Max Emanuel Cencic
“Blessed with the finest countertenor voice of our day” (Opernwelt), Max Emanuel Cencic has a reputation as a dramatic and virtuoso performer that is second to none. Most unusually for a singer, as Artistic Director of Parnassus Arts Productions since 2001, he has also been responsible for the conception, production and oversight of long-unheard masterpieces of baroque opera seria. In an operatic form that, more than any other, has the voice as its fulcrum, his combination of meticulous research with the ability to assemble performers of unsurpassed ability in this remarkably demanding field has been recognised with numerous awards, including two Echo Klassik prizes and two Grammy nominations.
It was, therefore, perhaps inevitable that Cencic would also bring the role of stage director within his artistic orbit. True to his adventurous spirit, he chose to do this with an almost unknown opera, Siroe, by one of the finest exponents of opera seria, Johann Adolf Hasse, in his day a composer of unparallelled renown throughout Europe, and one whom Cencic regards as the fourth “great” of the German baroque, alongside Bach, Handel and Telemann. Wishing to distance himself from the “cold stages” and “Freudian interpretations” that litter today’s opera houses, he created an exotic “Thousand and One Nights” world of light and colour in which to explore the typically complex relationships of the drama, written by the most famous of all eighteenth-century librettists, Metastasio. Critical reaction to the performances in Versailles, Budapest and Athens was thoroughly enthusiastic: “a deluge of virtuosity and colour”, a “triumphant success”, “a spectacle as inviting as it was sensitive”, “work of unbelievable quality”.
Visual material concerning the production Siroe is available here:Siroe: O placido il mare lunsinghi la sponda
Another production with Max Emanuel Cencic as Stage Director and protagonist is Handel’s Arminio, premiered at the Badische Staatstheater Karlsruhe in February 2016. Set in a Germanic half-world on the borders of the Roman empire, this promises spectacle and intrigue of an altogether different nature.