San Francisco Opera continues Fall Season with Wagner’s ‘Lohengrin’

Act III of Wagner’s ‘Lohengrin’
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

New to San Francisco Opera, David Alden’s production of Wagner’s Lohengrin is onstage at the War Memorial Opera House, starring tenor Simon O’Neill as the mysterious knight Lohengrin. Soprano Julie Adams is Elsa, the princess of Brabant, wrongly accused of a wicked crime, and baritone Brian Mulligan is Telramund – both making role debuts. Mezzo-soprano Judit Kutasi takes the role of Ortrud, making her American debut as the scheming wife of Telramund, and that of King Heinrich is sung by Kristinn Sigmundsson. The conductor is Eun Sun Kim, Music Director of San Francisco Opera, leading this production of Lohengrin for the first time.
 
Wagner wrote Lohengrin – libretto and music – between 1848 and 1850. It was based on an old German legend of Lohengrin, Son of Parsifal, which featured in Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival (written around 1210) and the novel Lohengrin written by Nouhuwius, a follower of von Eschenbach.

Julie Adams as Elsa in Wagner’s ‘Lohengrin’
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

The story revolves around Elsa, the princess of Brabant, who faced charges of murder regarding the disappearance of her brother, heir to the duchy of Brabant. Her savior, a mysterious knight who arrives to defend her, marries Elsa on condition that she never ask his name nor his origin. Later, Elsa forgets this promise, and he leaves her, never to return.

Lohengrin – described as a romantic opera in three acts – was premiered in Weimar on August 28th, 1850, a performance supervised by Franz Liszt. Wagner was absent from the premiere, as he’d been forced to flee Germany because of his revolutionary sympathies, however Lohengrin, with its epic score, was one of his earliest triumphs.

New Zealand-born Simon O’Neill is known for his performances of Wagnerian heroes such as Lohengrin, Siegmund, Siegfried, Tristan and Parsifal. He is a graduate of the Merola Opera Program, and made his San Francisco Opera debut in 2012 as Mao Tse-Tung in the Company premiere of John Adams’ Nixon in China. The Houston Chronicle wrote: “O’Neill’s golden tenor, with its easeful command and sweetness of tone, projects Lohengrin’s superhuman nobility”, and reviewing a concert performance of Verdi’s Otello with Sir Colin Davis and the LSO, the Telegraph described him as “the best heroic tenor to emerge over the last decade”.

Simon O’Neill as Lohengrin and Julie Adams as Elsa in Wagner’s ‘Lohengrin’
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Former San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow, Julie Adams was praised by The New York Times for her voice that is “rich, full and slightly earthy in an expressive way”. She has appeared as Mimì in Puccini’s La bohème for San Francisco Opera, and as Freia and Gerhilde in the Company’s 2018 performances of Wagner’s Ring cycle. More recently she was praised for her performance as Elisabeth in Wagner’s Tannhäuser at Wuppertal Opera, which Die Deutsche Bühne described as “vocally brilliant, sensitive and expressive”.

Judit Kutasi as Ortrud and Julie Adams as Elsa in Wagner’s ‘Lohengrin’
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Romanian-Hungarian mezzo-soprano Judit Kutasi makes her American debut – and role debut – as Ortrud. This season, she will make several more major debuts, including the role of Preziosilla in Verdi’s La forza del destino at the Metropolitan Opera. Ms Kutasi makes her house debut at the Royal Danish Opera in Copenhagen with Verdi’s Requiem, and appears for the first time with the Salzburg Easter Festival performing the same masterpiece.

Brian Mulligan as Telramund, Kristinn Sigmundsson as King Heinrich, and Simon O’Neill as Lohengrin in Wagner’s ‘Lohengrin’
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Brian Mulligan – with a “voice that is rich, secure and really really big” according to the New York Times – makes his role debut as Telramund, Ortrud’s husband. Having made his San Francisco Opera debut in 2008, he has been a frequent collaborator with the Company. Highlights of the current season include his role and house debuts as Barak in Die Frau ohne Schatten at the Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse, and at Teatro Regio di Torino in the title role of Der fliegende Holländer.

