Kurt Horres: A Visionary in Opera and Stage Direction

Kurt Horres was a prominent figure in the world of opera, known for his impactful contributions as a stage director and opera manager. Throughout his career, he worked tirelessly to promote contemporary opera and was celebrated for his dedication to the art form.

Early Life and Education

Born on November 28, 1932, in Düsseldorf, Germany, Kurt Horres exhibited a passion for the arts from an early age. He pursued his academic interests by studying German studies, theatre science, and art history at the University of Cologne and the Robert Schumann Conservatory in Düsseldorf. This academic foundation laid the groundwork for his future achievements in the world of opera.

A Career in Opera

Kurt Horres’ journey into the world of opera began when he joined the Komische Oper Berlin, where he had the privilege of working alongside the renowned Walter Felsenstein. His early experiences in Berlin set the stage for a remarkable career in opera.

Over the years, Horres held various positions and worked at several prestigious opera houses, including the Wuppertal Opera, Cologne Opera, and Theater Bonn. Notably, he served as the Oberspielleiter at the Theater Lübeck until 1964.

However, it was during his time as the opera manager at the Wuppertaler Bühnen that he made a significant impact. There, he championed literature operas by composers such as Wolfgang Fortner and Gunther Schuller. Horres directed the world premiere of Blacher’s Yvonne, Prinzessin von Burgund on September 15, 1973, a production that featured the acclaimed dancer Pina Bausch in a silent titular role.

His tenure at the Wuppertal Opera also saw the flourishing of Pina Bausch’s dance theatre, further solidifying his influence on the performing arts.

General Manager and Innovator

In 1976, Kurt Horres assumed the role of general manager (Intendant) at the Staatstheater Darmstadt, where he gained recognition for his production of Britten’s Tod in Venedig.

Throughout his career, he directed numerous world premieres, including Klebe’s Das Mädchen aus Domrémy and Klebe’s Die Fastnachtsbeichte, and introduced audiences to contemporary works that challenged traditional norms.

In 1984, he became the general manager of the Hamburg State Opera, where he initiated productions such as Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov. Despite facing challenges and opposition during his time in Hamburg, Horres remained committed to pushing the boundaries of opera.

In 1986, he assumed the role of general manager at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf and Oberhausen, succeeding Grischa Barfuss. During his tenure, approximately one third of the 60 productions focused on 20th-century works, showcasing his commitment to modernity in opera.

Horres also collaborated on a production of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen with the Cologne Opera and directed various operas, including Walter Steffens’s Unter dem Milchwald and Gottfried von Einem’s Kabale und Liebe.

Legacy and Teaching

Kurt Horres’ contributions to the world of opera extended beyond his directorial work. He also shared his expertise as a teacher of stage direction at the Folkwang University.

A Fond Farewell

Kurt Horres’ passing on January 2, 2023, marked the end of an era in the world of opera. He was 90 years old at the time of his passing. His dedication to pushing the boundaries of opera and his belief in its continued relevance as an art form left an indelible mark on the world of performing arts. His legacy continues to inspire future generations of artists and opera enthusiasts alike.