Jossi Wieler

Jossi Wieler
© BAK/Gneborg

Jossi Wieler

A cooperative reinventor of opera 

Swiss Grand Award for Theatre / Hans Reinhart Ring 2020
Jossi Wieler was born into a liberal Jewish family in Kreuzlingen in 1951 and now lives in Berlin. He has been reinventing musical theatre internationally for a quarter of a century. From 1972 to 1980 he lived in Israel, where he studied stage directing at Tel Aviv University. In 1980 he joined the Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf as assistant director, going on to direct numerous productions at theatres in Germany and Switzerland, in cities including Heidelberg, Bonn, Stuttgart, Basel, Hamburg, Munich, Zurich and Berlin. His productions have also guested at many national and international festivals, including several appearances at the Berlin Theatertreffen: “Amphitryon” in 1985, “Wolken.Heim” by Elfriede Jelinek in 1994 (for which he was also awarded Stage Director of the Year), “Alkestis” in 2002 and “Mittagswende” in 2005. Jossi Wieler is the recipient of many other honours, including the Konrad Wolf Prize from the Berlin Academy of Arts in 2002, the German Critics’ Award in 2005, the Nestroy Prize in 2009 and the Culture Prize from the Canton of Thurgau in 2019.

Since 1994 he has also been creating productions for the opera in tandem with Sergio Morabito. Their collaboration is characterised by mutual dialogue and the sensory exploration of the score for contemporary socio-political relevance. The duo have worked on more than 25 productions at the Staatsoper Stuttgart, where Jossi Wieler was stage director from 2011 to 2018. Their production of Handel’s “Alcina” has also been shown in Edinburgh, Budapest, San Francisco and Lyon. “Ariadne auf Naxos” was voted Production of the Year at the Salzburg Festival in 2001. Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito were voted Directorial Team of the Year in 2002 and received the German “Der Faust” theatre award in the Opera Direction category in 2006 for “Doktor Faust” and in 2012 for “Glückliche Hand / Schicksal”. Jossi Wieler received the State of Baden-Württemberg Culture Prize in 2015 followed in 2016 by its Order of Merit, in recognition of his work in Stuttgart. The Stuttgart Opera was voted Opera House of the Year under Jossi Wieler’s leadership in 2016, explicitly honouring its work as a unique ensemble theatre.

At the end of February 2020 he once again teamed up with Sergio Morabito to stage “Les Huguenots” at the Grand Théâtre de Genève. In partnership with stage and costume designer Anna Viebrock, who has worked with Jossi Wieler for almost forty years, they presented a highly associative interpretation of this opera, while as in all their productions, images and situations narrow the gap between stage and audience and open up new perspectives on the seemingly familiar.

“Rehearsing is like composing together, is how Jossi Wieler describes his work as a director, stressing the importance of people listening to each other. For many years now, Wieler has been regaling us with intelligent and sensitive stagings of theatre and opera: striking compositions of gestures and words, sounds and images that he picks up on by tuning in to his ensemble, yet maintaining respect for each individual and for the theatrical text and work of music. His creations reach out to our lived realities, because here too, attentive listening makes all the difference. The contradictions in his characters are our contradictions: understandable and contemporary despite their historical garb. They are easy to listen to because they have something to say to us, and because they gently entreat us to learn the art of listening to each other.”

Markus Joss, jury member