Kristinn Sigmundsson as King Heinrich and Julie Adams as Elsa in Wagner’s ‘Lohengrin’
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

This year, Icelandic bass Kristinn Sigmundsson has appeared as Fasholt in Wagner’s Das Rheingold at Atlanta Opera and as Bartolo in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro at Los Angeles Opera. His collaboration with San Francisco Opera goes back to 2019 and his appearance as the Water Gnome in Dvořák’s Rusalka, and he looks forward to appearances in a double bill of W G Still’s Highway 1, USA, and von Zemlinsky’s Die Zwerg at Los Angeles Opera.

Thomas Lehman as the Herald in Wagner’s ‘Lohengrin’
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Also in the cast is baritone Thomas Lehman as the Herald, making his first appearance with San Francisco Opera.

David Alden is one of the most influential opera directors today, having won two Olivier Awards and the South Bank Show Award, as well as the Bavarian Theatre Prize for Individual Artistic Achievement to mark his long-time relationship with the Bavarian State Opera. He has brought this version of Lohengrin forward from medieval Germany to a mid-twentieth-century European state at war.

Judit Kutasi as Ortrud, Simon O’Neill as Lohengrin, and Julie Adams as Elsa in Wagner’s ‘Lohengrin’
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

A co-production with the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and Opera Vlaanderen, this production of Lohengrin was premiered at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden on April 30, 2018, following which the Express wrote: “ Altogether, this was perhaps as perfect an example of opera at its best as I have ever seen”.

The set designer is Paul Steinberg, costumes are by Gideon Davey, the original lighting designer was Adam Silverman and the production will be relit in San Francisco by Simon Bennison. The projection designer is Tal Rosner and choreography is by Maxine Braham.
 
Eun Sun Kim leads the soloists, San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus (Director John Keene) in performances of Wagner’s Lohengrin until November 1st. The opera is sung in German with English supertitles.
 
 San Francisco Opera offers livestreams for each of its productions during the 2023–24 Season. The Saturday, October 21 performance of Lohengrin will be livestreamed at 7.00 pm PT. The performance will also be available to watch on demand for 48 hours beginning on Sunday, October 22 at 10.00 am PT. Tickets for the livestream and limited on-demand viewing are $27.50. For tickets and more information about livestreams, visit sfopera.com/digital.
 
 

Information sourced from:

 San Francisco Opera program notes 

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Lohengrin-German-legendary-figure

https://www.opera-online.com/en/articles/lohengrin-metaphor-of-the-artist

Artists’ websites

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Nice Ballet stages Cannito’s ‘Marco Polo’

Poster courtesy Nice Ballet

This month Nice Ballet stages Marco PoloLuciano Cannito’s vibrant interpretation of the relationship which developed between emperor Kublai Khan and the Venetian explorer Marco Polo. Commissioned by the Company’s Artistic Director Eric Vu An, and inspired by the 1972 novel Invisible Cities by Italian writer Italo Calvino, the ballet is set to music by Francis Poulenc, edited by Marco Schiavoni.

A fascinating and exhilarating work, it explores the conflict in the relationship between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan. Polo is invited to the palace of Kublai Khan, where he marvels at the diversity of Kublai Khan’s cities, and the emperor is impressed by Polo’s travels – each man holding the other in a degree of awe.

Initially, Kublai Khan views Marco Polo as more of a captive than a guest, but after some time, warms to the traveller and begins to trust his advice, however the relationship inevitably evolves into a confrontation between the two. Gradually, their meetings become more and more acrimonious, because when the emperor looks at the souvenirs which Polo has gathered from around the world, he is reminded of his own limitations. Ultimately, Polo escapes from the palace, and the emperor is left examining and brooding over the contents of Polo’s travel bag once more.

In actuality, Marco Polo is considered to be the most famous Western traveler to have journeyed on the Silk Road. He began his journey to China as a young merchant in 1271, and during the 24 years of his travels, he became the confidante of Kublai Khan, founder of China’s Yuan Dynasty. His adventures and rapport with the emperor are told in his book The Travels of Marco Polo, and although other Europeans – his father and his uncle included – had travelled throughout the East, Marco Polo attained fame because of the stories told in his book.

