Tobias Kratzer is leading the next generation of opera directors
But he didn’t want to start directing too soon. So, despite the experience from a couple of internships, he went on to study art history. He wrote a dissertation on Arcimboldo’s unknown followers and worked in a gallery and in the archive of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner in Switzerland. He only returned to opera in his mid-20s when he was admitted to the Theater Academy in Munich.
Before graduating there, he caught the attention of the opera world when, aged 28, he won the prestigious Ring Award in Graz, Austria, with a ‘sucè de scandale’.
He submitted two entries and then presented them personally under different aliases in the directing and design competition: a German and an American named Ginger Holiday – Scratches in Drag, who he said “RuPaul didn’t win. ‘” He was so smitten with Ginger that he traveled to the United States to direct a film for his competition entry, which included a scene of her watching the Harvard-Yale soccer game. In the end, he didn’t use the video, just a photo of Ginger waving a Yale flag: “One of the most expensive photos of my life,” he said.
When Ginger presented herself to the judges, they knew exactly who she was, but she still won some of the ring’s smaller awards. (That persona, Scratch said, is gone forever now; these days he’s more likely to be seen in a T-shirt and baseball cap.) However, it was the other persona that won the grand prize, which included directing the third act of Rigoletto ’ for an audience that, according to Kratzer, ‘comprised the crème de la crème of German artistic directors’.
Orders came quickly, which amused Kratz; He had some fame without a single professional production on his resume. But when he started, he took on an extensive repertoire that even seasoned directors like to trip up: “The Magic Flute”, “Der Rosenkavalier”, a trio with works by Meyerbeer, “Tannhäuser”.