Hanover State Opera separates from Ballet Director Marco Goecke by mutual agreement and with immediate effect


A trusting cooperation with Marco Goecke in a management position is inconceivable for the Hanover State Opera after the assault on journalist Wiebke Hüster. Marco Goecke's irresponsible actions have deeply unsettled the audience, irritated the public, violated all the principles of the house and massively damaged the reputation of the Hanover State Opera. Marco Goecke has also admitted this to the management of the Lower Saxony State Theatre. Both parties have decided by mutual agreement to terminate his contract as ballet director with immediate effect.


The Hanover State Opera makes a distinction between the employed ballet director and the creative choreographer Marco Goecke, whom it still holds in high artistic esteem and whose work it will not remove from the repertoire. His works have no connection with the events and will remain in the repertoire of the Staatsballett. This applies not only to the current pieces, but also to the pieces created for the company of the house that Marco Goecke has formed. No new ballet by Marco Goecke was or is planned for the next season, but his works will be on the repertoire as revivals.


Before a decision is made about a long-term successor, the deputy ballet director Christian Blossfeld will take over the direction of the company. We have agreed to work with all the dancers of the Staatsballett within the framework of their contracts until at least summer 2024. They will be securely employed at the Hanover State Opera until then.


Opera Director Laura Berman says: ‘First of all, I would like to formally apologize to Wiebke Hüster. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must feel like to be humiliated like that in public.


‘The Hanover State Opera, my colleagues and I have a relationship with Marco Goecke on three different levels: There is the choreographer and artist Marco Goecke, whom I was able to win for Hanover in 2019. There is the manager Marco Goecke, who is not only responsible in a management position on an artistic level, but also as a department head for the entire ballet company and has always taken this responsibility seriously. And then there is the man Marco Goecke, whom we have all come to know and appreciate as a compassionate, considerate, humorous, occasionally very vulnerable person. A person who has also worked through his vulnerability artistically, for example in his work Thin Skin. A person with whom we have worked collegially, constructively and without any form of aggression on his part. That’s why his behavior disturbed us all the more.


‘In view of the sometimes drastic demands from parts of the media and the public, it was a great challenge for me as artistic director and direct superior to find a solution to this situation that was justifiable from a legal, human and artistic point of view between these different levels. We took the time to find this solution and to talk to the administrative management and the works council of the Lower Saxony State Theater and our top employer, the state of Lower Saxony, and last but not least with Marco Goecke. In order to make a professional decision about a separation, a personal conversation is required. It was also essential for us to have discussions with the ballet ensemble and not suddenly present the dancers with a fait accompli. They are all here in Hanover because of Marco Goecke. The ensemble is a creation by Marco Goecke, perhaps one of his most important given the restrictions on working conditions during the pandemic. And it is a wonderful ensemble, which also proved its excellence at the premiere last Saturday in very different choreographic styles. The Staatsoper Hannover, together with the excellent team of the Staatsballett, would like to preserve and protect this special group of artists.


‘I think it’s important and right that we took this time. It was clear to us very early on that ballet director Marco Goecke was no longer acceptable as a manager due to his misconduct. A trusting cooperation is currently difficult to imagine for the Hanover State Opera as well as for me personally. This thoughtless attack on the journalist and the person Wiebke Hüster violated too many principles of the State Theater, massively damaged the reputation of the house and last but not least has criminal consequences. Marco Goecke can understand that too. Therefore, in a detailed personal conversation, we agreed to terminate his contract as ballet director by mutual consent and with immediate effect.


‘However, we still appreciate the choreographer Marco Goecke and will keep his works in the repertoire. This applies not only to the running pieces, but also to the pieces that were created especially for the Staatsballett Hannover, such as B. his masterpiece The Lover. We do not believe that an artist’s work should be completely condemned for a single act of ill-considered, however disgusting. The choreographies are never the work of just one person, they are brought to life in every performance by an ensemble and many people backstage.


‘We are all concerned about Marco Goecke as a person, but I am particularly concerned as his direct superior and friend. Of course we know the interviews he gave. We were surprised at their content. But they only show one side of him. Yesterday I met a Marco Goecke in a personal conversation who was devastated. We are now in contact with him and hope that we can help him through this time despite this break.


‘Finally, I would like to address two other topics that concern me as artistic director. Criticism is important for the creation and further development of art, because it reflects the artist, what art does to people, what emotions, what thoughts are evoked. In today’s society there is less and less serious interest in professional, differentiated reflection on art. Good, responsible criticism is at risk because polarizing statements attract more attention and more clicks. I believe we are all called upon to solve these problems.


‘As artistic director, I also think about how I can protect artists. The criticism that an artist is exposed to today is not only the professional criticism in the established media. At a time when everyone can and is allowed to express their opinion on a wide variety of channels – partly anonymously and often without any sense of responsibility – a pressure is built up that an individual can hardly bear. Of course, this does not excuse or justify abuse of any kind.


‘We will still need time to fully process what has happened. That can only happen if we work together and we hope that the audience will also be by our side.’