To date, multi-award-winning director and choreographer, Luciano Cannito, has produced more than 45 ballets, three musicals, directed five plays, four video clips, and several works for the Italian broadcast television service. He has worked as a dancer in Israel, Germany, Austria and Italy, with some brief interruptions as an actor for commercials and television fictions, and made his first feature film La lettera in January 2003.

As a choreographer and director, he created Napoli Dance Theatre Company, was Artistic Director of Balletto di Napoli, Artistic Director at Petruzzelli Theatre in Bari, Artistic Director of Balletto di Roma and Artistic Director and resident choreographer of the Ballet Company of Teatro San Carlo Opera House in Naples. His works have been performed and co-produced by the most prestigious theatres and festivals, amongst which is La Scala Theatre in Milan, New York’s Lincoln Center, the San Carlo Opera House of Naples and the Opera of Rome. Some of his works, such as Marco Polo, Cassandra, Amarcord, Five Seasons, Mare Nostrum and Barbie’s World, have been performed around the world.

Alessio Passaquindici is a sympathetic Marco Polo, dancing with elegance and technical brilliance. Eric Vu An is a brooding, charismatic and volatile Kublai Khan – superb in his role – and Cannito’s clean, incisive and lively choreography is impressively performed by Nice Ballet. Costuming by Jean-Pierre Laporte is, for the most part, either sumptuous or sparse, and although the sets are minimal, the mood is eloquently captured.

Ballet Nice Méditerranée presents Luciano Cannito’s Marco Polo at Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur between October 14th and 20th. More information can be found on the Nice Opera website. Tickets are available online, and by telephone on 04 92 17 40 40.

Information sourced from:

Ballet Nice Méditerranée programme notes

Artists’ websites

This article first appeared in Riviera Buzz

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Nice Opera opens new season with Delibes’ ‘Lakmé’

Poster for Nice Opera’s production of Delibes’ ‘Lakmé’ – courtesy Nice Opera

Nice Opera presents Léo Delibes’ Lakmé in a new staging by Laurent Pelly, a co-production between Nice Opera, the National Theatre of the Opéra-Comique and the National Opera of the Rhine. Lakmé stars soprano Kathryn Lewek in the title role and tenor Thomas Bettinger as her lover Gérald. Her servant, Mallika, is sung by mezzo-soprano Majdouline Zerari, and the role of Lakmé’s father, Nilakantha, is taken by baritone Jean-Luc Ballestra.

An opera in three acts, Lakmé was written in 1883 and based on a book by French naval officer and novelist, Pierre Loti, who had travelled widely and written a number of novels with an exotic theme. The idea of composing an opera based on Rarahu ou le Mariage de Loti (telling of his romantic liaison with an exotic Tahitian girl) was suggested to Delibes by Edmond Godinet who was keen to write a libretto for two stars of the Opéra Comique. Delibes apparently loved the idea, and set his opera in an exotic and beautiful location, with mysterious religious rituals, and the added intrigue of Western colonials living in a foreign country. The score was completed within a year, with a libretto by Godinet and Philippe Gille. A concert version of Lakmé premiered at the National Theatre of the Opéra Comique on 14th April 1883 – where it has been staged over 1,600 times since then.

The opera tells of a Brahmin girl, Lakmé who falls in love with a British officer, Gérald, whom she meets on a river bank where she and her servant Mallika had gone to gather flowers and to bathe. When her father – the stern Brahmin priest Nilakantha – discovers that a British soldier has trespassed and defiled the Temple of Brahmin, he swears vengeance. In the bustling bazaar Nilakantha forces Lakmé to sing a distinctive aria, the Bell Song, to attract the attention of the British officer, and as he draws closer to her, he is stabbed by Nilakantha.

Only slightly wounded, he is helped by Lakmé and Nilakantha’s servant, Hadji, to a secret hiding place deep in the forest. Gérald knows that he has been ordered to a new post, and realises that he must fulfill his duty and leave Lakmé behind. On hearing this, she tears a leaf from a poisonous tree and bites into it and as Nilakantha arrives on the scene she dies.

