Wagner Biographies

Stefan Herheim

Stefan Herheim outside the Norwegian National Opera, Oslo

Stefan Herheim outside the Norwegian National Opera, Oslo. Herheim is now director of Theater an der Wien.
Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad

Der Ring des Nibelungen at Deutsche Oper Berlin

Stefan Herheim's Ring production at Deutsche Oper Berlin was released by Naxos on DVD/Blu-ray in autumn 2022.

Stefan Herheim's Ring production at Deutsche Oper Berlin

Featuring: Nina Stemme, Clay Hilley, Iain Paterson, Brandon Jovanovich, Elisabeth Teige, Albert Pesendorfer. Berlin Deutsche Opera Orchestra, Berlin Deutsche Opera Chorus. Conductor: Donald Runnicles. Stage director: Stefan Herheim. Set designer Stefan Herheim and Silke Bauer. Costume designer: Uta Heiseke. Lighting: Ulrich Niepel.
Recorded at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, 9–21 November 2021. ‘Making Of’ documentary including interviews with Stefan Herheim, Sir Donald Runnicles and behind the scenes footage.


Der Ring des Nibelungen - Reviews, articles etc.

An der Deutschen Oper in Berlin inszeniert Stefan Herheim Wagners "Ring" als oft bizarres, nicht immer schlüssiges Riesenspektakel mit Klavier. (Wolfgang Schreiber / Süddeutsche Zeitung)

Peter Quantrill (Gramophone) on the Herheim/Runnicles Ring on DVD

Das Rheingold

„Das Spiel drum kann ich nicht sparen!“: Das Rheingold an der Deutschen Oper Berlin (Alexandra Richter, Bachtrack)

Das Rheingold: Viel Durcheinander, aber wenig Sinn (Peter Jungblut, BR Klassik)

Ring auf der Flucht (Der Freitag)

Premiere an der Deutschen Oper Berlin: Uninspiriertes Rheingold Ein bisschen Kapitalismuskritik, ein bisschen Eifersuchtsdrama, ein bisschen selbstreferentielles Theater mit Klavierauszug und Flügelhelm. Dlf-Kritiker Uwe Friedrich fehlt in Stefan Herheims Inszenierung von „Das Rheingold“ an der Deutschen Oper Berlin der Fokus. (Deutschlandfunk)

„Wusst‘ ich der Fragen Rat?“ – „Das Rheingold“ an der Deutschen Oper Berlin (Das Opernmagazin)

Stefan Herheim inszeniert „Das Rheingold“ in Berlin Der Fluch des Joker (Judith von Sternburg, Frankfurter Rundschau)

Wir spielen – Wagners „Das Rheingold“ in der Deutschen Oper Berlin (Peter P. Pachl, NMZ)

Premierenreigen in Berlin: Rheingold schlägt Goldrausch (Eleonore Büning, Neue Zürcher Zeitung)


Stefan Herheim

Die Walküre

Stefan Herheims neuer "Wagner"-Ring in Berlin: Wo ist der Lichtschalter? (Michael Stallknecht, Süddeutsche Zeitung)

Kultur24-berlin.de (Dagmar Loewe): Die WALKÜRE in der Deutschen Oper Berlin: Große Gesangsleistung, schwache Inszenierung.

Bachtrack (Sarah Schnoor): Ich packe meinen Koffer: Stefan Herheim inszeniert Full-Contact-Walküre in Berlin

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Eleonore Büning): Trotz der Pandemie beginnt die Deutsche Oper einen neuen «Ring»-Zyklus – in prächtiger Besetzung.

Die Welt (Manuel Brug): Das tut so gut. Wenn man die Augen zuhat

Frankfurter Rundschau (Judith von Sternburg): In der Wotan-Show

Leipziger Volkszeitung: Zwischen Kopfgeburt und Kindertheater: Herheims „Walküre“ feiert Premiere in Berlin

The New York Times: Full-Scale Wagner Returns to Europe With a Refugee-Theme ‘Walküre’ Delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, Stefan Herheim’s “Ring” cycle, rumored for a future Met Opera season, gets underway in Berlin.

