Science Fiction of Yesteryear

The Opera South Pole by Miroslav Srnka performed at the Bayerische Staatsoper.

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.

Miroslav Srnka

Tom Holloway

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

Bayerisches Staatsorchester

Musical direction
Kirill Petrenko?

Hans Neuenfels

Hans Neuenfels
Katrin Connan

Andrea Schmidt-Futterer

Stefan Bolliger

Conceptual co-operation
Henry Arnold

Malte Krasting

Wolfram Nehls

Bayerische Staatsoper

Director General
Nikolaus Bachler

Executive Director
Dr. Roland Schwab

Artistic Managing Director
Viktor Schoner

Special thanks to:

Video Manager
Lea Heutelbeck

Sound Manager
Thomas Rott

and the technical team of the Bayerische Staatsoper

Live Recording Premiere
Bel Air Media

Myriam Hoyer

Production Manager
Coline Jolly

François Duplat

Special thanks to

inpetto filmproduktion

Uli Aumüller
Dirk Heuer
Marino Solokhov

camera assistant
Sebastian Rausch

Daniel Zirngibl

Doreen Ignaszewski

Sebastian Riederer

color correction
Jürgen Pertak

Mechteld Albus

Hanne Kaisik

historical pictures
Treasures of the NOAA Library

with the kind permission of
Bärenreiter Verlages
Kassel-Basel-London-New York-Praha

A co-production of inpetto filmproduktion berlin,
Bayerischen Rundfunk and the Bayerischen Staatsoper
together with BelAir Media

financial assistance
Film Fernseh Fonds Bayern

Cast & Crew

Uli Aumüller, Hans Neuenfels (Opernregie)
François Duplat, Hanne Kaisik
Tom Holloway
Director of photography
Dirk Heuer, Marino Solokhov
Main Cast
Rolando Villazón, Tara Erraught, Thomas Hampson, Mojca Erdmann
Associate producer
Coline Jolly
1. Assistant of the director of photography
Sebastian Rausch
Editor (Cut)
Doreen Ignaszewski
Daniel Zirngibl
Sebastian Riederer
Sound Design
Wolfram Nehls
Original Score
Miroslav Srnka
Production Design
Katrin Conan
Digital Colorist
Jürgen Pertak
Costume Design
Andrea Schmidt-Futterer
Editorial Jounalist
Viktor Schoner, Mechthild Albus
Myriam Hoyer (Aufzeichnung Bildregie), Kirill Petrenko (Dirigent)