the event on facebook.

Barrie Kosky (c) Gunnar Geller

Intendant Barrie Kosky Stages Mozart’s ZAUBERFLÖTE at Komische Oper Berlin

Billows of smoke forming pictures – flowers growing in magical quick-motion – elephants swimming in cocktail glasses – flying flutes, tiny dancing bells … nothing seems impossible for the new MAGIC FLUTE at Komische Oper Berlin, staged by RING AWARD jury member and intendant Barrie Kosky in cooperation with British theatre troupe »1927«.
»1927«’s humorous shows and their interaction between film animation and live acting fascinate audiences all over the world. Their two shows, BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA and THE ANIMALS AND CHILDREN TOOK THE STREETS, have won them numerous prizes and brought them around half the globe, from the USA to New Zealand, from Nigeria to South Korea. And now they are setting up camp in Berlin and devoting themselves to Mozart’s fantastic world around Papageno and Papagena.
Opening night is on 25 November 2012 at Komische Oper Berlin.


22 November 2012 at 7.30 pm at the Graz Next Liberty Theatre. Entrance free!

»Which medium is suitable for which subject matter?«

The competition is opened on 22 November 2012 at 7.30 pm at the Graz Next Liberty Theatre. This event, which is open to the public and presented by CLAUDIA WEYRINGER, announces the work to be performed and makes participants familiar with the competition rules and conditions.
A circle of experts, discussing the topic of »Which medium is suitable for which subject matter?«, will reflect on the wide range of medial forms of expression available today. The speakers are: Anna Bergmann, (stage director, Berlin), Katrin Lea Tag (stage designer, Vienna), Regina Guhl (chief dramaturge, Graz). Presentation: SUSANNE HERRNLEBEN, Zurich


Donizetti’s L’ELISIR D’AMORE will be staged on 17 November 2012 at Oper Graz under the direction of Damiano Michieletto, RING AWARD 05 semifinalist

Damiano Michieletto who was born and studied modern literature in Venice, later opera and drama direction in Milan, can be welcomed again in Graz. He will be known to some as a RING AWARD 05 semifinalist, where he and his team C.A.P. 30123 were rewarded for their conception of Mozart’s LE NOZZE DI FOGARO at the Montagehalle of Oper Graz. He now returns to the main stage of Oper Graz, mounting Donizetti’s L’ELISIR D’AMORE. In order to highlight the universal authenticity of emotions that Donizetti shows in his opera, Michieletto’s colourful and fast-moving production transfers the story from an eighteenth-century Basque mountain village to our own present time.
This opera, co-produced with Palacio de la Música de Valencia and Teatro Real Madrid, will open at Oper Graz on 17 November 2012.


Registration starts on 22.11.

From 2012 to 2014, for the seventh time the International Competition for Stage Direction and Design will be held in Graz, Austria. The Competition Opening will take place on 22 November 2012 at 7.30 pm  at Next Liberty.

The registration starts on 22 November and is exclusively possible by filling in the online form here on our website.
We are looking forward to your participation.


Esther Muschol, RING AWARD 05 semifinalist, directs Juli Zeh’s SCHILF

An abduction, a lethal misunderstanding, and an impossible love story – these are the corner stones of Juli Zeh’s novel, SCHILF, which describes a breath-taking criminal case in which through tragic precision and cruel humour the universe of human deficiencies is thoroughly dissected. RING AWARD semifinalist Esther Muschol stages the Austrian premiere of Zeh’s 2007 at the KosmosTheater in Vienna, opening on 30 October 2012.


RING AWARD 05 semifinalist Henrik Müller and Freiburg Young Opera Company show Claude Vivier’s KOPERNIKUS

By performing Vivier’s important opera KOPERNIKUS (Opéra-rituel de mort) the Young Opera Company realises a rare case of musical theatre, which shows the ingenuity of musical language of a composer who is still far too little known in Germany. The opera is directed by Hendrik Müller.
Stage director Hendrik Müller, originally from Berlin, was one of the honoured semifinalists of RING AWARD 05. A year later he won the third prize at the Budapest RING AWARD sequel, at which a special jury selected additional winners from the 2005 RING AWARD teams. Remembering the Mozart anniversary, the competition opera was LE NOZZE DI FIGARO.
Now, at Freiburg Christkirche, Hendrik Müller focuses on Vivier’s utterly unconventional musical language, which, showing influences of Messiaen and far-eastern music, through its interplay with ritualised action lends the work a sacral aura. Elements from musical theatre, dance theatre, and the visual arts merge into an imaginative pictorial world that blurs the traditional parameters of time and space, of dream and reality, of life and death. Opening night is on 26 October 2012.

