Vita – long
From 2003 to 2013, Theis served as head conductor of the Dresden State Operetta, which was in the midst of a crisis when he arrived. His decidedly conceptual and visionary approach to their artistic work together subsequently helped this institution break into the recording market, brought about a gradually increasing number of guest appearances in renowned concert halls such as the Philharmonie in Cologne, the Laeiszhalle in Hamburg, and the Brucknerhaus in Linz, and drew repeated invitations to renowned festivals such as the Kurt-Weill-Fest in Dessau. 2011 witnessed a political decision to construct a new theatre, which was opened in December 2016—thus ensuring the survival of this institution.
After ten years in Dresden, Ernst Theis left his post in order to devote himself to new ideas—but he did remain true to his established concepts such as “RadioMusiken”, a project built around a series of recordings in collaboration with the Berlin’s Academy of the Arts, Deutschlandradio, Mitteldeutscher Runkfunk, and the German CD label CPO. He presented this project together with the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra at Leipzig’s tradition-steeped Gewandhaus in February 2020 to exuberant audience reactions.
Theis records for his CD label CPO with orchestras including the Deutsche Radiophilharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserlautern, the Munich Radio Orchestra, and the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra. The artistic breadth of his work now ranges from early Viennese classicism to avant-garde repertoire, which he realises successfully with numerous orchestras on multiple continents. Since 2017, he has also served as artistic director of the festival KLANGBADHALL. And his newest project is the FreudeNOW Festival, the launch of which was planned for 2020 but has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2021, Ernst Theis will make his debut appearance at the Deutsche Oper Berlin with a symphonic programme featuring Ute Lemper entitled The Roaring Twenties.
Following three major high points of 2011, the Austrian premier of the RadioMusiken Projekt on 20 March Brucknerhaus Linz, his invitation to the International Brucknerfest Linz on 29 September with Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with mezzo-soprano Brigitte Printer and tenor Herbert Lippert, and finally the 1st annual Johann Strauss Festival Dresden which lead to his intensive work with the compositions of Johann Strauss and Jacques Offenbach, Ernst Theis gave his debut with the NDR Radio Symphony Orchestra Hannover on 19 January 2012, which proved to be yet another success for the Austrian conductor.
His compelling collaboration as guest conductor at the Weill Fest Dessau in 2010 has recently earned him an invitation to return to this noteworthy festival in 2013. On 10 March of that year, Ernst Theis will be at the baton with works by Kurt Weill and his contemporaries.
As for his achievement within the oeuvre of classical modernism, Ernst Theis’ first invitation to the Kurt Weill Festival 2011 (Dessau) was of special significance.
With his performance of Leben in dieser Zeit (by Edmund Nick with text by Erich Kästner), one of the principal compositions for radio of the 1920s, he generated an echo of lasting success. He was then invited back to this important German music festival immediately thereafter by impresario Michael Kaufmann. Consequentially, Ernst Theis has returned full circle to his earlier pursuits during his years of work with modern masterpieces in the 1990s. His concert repertoire includes a wide range of works from this period.
Ernst Theis has been working on and expanding RadioMusiken, a highly specialized project, in Dresden since 2005. This collaborative project between the Mittel Deutsche Radio, Germany Kultur, the Academy of Arts in Berlin, the German record label CPO, and the Dresden State Operetta produces radio performances and recordings of compositions that were written for radio between 1925 and 1935. To date, the project has produced Two Orchestral Suites by Franz Schreker and Ernst Toch, Radio Overtureby Pavel Haas, Berliner Requiem by Kurt Weill, Tänzerische Suite by Edward Künneke, Radio Music No. 1 and 2 by Max Butting, Balladen und Bänkel by Wilhelm Grosz, and the abovementioned radio play Leben in dieser Zeit by Edmund Nick and Erich Kästner, as well as radio plays Mord by Walter Gronostay and Sabinchen by Paul Hindemith. For Sabinchen, Ernst Theis took it upon himself to reconstruct Paul Hindemith’s missing original instrumentation.
The recording of Leben in dieser Zeit was broadcast on Germany Kultur, WDR and MDR to within a few days of its successful release in November 2008.
The next year, alongside a recording of Dimitri Schostakowitsch’s 5th Symphony (Staatskapelle Dresden, Jury Kondraschin, 1965) this recording was to become one of two contributions from Saxony to be broadcast on all ARD stations on the radio programme, 60 Deutsche Jahre. The high-point of this production was its presentation at the Kurt Weill Festival in Dessau 2001 (http://www.kurt-weill.de/pages_d/kwf_2_0_10_0.html). To achieve this level of performance sustainability and simultaneous recognition among experts is indeed rare for musical re-discoveries. Ernst Theis has been chief conductor of the Dresden State Operetta since the beginning of the season 2003/04. This ensemble has been working to build a new performance space and he has supported this project with his artistic contributions and great personal commitment. His work with the compositions of Johann Strauss and Jacques Offenbach has been attracting the attention of the musical theater community for years. Together with the director of the Dresden Theatre, Wolfgang Schaller, he initiated the promotion of the lesser-known works of Johann Strauss with the project Der Unbekannte Johann Strauss (The unknown Johann Strauss). What followed were stage productions and complete recordings of the Strauss operettas The Queen’s Lace Handkerchief, Carnival in Rome and Prince Methuselah as well as La Périchole by Jacques Offenbach, which was the first production of the Der deutsche Offenbach project. This work lead to become part of the above-mentioned 1st Johann Strauss Festival Dresden in 2011.