August 2018

G. F. Handel

In February 2019, Max Emanuel Cencic will bring onto stage a new production of Handel’s opera Xerxes. It is going to be a boulevard comedy situated in high society circles – with two Baroque stars as rivals!

King Xerxes of Persia is excentric – he sings about a tree and loves women. He is acceptably engaged, yet desires his brother’s mistress. The philosophical tranquility of his declaration of love to a sycamore tree – one of Handel’s most beautiful arias – soon gives way to an all-out cat fight, which almost four hours later leaves everything in pieces. The superficial glitter world of Las Vegas serves as environment for the two prominent countertenors Max Emanuel Cencic and Franco Fagioli to express the characters of the competing brothers. Only there, the absurd intrigues, elaborately contemplated and staged by four narcissists in their desperate struggle for love and fame, can still be taken seriously. An arc spans from Baroque musical tradition to our time. Handel remains present.

World famous singing star and Handel expert Max Emanuel Cencic, most recently acclaimed for his Arminio at the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, will, at the International Handel Festival, again function in two roles, director and performer. He will, for the first time, work with Rifail Ajdarpasic who created the stage design for a Carmen which was distinguished as the Best New Production of the Year, in 2017 in France.

stage direction: Max Emanuel Cencic
stage concept/design: Rifail Ajdarpasic
costume design: Sarah Rolke
musical direction: George Petrou
choir direction: Marius Zachmann
dramaturgy: Boris Kehrmann

(Original text: Staatstheater Karlsruhe,, translated from German)



directed by Max Emanuel Cencic:

February 15 – 26, 2019:
Karlsruhe (DE)
(5 performances)

February 21 – 28, 2020:
Karlsruhe (DE)
(4 performances)



Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, February 2019



Stage Direction