Conceptual Baggage (mundoclasico.com)

Susanne Øglænd: Transcendental hjemløshet og kofferter i Berlin (in Norwegian)


For Stefan Herheim’s Berlin Siegfried ‘The play’s the thing’ as Clay Hilley impresses in the title role (Jim Pritchard, Seen and Heard International)

Wagner mit Feinripp-Fetisch
“Und die Regie? Stefan Herheim tut alles, um ein Maximum an Distanz zur Geschichte aufzubauen. Seine Idee: Alle spielen nur, als würden sie spielen, umgeben von Flüchtlingen und von Kofferbergen, die das Unbehauste symbolisieren. Die Sänger schauen immer wieder in die Partituren, die sie mit sich tragen, sie setzen sich an einen Flügel in der Mitte und markieren dort die Begleitung. So wechseln die Rollen, nichts ist sicher, alles schwankt, oft mit starken Bildern wie beim Drachenkampf. Das Viech hat riesige rollende Augen in Videoprojektionen und besteht sonst aus gigantischen Trompeten, denen der Wurmriese entsteigt.” (BR-Klassik, Maria Ossowski)

Peter Uehling (Berliner Zeitung): “Mit Spielfreude dirigiert und inszeniert: Der dritte Teil von Wagners „Ring“ in der musikalischen Leitung von Donald Runnicles und der Regie von Stefan Herheim”

Ein heiteres Heldenepos: Stefan Herheims Siegfried an der Deutschen Oper Berlin (Alexandra Richter, Bachtrack)

Siegfried at Deutsche Oper Berlin — the Brechtian detachment wears thin (Shirley Apthorp / Financial Times)

Wagners «Ring» zurück in Berlin: Ovationen in Deutscher Oper: “Herheim spielt mit Bildern, Analogien, optischen Zitaten. Dafür setzt sein Team Licht und Bühneneffekte immer wieder zu traumschönen Szenerien zusammen.” (dpa)


Der Anfang vom Ende: Götterdämmerung an der Deutschen Oper Berlin (Alexandra Richter, Bachtrack)

Zeitgemäße Ästhetik, Pathos und Parodie: Unser Autor ergötzt sich an Stefan Herheims „Götterdämmerung“ (Wolfgang Herles, Der Freitag)

Deutsche Oper Berlin’s Götterdämmerung — a slowly unfolding disaster. Much of the singing is good, but this production of Wagner’s opera has little else to commend it (Shirley Apthorp, Financial Times)


Stefan Herheim


• Stefan Herheim interview about Parsifal: "The Theatre is my Temple"

• Stefan Herheim on working with Daniele Gatti, the choice of tempi and the staging of preludes

• An honour to take part - Stefan Herheim on working at the Bayreuth Festival



Stefan Herheim at the Norwegian National Opera, Oslo.
Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad



Herheim works as professor of opera directing at the Academy of Opera, Oslo National Academy of the Arts.


Stefan Herheim: Parsifal - Selected Reviews and Comments

  • Abendzeitung
  • Agence-France Presse
  • Associated Press (2009): More impressive is the thread Herheim weaves — a century of German history replete with back-projected footage of the two world wars, smoking ruins left by the fall of the Third Reich, on-stage depictions of war wounded, fleeing Jews and — toward the end — Germany as a phoenix rising from the ashes. The links are clear but effective. Sin begets misery in the knight-priest kingdom, and pulls the country into the vortex of destruction that ends only with the redemption wrought by Parsifal. Old and new are joined, and the result is an opera that is true to its roots but relates as well on the contemporary level.
  • Bayreischer Rundfunk (audio)
  • Berliner Zeitung
  • Bloomberg: The richness and psychological depth of Herheim's images and the seamless musicality with which he and his team have knitted them together add up to an evening of breathtaking impact.
  • Boulezian blog: Daniele Gatti’s reading of the score rarely drew attention to itself but contributed to the unfolding dramas in exemplary fashion. […] The richness of the Bayreuth orchestra was ever apparent, but never more so than when it finally had our full attention, during the unstaged Prelude to Act III. That evocation of hard-won passing of time can rarely have seemed more apt than in the circumstances of this production. The gradual unfolding of the score’s phrases and paragraphs was faultless. Each act was possessed both of its own character and of an array of variegation and cross-reference. And the bells sounded better than I can recall hearing them anywhere (except of course on the most venerable of old Bayreuth recordings).
  • Graham Bruce (The Wagner Society in Queensland): Herheim conceived PARSIFAL as a child's dream, with all of the Freudian implications that suggests. Now if that description suggests that this was yet another production which rode rough-shod over the text and music, I must assure my readers that conceptually, visually and musically, this was an outstanding success; indeed it's been some time since goose-bumps arose on my skin as they did during this performance.
  • Corriere della Sera
  • Crescendo
  • Le Figaro: Un Parsifal politiquement correct
  • Financial Times: The performance works on so many levels that you emerge challenged and stimulated: Bayreuth at its best.
  • Frankfurter Allgemeine
  • The Guardian: Herheim's production continually poses the direct question of whether Wagner's own Bayreuth legacy - like the decaying world of the Grail knights in Parsifal - can ever be morally cleansed. In pursuit of an answer, Herheim takes us on a formidably ambitious journey through a dazzlingly inventive theatrical deconstruction of Parsifal, of German history, of Wagner and, above all, of the way they are woven together in Bayreuth itself.
  • International Herald Tribune: The staging is grandiose, visually sensual, and scenically enthralling. The audience's attention rarely waned during the seven-hour performance, despite the slow, deliberate pace of the score as conducted by Italian Daniele Gatti. […] Herheim makes use of every modern stage technique available to him, deploying an endless succession of technological fireworks and visual provocations.
  • Kurier
  • Merkur-Online
  • Mostly Opera: […] myriads of ideas, sufficient for several new Parsifal productions on an over-stuffed stage, downstaging both singers and music and ultimately creating confusion as opposed to enlightenment.
  • New York Times: In the end, it is moving. Directors get away with half-baked ingenuities because opera plots already require suspended judgment — and because of the music. Under Daniele Gatti’s baton, the score unwinds in grave and luxurious fashion. The Bayreuth chorus is peerless, as always. Christopher Ventris, as an ardent Parsifal; Detlef Roth, the touching Amfortas; and Kwangchul Youn, a brooding Gurnemanz, make for unexpected stars. Mihoko Fujimura, notwithstanding the straining in her upper reaches, is the desperate, heartbreaking Kundry. If someone at Bayreuth could sift through Mr. Herheim’s bounty of ideas, this might yet become a great production.
  • rp-online.de
  • Der Spiegel
  • The Stage (Penelope Turing: Herheim is tempted by adding some ‘ideas’, but emerges triumphant because this is simply a great musical performance.)
  • Der Standard
  • Süddeutsche Zeitung
  • Tagesspiegel
  • Telegraph (Rupert Christiansen, 2009): I caught the first revival of the Norwegian director Stefan Herheim's production of Parsifal. Its first two acts are among the most beautiful and complex things that I have ever seen on a stage, and I can scarcely describe their import. [...] What further distinguishes Herheim's direction is its exquisitely sensitive musicality. The endlessly shifting and meticulously choreographed imagery flows in and out of the river of Wagner's score, as it progresses from the Bismarck era to Adenauer's reconstruction, through two world wars and the Weimar Republic, showing idealism turning to militarism and religious belief to political fanaticism.
  • The Wagner Journal (Barry Millington): This is one of the finest stagings of the work ever seen at Bayreuth, or anywhere else. While undeniably complex, the dramaturgy is strong, clear and focused. The stagecraft, moreover, is superb. (Review available in the printed edition.)
  • Die Welt
  • Westdutsche Allgemeine Zeitung: Herheims Parsifal ist vielschichtig, aber dabei nicht beliebig. Er hält eine kluge Balance zwischen Dokumentation und Traumkosmos. Und der Norweger ist ein Regisseur von großer Musikalität: Gesten und Blicke, Gänge und Verwandlungen korrespondieren punktgenau mit Wagners Musik.
  • "I have noticed a tendency to the (historically) excessive since 2008 in the production on the Green Hill by Stefan Herheim, Schlingensief’s successor as director of Parsifal: as if these directors knew what wealth Wagner had left in his last opera but did not feel able to control it and make it fertile. I think we should not be too complicated, nor always think of history before and after Wagner and show it on stage. As Lars von Trier said: if we want Wagner, then Wagner is what we want." Christian Thielemann. As quoted in Christian Thielemann: My Life with Wagner (p. 249). Orion. Kindle Edition.


