Hans Neuenfels

Hans Neuenfels

German writer, poet, film producer, theater and opera director, libretto author
Date of Birth: 31.05.1941
Country: Germany

  1. Biography of Hans Neuenfels
  2. Career
  3. Controversial Works
  4. Controversial Productions

Biography of Hans Neuenfels

Hans Neuenfels is a German writer, poet, film producer, theater and opera director, and librettist. He was born on May 31, 1941 in Krefeld, Germany.

Hans Neuenfels


In the 1960s, Neuenfels attended the Max Reinhardt Seminar. By the 1970s, he had become one of the leading directors in Germany. He was invited to work in renowned theaters such as the Burgtheater and had the opportunity to collaborate with famous actors including Klaus Maria Brandauer, Bernhard Minetti, and Anne Bennent.

Hans Neuenfels

Controversial Works

Neuenfels' works have often received conflicting evaluations. His opera productions have been the cause of heated discussions and scandals. For instance, his staging of Verdi's opera 'Aida' in 1980, where the Ethiopian slave was replaced with a modern cleaning lady, and Johann Strauss' operetta 'Die Fledermaus' sparked numerous negative comments and reviews.

Neuenfels was criticized for his explicit scenes in his productions. Soprano Karita Mattila criticized his staging of Mozart's opera 'Così fan tutte,' where giant insects and videos with explicit scenes in the background distracted the audience from the singers. Furthermore, during the aria of Fiordiligi, Mattila had to appear on stage leading men dressed in leather and chains, moving like dogs. She described it as her worst stage experience and accused Neuenfels of crossing all boundaries.

Controversial Productions

In 2003, the German Opera in Berlin staged Neuenfels' production of Mozart's opera 'Idomeneo, King of Crete.' In the epilogue, Idomeneo stumbled across the stage holding the severed heads of Neptune, Jesus, Buddha, and the Prophet Muhammad. The police warned the administration that such a staging could be dangerous, and the scheduled performances were canceled. This led to protests and objections, claiming that the theater was engaging in self-censorship. Eventually, the director announced that the performances would still take place.

In 2010, Neuenfels made his debut at the Bayreuth Festival with a production of Wagner's opera 'Lohengrin.' The action took place in a laboratory, and the chorus was dressed as laboratory rats. The premiere on July 25, 2010 received mixed reactions, ranging from enthusiastic applause to angry booing. According to 'Der Spiegel' magazine, Neuenfels simply smiled after the performance and shrugged his shoulders during the curtain call for an encore.