Kupfer, Harry, German opera director and administrator; b. Berlin, Aug. 12, 1935. He was trained at the Hans Otto Theaterhochschule in Leipzig. In 1958 he launched his career as an opera director with his staging of RusalL• at the Halle Landestheater. After holding the position of Oberspielleiter at the Stralsund Theater der Werf Stadt (1958–62), he was senior resident producer at the Karl-Marx-Stadt Städtische Theater (1962–66). From 1966 to 1972 he was opera director at the Weimar Nationaltheater, and from 1967 to 1972 he was on the faculty of the Franz Liszt Hochschule für Musik in Weimar. He was opera director and chief producer at the Dresden State Opera from 1972 to 1981, where he established himself as one of the leading opera directors of his day through the staging of notable productions of both traditional and contemporary works. In 1978 he garnered acclaim with his thought-provoking staging of Der fliegender Holländer at the Bayreuth Festival. He was the chief producer at the Berlin Komische Oper from 1981 to 1994. In 1994 he became opera director at the Komische Oper and also artistic advisor to the Intendant of the Berlin State Opera. He collaborated with Penderecki in preparing the libretto for Die schwarze Maske (Salzburg Festival, Aug. 15, 1986). In 1988 he staged a compelling Ring cycle at the Bayreuth Festival and at the Berlin State Opera in 1995. His productions have also been mounted at the Hamburg State Opera, the Vienna State Opera, and at London’s Covent Garden. In his most inspired productions, Kupfer fuses the finest elements of the traditional music theater experience with all that is best in contemporary stage direction.
D. Kranz, ’Ich muss Oper machen’: Der Regisseur H. K. (Berlin, 1988); M. Lewin, H K. (Vienna and Zürich, 1988); R. Lummer, Regie im Theater: H. K. (Frankfurt am Main, 1989).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire