Nikolaus Habjan, born in Graz in 1987, is one of the most versatile and sought-after (musical) theatre directors of his generation. Winner of no less than three Nestroy Awards, he is renowned not merely as a director, but also as an actor and puppeteer, singer and art whistler, transcending genre boundaries with ease.
In season 2022/23, Nikolaus Habjan will direct new productions at the Dortmund Opera (Magic Flute), the Theater an der Wien (La Périchole) or the Semperoper Dresden (L'Orfeo), among others. As a puppeteer and art whistler, he will perform at renowned venues such as the Berlin State Opera, the Vienna Musikverein and Konzerthaus or the Bregenz Festival.
At the age of only 15, he began exploring puppet theatre, perfecting the use of hand puppets with mobile mouths during studies with Neville Tranter. To this day, he regularly uses this style of puppet in his productions. After studying musical theatre directing in Vienna, his first puppet theatre productions were shown at the Schubert Theater in Vienna, with his work F. Zawrel – erbbiologisch und sozial minderwertig earning him his first Nestroy Award in 2012.
Nikolaus Habjan and his productions have been invited to numerous renowned theatres in Austria and abroad, including Munich’s Residenztheater, the Bavarian State Opera, Vienna's Burgtheater and Theater an der Wien as well as Zurich’s Schauspielhaus. In 2019 The New York Times published a review in its print edition praising Habjan’s work Böhm at the Graz Theatre as a “startlingly… elaborate, virtuosic romp”. During the following 2019/20 season he was appointed “Director in residence” at the Theater an der Wien, where he staged Oberon, Gounod’s Faust and in 2020 Richard Strauss’ Salome, which was nominated in 2021 for the Austrian Musical Theatre Prize. In July 2021 he directed Rheingold – immer noch Loge, an opera by Gordon Kampe, at the Bayreuth Festival, before dedicating himself to Puccini’s Tosca at the Dortmund Opera, where he has been one of the ensemble directors since 2020. This production premiered in the autumn of 2021.
In addition to his intense directing schedule, Nikolaus Habjan is an experienced and versatile actor and puppeteer, for example in his celebrated programmes with Musicbanda Franui from Eastern Tyrol, which have taken him to most major concert stages in the German-language region. He also has a passion for another, nearly forgotten artistic genre: art whistling. Hailed as “Pavarotti and Bartoli in one person” (AZ), he has specialized in virtuoso coloratura arias, which he regularly performs to acclaim at such venues as Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie, Vienna’s Konzerthaus, Berlin's State Opera or the Bregenz Festival.
2022 | 2023
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Nikolaus Habjan, art whistler | emcee
Ines Schüttengruber, cembalo | piano
„Doch bin ich nirgend, ach! zu Haus“
Nikolaus Habjan, Puppeteer
Music by Franui after Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms and Gustav Mahler
Texts by Robert Walser and Jürg Amann
After the first successful collaboration of the Musicbanda Franui with the puppeteer Nikolaus Habjan in the setting of Shakespeare's sonnets at the Burgtheater in Vienna, the production is now on show: The play "Doch bin ich nirgend, ach! zu Haus" is about the motif of the wanderer, which has preoccupied mankind since time immemorial.