Peter Konwitschny Werner Kmetisch/ Oper Graz

Revival of RING AWARD jury member Peter Konwitschny’s highly acclaimed LA TRAVIATA at Oper Graz

Peter Konwitschny, internationally celebrated and prize-winning stage director and since long a prominent member of the RING AWARD jury, has staged a large number of much-discussed productions at Oper Graz. On 22 January 2012 his staging of Verdi’s LA TRAVIATA, starring Marlis Petersen as Violetta, was awaited with great excitement. In Graz, he produced Verdi’s melodrama for the first time. The opening night was intensively covered by the international press and brought Oper Graz great audience success as well as full houses. The production became the talk of the town and additionally was broadcast on TV, published as DVD, and meanwhile revived at Nuremberg.

Konwitschny’s reading of the story of the mortally ill Lady of the Camellias is fresh and dusted and totally concentrates on his superb protagonist, Marlis Petersen. The stage is almost empty, only seven curtains serve as sets, working as strong symbols. Konwitschny: “The curtains are simply a symbol of our phases of life which we pass through until at one point the final one comes.” And, so in the end, Violetta is totally alone on the naked, dark stage. On 11 Oktober 2012 in Graz opportunity arises to experience this much-noticed production again at first hand.


Stage Director Damiano Michieletto Appears Twice in Austria

Stage director and RING AWARD 2005 semifinalist Damiano Michieletto will return to Oper Graz on 17 November 2012, doing Gaetano Donizetti’s L’ELISIR D’AMORE in a co-produktion with Palacio de la Música de Valencia and Teatro Real Madrid. Even before this he will see Austria again, at Theater an der Wien, where he will be responsible for staging Puccini’s IL TRITTICO, opening on 10 October. Damiano Michieletto, born in Venice, has made himself an international name within a short period of time as one of the most interesting representatives of the younger generation of Italian directors. He studied opera and drama direction at the Scuola d’Arte Drammatica «Paolo Grassi» in Milan and graduated on modern literature at the University of Venice.


Aron Stiehl, RING AWARD 1997 semifinalist, at Staatstheater Karlsruhe

German stage director Aron Stiehl’s conception of Richard Wagner’s RHEINGOLD had an enthusiastic response from both audience and jury at the semifinals of the first RING AWARD in 1997. 15 years on we can again look forward to a Wagner production directed by Aron Stiehl. Already in anticipation of the Wagner year 1013, Staatstheater Karslruhe is preparing a production of TANNHÄUSER, which takes up the idea of Wagner’s saying, “Folks, let’s do something new!” The opening night is on 7 October 2012. The artist rosalie stages a visionary space of light in which Aron Stiehl situates the drama of the artist Tannhäuser.

rosalie was already responsible for the sets of DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN on Bayreuth’s Green Hill, and Aron Stiehl will be working at Bayreuth for the first time on 8 July of the Wagner year 2013 to direct Wagner’s early LIEBESVERBOT at Oberfrankenhalle, in co-production with Oper Leipzig. Aron Stiehl was born in Wiesbaden. He studied musical theatre direction at Hochschule für Musik and Theater in Hamburg under the guidance of Götz Friedrich, graduating with distinction. From 1996 to 2001 he was permanent director at Bayerische Staatsoper doing DIDO AND AENEAS in 2001 and MEDUSA, a commissioned work, in 2005.

Claudius Körber (c) Lupi Spuma

Bodó Meets Kafka

Stage director Viktor Bodó, born in Budapest in 1978, with AMERIKA, based on Franz Kafka’s novel, will stage his seventh production at Schauspielhaus Graz, venue of the RING AWARD 14 finals. As in years before, Bodó blends the Graz ensemble with actors of his Sputnyik Shipping Company.