Scandinavian reviews



Klingsor, Herheim Parsifal

A different Klingsor. Stefan Herheim directs Parsifal at Bayreuth.
Photo: Enrico Nawrath/Bayreuther Festspiele



Stefan Herheim: La Boheme (Oslo) - Selected Reviews


Stefan Herheim's Wagner productions

  • Wagner: Die Walküre, premiere 2020 Deutsche Oper, Berlin
  • Wagner: Das Rheingold, premiere 2021 Deutsche Oper, Berlin
  • Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Salzburg/Bastille co-production, 2013)
  • Wagner: Tannhäuser (The Norwegian National Opera, Oslo, premiere March 2010)
  • Wagner: Lohengrin (Berlin: Deutsche Staatsoper).
  • Wagner: Parsifal (Bayreuther Festspiele), premiere 2008
  • Wagner: Das Rheingold (Riga: Latvian National Opera/Bergen Festival, 2006)
  • Wagner: Tannhäuser (Landestheater Linz)

As far as we know, there are no plans for a Dutchman or Tristan yet.



Selected Productions

  • Der Ring des Nibelungen (Deutsche Oper Berlin)
  • Benjamin Britten: Peter Grimes (Bayreische Staatsoper, München)
  • Gioachino Rossini: La Cenerentola, ossia La bontà in trionfo (The Norwegian National Opera/Opéra de Lyon, 2017)
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro (Staatsoper Hamburg, 2015)
  • Jacques Offenbach: Hoffmanns Erzählungen (Bregenzer Festspiele, 2015)
  • Verdi: Les Vêpres siciliennes (The Sicilian Vespers) (London, Royal Opera House 2013)
  • Richard Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Salzburg/Bastille co-production, 2013)
  • Richard Strauss: Salome (Oslo May 2013, co-production with Salzburger Osterfestspiele 2011). Simon Rattle / Berliner Philharmoniker / Emily Magee
  • G. Puccini: Manon Lescaut (Oper Graz: October 2012 / Dresden March 2013)
  • Georges Bizet: Carmen (Graz, 2012)
  • G.F. Händel: Xerxes (Komische Oper, Berlin: May 2012. Also at Bergen International Festival)

Stefan Herheim: La Boheme, Oslo

  • G. Puccini: La Boheme (Norwegian National Opera, Oslo: January 2012)
  • Alban Berg: Lulu: Royal Opera Copenhagen (October 2010) Norwegian National Opera Oslo (February 2011), Semperoper Dresden (February 2012)
  • Richard Strauss: Salome (Salzburger Osterfestspiele 2011 / Oslo May 2013). Simon Rattle / Berliner Philharmoniker / Emily Magee
  • P. Tchaikovsky: Eugen Onegin (De Nederlandse Opera, Amsterdam: June 2011)
  • R. Wagner: Tannhäuser (Oslo: Norwegian National Opera, Oslo, March 2010)
  • A. Dvorak: Rusalka (Oper Graz, December 2009, Dresden 2012)
  • R. Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier (Stuttgart: Staatsoper, premiere 1 November 2009)
  • R. Wagner: Lohengrin (Berlin: Deutsche Staatsoper, 2009)
  • A. Dvorak: Rusalka (Bruxelles: Theatre de la Monnaie/de Munt, 2008, Teatre del Liceu - Teatro del Liceo 2012/2013)
  • R. Wagner: Parsifal (Bayreuther Festspiele, premiere 2008)
  • W.A. Mozart: Don Giovanni (Essen: Aalto-Theater, 2007, 2008, 2009)
  • G. Bizet: Carmen (Oper Graz, 2006)
  • R. Wagner: Das Rheingold (Riga: Latvian National Opera/Bergen Festival, 2006)
  • G. Verdi: La forza del destino (Berlin: Deutsche Staatsoper, 2005, 2006, 2007)
  • G.F. Händel: Giulio Cesare (Oslo: Norwegian National Opera, 2005, 2007)
  • G. Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Wiener Volksoper, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008)
  • G. Verdi: Don Carlo (Landestheater Linz, 2003)
  • W.A. Mozart: Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Salzburger Festspiele, 2003, 2004, 2006)
  • V. Bellini: I Puritani (Essen: Aalto Theater, 2003, 2009)
  • W.A. Mozart: Così fan tutte (Stockholm: Folkoperan, 2002)
  • A. Werner: Marlowe: Der Jude von Malta (Münchener Biennale, 2002)
  • R. Wagner: Tannhäuser (Landestheater Linz, 2001)
  • G. Verdi: Falstaff (Staatstheater Oldenburg, 2001)
  • W.A. Mozart: Così fan tutte (Estonia: Vanemuine Theater, 2000)
  • W.A. Mozart: Die Zauberflöte (Staatstheater Oldenburg, 2000)




Selected Biographies