The "Junge Oper" is part of the Staatsoper Stuttgart. Since the beginning of the Opera Director Albrecht Puhlmann's tenure in 2006/07 the permanent staff behind the "Junge Oper" consists of the Artistic Manager Barbara Tacchini, one conductor and musical manager as well as an educationalist specialising in music theatre. The intention of the "Junge Oper" is to encourage creativity and cultural education in children and young people by leading them towards the concept of music theatre in a playful way. The "Junge Oper" annually stages two to three opera productions especially targeted at children and young people of various differing age groups. The performances usually take place on the stage of the smaller "Kammertheater". The season 2006/07, however, saw for the first time the staging of a "Junge Oper" production on the big stage of the Opera House.
The concept of the "Junge Oper" was initiated in 1995 by the then opera director Klaus Zehelein together with the educationalist Markus Kosuch. The new concept was originally named "a space to experience opera". From the early beginnings of enabling interested school classes to experience a performance of the State Opera's repertory, the idea behind the "Junge Oper" developed further into actively producing opera for as well as with the help of young people. With the staging of world premieres and the investigation of a variety of different methodical approaches, the "Junge Oper" der Staatsoper Stuttgart has been playing an ever increasing part in shaping the landscape of cultural education in and around Stuttgart since 1998.
The "Junge Oper" includes young people in its productions, mostly as members of the choir, thereby offering students from the regional universities as well as young singers and musicians a professional platform to gather first-hand experience on-stage or with an orchestra, respectively. At the same time, members of the opera ensemble participate with the aim to establish a dialogue between experienced professional singers, young artists and lay-people – a dialogue as chance to investigate and to search for new ways of aesthetic expression by making use of contemporary topics that young people are interested in.
Since the beginning of the directorship of Albrecht Puhlmann the range of offers by the "Junge Oper" has been expanded: now there are concerts for the young audience, children and youth clubs with workshop productions of their own, family workshops and so-called mobile productions – small productions staged directly in the classroom. The pedagogical support and attendance given is not only available for productions by the "Junge Oper", however, but also applies to the repertory of the Opera House. In meetings before and after a visit to the opera, school classes are enabled and encouraged to find better access to opera in general via scenic and musical improvisations and regular attendance at the rehearsal process, via meetings with the participating artists and guided tours behind the stage. The "Junge Oper" also offers advice and consultation for the involved teachers with the help of workshops, educational training and practical ideas for getting their respective classes prepared for in advance.
Still valid and practiced regularly is the method to approach the concept of opera by a form of scenic interpretation – a method where a better understanding of the opera characters and their respective conflicts can be achieved by actively experiencing conflicting situations in small improvisations. That approach has to a great extent been developed by the Staatsoper Stuttgart, and has until now been extended by another level or method of expression "Klangszenenspiel"– a method based mostly on sounds and instruments. Barbara Tacchini, the present Artistic Manager and dramaturg, has developed that second method: the participants use basic musical instruments to improvise and enact their scenes. In doing so they are encouraged to find individual ways of expressing moods, emotions, differing characters and conflicts.
The range of offers has been complimented by yet another project in 2005/06 – the "IMPULS MusikTheaterTanz". With that new project the "Junge Oper" contacts comprehensive schools in and around Stuttgart directly, whose teachers and students face special challenges due to the number of students that come from diverse cultural, lingual, social and educational backgrounds. In more than 40 school lessons, spread over a period of two months, the experienced staff of the "Junge Oper" is dedicated to work with selected school classes. The students thereby experience music theatre as a further medium of expression by developing theatrical scenes which are then in the end presented to their class mates and families in a special workshop performance. The overall goal is to offer these students a platform where each of them can develop his or her particular talent. Another goal is to develop further assertiveness, the ability to concentrate and emotional competence. The project highlights are – besides their own performance – the visit to the rehearsals and to the performance of one of the "Junge Oper" productions.
Thanks to the financial support by the "Freunde und Förderer der Staatstheater Stuttgart e.V." as well as the "Robert Bosch Stiftung", the "Junge Oper" was able so far to continue and to document these workshops.