This mixture has already yielded highly acclaimed productions at Schauspielhaus Graz: ALICE, based on Lewis Carroll, was invited to several festivals, including Salzburg Festival 2009 and Radikal jung Festival Munich 2008. For this production the Hungarian stage wizard was given the Austrian Nestroy Award for Best Scenography in 2008. During the 2008/09 season Bodó directed Peter Handke’s DIE STUNDE DA WIR NICHTS VONEINANDER WUSSTEN, which brought him an invitation for the Berlin Theatertreffen 2010 and earned him the Moscow Golden Mask for Best Foreign Performance. During the 2009/10 season he directed Ferenc Molnár’s LILIOM in Graz, and a year later DER MEISTER UND MARGARITA, based on Michail Bulgakov’s novel.

On 28 September 2012, Schauspielhaus Graz will open its 2012/13 season with Kafka’s departure novel, AMERIKA. Claudius Körber, member of the ensemble, who was nominated for his performance in PEER GYNT and HAMLET in the category BEST TALENTED YOUNG ACTOR (Nestroy 2011), will star as Karl Roßmann.

Nestroy 2012

Nominated in 3 Categories

Anna Badora, Intendant of Schauspielhaus Graz and chairperson of the RING AWARD 14 Directors’ Jury, who will again open her house and stage for the RING AWARD 14 finals, has good reasons to be pleased. At this year’s Nestroy Award ceremony on 5 November she will be represented in no less than three categories. The world premiere of GEISTER IN PRINCETON, which was the opening production of the 2011/12 season in the stage direction of Anna Badora and at the same time Daniel Kehlmann’s first stage play, has been nominated in three categories.

Steffi Krautz, member of the Graz ensemble, may expect a trophy as Best Actress, and Johannes Silberschneider has been nominated for Best Actor for his fantastic rendering of the pioneering mathematical genius Kurt Gödel. And furthermore, the whole production has been selected by the jury as one of the best productions coming from the Austrian provinces.Best-selling author Daniel Kehlmann (DIE VERMESSUNG DER WELT) can already rejoice over the Nestroy Award for Best Play of the Year.
RING AWARD congratulates Schauspielhaus Graz and Daniel Kehlmann on the distinction and wishes the very best for the award ceremony on 5 November.



Oper Graz Opens the New Season with MANON LESCAUT

Elisabeth Sobotka, Intendant of Oper Graz, will again chair the Ring Award Jury of RING AWARD 14. During the last few years she has again and again offered RING AWARD young talents opportunities to present their conceptions to a wider audience on the stage of Oper Graz. Vienna-born, Sobotka was Chief Expeditor and Chief Operating Officer at Vienna State Opera from 1994 to 2oo2. From 2002 until the end of 2007 she held the position of Opera Director at Berlin State Opera Unter den Linden. From 1 January 2015 she will be Artistic Director of Bregenz Festival.

Yet before this she will start her fourth season in Graz on 6 Oktober 2012 with Puccini’s MANON LESCAUT. The production will be directed by the Norwegian Stefan Herheim, who has already been elected three times Stage Director of the Year by the journal “Opernwelt”: 2007 for DON GIOVANNI in Essen, 2008 for his direction of PARSIFAL at Bayreuth Festival, and 2010 for his ROSENKAVALIER at Stuttgart State Opera. In Graz he has before staged CARMEN and RUSALKA.


Successful RING AWARD 08 Participant Jim Lucassen Stages Mozart at Opéra National de Lorraine

Dutch stage director Jim Lucassen was the winner of the Theater Heidelberg Special Award at the RING AWARD 08 competition for his conception of Verdi’s RIGOLETTO. He presented his promising draft at Oper Graz and Komische Oper Berlin. Together with two further RING AWARD teams, he took up the challenge of crossing the Atlantic and at the invitation of Austrian Cultural Forum New York (acfny) presented his conception in New York to guests from acfny, the NY Wagner Society, and the MET.

As the winner of RING AWARD 08 Special Award he was hired by Theater Heidelberg to do “his” RIGOLETTO in 2009. This premiere at Theater Heidelberg was also Lucassen’s successful debut in Germany. The production was adopted by Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe and staged in November 2011. Next he will be in charge of producing Mozart’s COSI FAN TUTTE at Opéra National de Lorraine in Nancy, opening night on 25 September 2012.

