The Opera South Pole by Miroslav Srnka,
performed at the Bayerische Staatsoper.
Film by Uli Aumüller
Miroslav Srnka, a young Czech technical composer, conceived the idea after being snowed in while trekking with his children through the Giant Mountains: Ever since he very much wanted to write an opera about early expeditions to the South Pole and more specifically about the race between the Brit Robert F. Scott and the Norwegian Roald Amundsen.
He received a commission from the Bayerische Staatsoper, which, moreover, decided to prominently cast this new work and featured Rolando Villazón and Thomas Hampson in leading roles, Petrenko as conductor and Hans Neuenfels as director. During the creative process of the opera, which premiered at the end of January 2016 in Munich and has been sold out ever since, filmmaker Uli Aumüller accompanied the composer for a year - he visited him in Prague, walked with him to the Giant Mountains, recorded the first briefings with the director and was, above all present during rehearsals in Munich, attending the first rehearsals of the singers, in the beginning accompanied by piano, right through to the orchestral rehearsals and premiere.
The abundance of material has been comprised in a 60 minute film - it shows seldom seen insights into the inner works of an opera house, which itself, with this work, has ventured into an expedition of its own with these never before heard sounds and artistic challenges, which could only be achieved in an outstanding team effort.
About the opera:
Just before World War 1. Two men decide to race each other to the end of the world. One of them reaches his goal, a mere speck in the middle of a completely empty ice covered desert and returns safe and sound. The other man and his team freeze to death - and, although he came second, was considered the real winner. In the double-dealing opera South Pole Composer Miroslav Srnka and librettist Tom Holloway explore the myth about Robert F. Scott and Roald Amundsen - not only as it being an admirable physical performance but also to symbolize the human desire to explore, the ambition and arrogance - the overconfidence and the failure of modernity. In his documentary Uli Aumüller follows this ambitious stage work at the Bayerische Staatsoper München.
Robert Falcon Scott - Rolando Villazón
Kathleen Scott - Tara Erraught
Lawrence Oates - Dean Power
Edward “Uncle Bill” Wilson - Kevin Conners
Edgar Evans - Matthew Grills
Henry “Birdie” Bowers - Joshua Owen Mills
Roald Amundsen - Thomas Hampson
Landlady - Mojca Erdmann?
Hjalmar Johansen - Tim Kuypers
Oscar Wisting - John Carpenter
Helmer Hansen - Christian Rieger
Olav Bjaaland - Sean Michael Plumb
Dr. Roland Schwab
Artistic Managing Director
Special thanks to:
and the technical team of the Bayerische Staatsoper
Live Recording Premiere
Bel Air Media
Special thanks to
ZDF / ARTE
Treasures of the NOAA Library
with the kind permission of
A co-production of inpetto filmproduktion berlin,
Bayerischen Rundfunk and the Bayerischen Staatsoper
together with BelAir Media
Film Fernseh Fonds Bayern