Further challenging projects are awaiting the young director, who was assistant to Robert Carsen, Peter Sellars, Harry Kupfer, Ursel & Karl-Ernst Hermann, among others. In the autumn of 2012 he will stage Jules Massenet’s WERTHER at Salzburger Landestheater, and in September 2013 he will open the season 2013/14 at Frankfurt, one of Europe’s leading opera houses, with Dvořák’s RUSALKA.



An opera of breathtaking emotional impact

The highly moving story of Jenůfa and her mother-in-law, the sextoness, is set in a society which is marked by narrowness, anxiety about the future and ossified moral views. Director Dmitri Tcherniakov now stages it at Opernhaus Zürich for the season’s opening.
Janáček, the humanist, in this opera shows extreme emotional situations of jealousy, violence, shame, crime and punishment. His music wants to open the ‘window to the souls of men’. His psychologically dense narrative tone, with its unmistakable speech rhythm and its pronounced speech melodies, was not immediately intelligible to Janáček’s contemporaries. For a long time the opera could only be seen in the flawed version of the first Prague performance of 1916. Only since 1981 the original version of the score has again been generally available. It also forms the basis of the new Zurich production, which will be directed  and designed by Dmitri Tcherniakov.

Dmitri Tcherniakov, born in Moscow in 1970, completed his studies at the Russian Academy for Theatre Arts in 1993. Ever since, he has directed numerous operas and plays both in Russia and abroad. He regularly also designs the sets himself. He won many Russian theatre awards, among them the Golden Mask. In recent years he was several times named ‘Opera Director of the Year’ in Russia. Fabio Luisi conducts Jenůfa as his first opera by Janáček, and with it he starts his term as Generalmusikdirektor in Zurich.
Opening night is on 23 September 2012 at Opernhaus Zürich.

Andreas Homoki (c) T+T Fotografie / Toni Suter + Tanja Dorendorf


With the season of 2012/13 Alexander Pareira will be succeeded by Andreas Homoki as Intendant of Opernhaus Zürich. Homoki, aged 50, was the Managing Director of Komische Oper Berlin for ten years and has decisively shaped the institution both as Intendant and Stage Director. Through him it became one of the most popular musical stages in Germany.
For his new direction in Zurich Homoki has announced numerous innovations concerning both the artistic programme and staffing. The season of 2012/13 will no longer offer 13, but only 9 new productions, while the 3 ballet premieres will remain unchanged. To reserve more time for rehearsals and in order to strengthen the team spirit, the total number of performances will be reduced by 10 percent. Following the ‘Motto of Opening Up’, there will be a shift of emphasis both in the repertory and for the performers. The audience will get to know a wealth of new faces of stage directors, conductors and singers – thus all stage directors will be working for Opernhaus Zürich for the first time. Complementing the core repertory of Mozart, Wagner and Verdi, more weight will be put on the twentieth century and on baroque opera as well as on children’s opera. For castings, Homoki will be assisted by Opera Director Sophie de Lint.

Fabio Luisi, again holding the title of Generalmuskdirektor, will follow Daniele Gatti as chief conductor. Although at the same time, due to James Levine’s health problems, he will take on more responsibilities as First Guest Conductor at the MET, Luisi, during his first Zurich season, will conduct three new productions, three revivals, and four of seven Philharmonic Concerts, centred on Robert Schumann. For twentieth-century operas, other conductors will be his deputies. The orchestra, in future called ‘Philharmonia Zürich’, is planning guest performances in Switzerland and beyond, with the intention of widening its circle of activities.

The new dramaturge, Claus Spahn, formerly Music Editor of the German weekly DIE ZEIT, will introduce a great variety of theatrical positions, and new readings will be developed for well-known operas. Thus, Sebastian Baumgarten, much-talked-about German director, will attempt a new reading of Mozart’s DON GIOVANNI. Christoph Marthaler’s direction of the Handel Project SALE is awaited with bated breath.

Christian Spuck will follow Heinz Spoerli as new Ballet Director. He will offer both classical and contemporary ballet and introduce step by step, in addition to his own productions, the most important choreographers of our time.

Der Freischütz (c) Christian Kaufmann


Stadttheater Klagenfurt will open its first season under Florian Scholz with four new productions and a ‘Long Night of Short Music’.
The big musical theatre opening of the season will take place on 13 September 2012 and stage DER FREISCHÜTZ by Carl Maria von Weber under the musical direction of chief conductor-elect Alexander Soddy, stage direction by Anna Bergmann, with Celine Byrne as Agathe and Stephan Rügamer as Max. Ännchen will be sung by Carinthia-born soprano Eva Liebau. In this production also the members of the ensemble will become active for the first time. Carl Maria von Weber’s romantic opera in three acts forms a combination of a cheerful rural atmosphere and the diabolical and spine-chilling sphere of the wolf’s glen. At closer inspection, the seemingly peaceful rural community reveals a nightmare quality, and the opera impressively depicts the resulting misery for two young lovers.


Florian Scholz is the New Director of Stadttheater Klagenfurt

German-born Florian Scholz, aged 41, is the new Intendant of Stadttheater Klagenfurt, taking up his position with the 2012/13 season. This is almost an exchange of roles: the Intendant leaving Klagenfurt, Josef Köpplinger, moves to Munich’s Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz, and Scholz leaves Munich’s Bayrischen Staatsoper for Klagenfurt.

Florian Scholz was born at Heidelberg in 1970 and trained as an actor in Paris, Berlin, and Zurich. He was first engaged as an actor and stage director in Berlin and later became advisor to the Generalintendant of Weimar Deutsches Nationaltheater. In 2005/06 he worked as an assistant with Gerard Mortier at Paris Opera and subsequently became consultant to Staatsintendant Nikolaus Bachler at the Bayerische Staatsoper, where from 2008 he was Director of International Relations and Special Projects. Since 2009 he has also been a board member of the European Association for Opera Houses. At the Ring Award 2014 he will act as a member of the Directors’ Jury.

Scholz’s first season at Stadttheater Klagenfurt will be devoted to the theme of NATURAL FORCES – it will be present in all productions in one way or another.

For all the productions young and upcoming stage directors have been attracted who have already caused a stir at renowned international theatres. After a long time Stadttheater Klagenfurt will again have a small ensemble of three members for musical theatre and seven members for drama. As before, numerous well-known guests will appear to realize an interplay between performers who are firmly linked with the theatre and many artists who have been engaged for a particular role. The twelve big stage productions will be supplemented by three studio productions, a highly diversified programme at the Stadttheater, and the Theatre Summer.




The newly designed website of RING AWARD offers a suitable platform to all former participants in the competition for their creative activities.

All participants can be present with their own websites under the heading PARTICIPANTS. Please send an email to, we will be pleased to link you up.



The season 2012/13 at Komische Oper Berlin will start with the three completed operas by Claudio Monteverdi. The trilogy promises twelve hours of many-faceted sensual impressions. Katrin Lea Tag is responsible for the stage design. She was born in Berlin and in 1997 won the first prize at the first RING AWARD competition for her design of the first scene of Wagner’s DAS RHEINGOLD. Opening night on 16 September.

Barrie Kosky © Gunnar Geller


Intendant Barrie Kosky has big ideas for Komische Oper Berlin. For his start as Intendant he is preparing a 12-hour marathon of musical theatre with almost 200 artists participating. The focus is on a trilogy of Claudio Monteverdi’s most important works, ORFEO,  ULISSE, and POPPEA.

This is certainly one of the most exceptional projects of musical theatre today.



The redesign of our website also provides a new RING AWARD Facebook page. Read up on our history, learn about our latest news, and browse through our picture archive showing the highlights of earlier competitions.

We look forward to a busy exchange among users and to your stimulating feedback.

Dietmar Schwarz © Pablo Castagnola


Dietmar Schwarz will follow Kirsten Harms (in  office since 2004) as Intendant of Deutsche Oper Berlin. Schwarz, originally expected to remain Opera Director at Theater Basel until 2016, will start at the German federal capital with the 2012/13 season. Under his direction Opera Basel was selected twice in succession “Opera House of the Year” (2009 and 2010) by a critics’ survey of the professional journal “Opernwelt”.



David Hermann, internationally much-noticed as a stage director, showed his talent as a director of Richard Wagner’s PARSIFAL at the second RING AWARD competition of 2000, which he won. In 2012 he will open the season of Intendant Dietmar Schwarz’s first year as Intendant of Deutsche Oper Berlin with Helmut Lachenmann’s THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL (Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern). Opening night on 15 September.



The RING AWARD 2014 is showing a new face:
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