American soprano Kathryn Lewek may be remembered for her performance in the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor for Nice Opera last season. She has made her name as the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), a role in which she marked her 50th performance at the Metropolitan Opera last season. According to the New York Classical Review, she is said to be “…. the finest contemporary Queen of the Night, bar none”. This season she will reprise this role at Semperoper in Dresden, where she will also sing the role of Olympia in Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann, before performing the Queen of the Night at the Metropolitan Opera and appearing in Handel’s Messiah at Carnegie Hall. Future seasons include reprisals of the roles of Konstanze in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata, as well as role débuts as Juliette in Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette and Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto.

French tenor Thomas Bettinger – who appeared in Nice Opera’s production of Massenet’s Werther in May – has a voice described by Forum Opera as “warm, powerful and well conducted”. He has performed in most of the major opera houses across France, including the Opéra Garnier in Paris, in a wide range of roles such as Cavaradossi in Puccini’s Tosca, Lt Pinkerton in his Madame Butterfly, Chevalier des Grieux in Massenet’s Manon, Lenski in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Alfredo in Verdi’s La Traviata and Don José in Bizet’s Carmen. In the concert hall, Mr Bettinger has sung the tenor part in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony at the Madeleine Church in Paris, and in Bordeaux and Avignon, and in Haydn’s Creation at Avignon Opéra.

French mezzo-soprano Majdouline Zerari sings the role of Mallika. She has most recently appeared as Annina in Verdi’s La Traviata at Opéra national de Lorraine, also at Wiener Staatsoper, the Festival d’Aix en Provence and in opera houses across France, at which she has also sung the roles of Dritte Dame in Die Zauberflöte and Chamira in the World Premier of Thierry Escaich’s Shirine. As a concert performer, she has sung in Bartók’s Village Scenes, Mozart’s Requiem, Shostakovich’s Jewish Folk Poetry, Ravel’s Mélodies populaires grecques, Vivaldi’s Judita Triumphans and Berlioz’s Les Nuits d’été.

Last seen at Nice Opera in the role of Albert in Massenet’s Werther in May, French Baritone Jean-Luc Ballestra takes the role of the Brahmin Nilakantha. His repertoire includes the roles of Masetto in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Silvano in Verdi’s Un ballo in Maschera, Marcello in Puccini’s La bohème, Lescaut in his Manon Lescaut and Escamillo in Bizet’s Carmen. He made his American debut with the San Francisco Symphony in Ravel’s L’Heure Espagnole, and has also sung at the Salzburg, Vienna and Aix-en-Provence festivals. This summer he sang the role of Méphistophélès from Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust in Erfurt and during this current season, he will sing Le Dancaïre from Carmen in Zürich and El Tío Sarvaor from La Vida Breve by Manuel De Falla in Metz.

Also in the cast are Guillaume Andrieux as Frédéric, Lauranne Oliva as Ellen, Elsa Roux Chamoux as Rose, Svetlana Lifar as Mrs Bentson and Carl Ghazarossian as Hadji.                                       

The conductor is Jacques Lacombe, regarded as one of the great specialists of French opera. He was appointed the new Artistic and Principal Conductor of the Orchestre Classique de Montréal in February this year. Following this appearance in Nice, he leads the Montreal Orchestra in Slava Ukraïni on October 17, in Piazzolla’s Maria de Buenos Aires and Handel’s Messiah. He leads the soloists, Nice Opera Choir and the Nice Philharmonic Orchestra in three performances of Delibes’ Lakmé – sung in French with surtitles in both French and English – on September 29th, October 1st and 3rd at the Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur.

Tickets may be reserved online.

Information sourced from:

Nice Opera programme notes

Artists’ websites

This article first appeared in Riviera Buzz

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Monte-Carlo Philharmonic opens new season with Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ Symphony

In the year which celebrates the centenary of the birth of Prince Rainier III, Kazuki Yamada leads the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra (OPMC) in the opening concert of the 2023-24 season. The programme features Sir Andrzej Panufnik’s Symphony No 3, Sinfonia Sacra, and Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No 2, Resurrection.

The soloists in the Mahler Symphony are Australian soprano Eleanor Lyons and German mezzo-soprano Gerhild Romberger, backed by the impressive City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Chorus (CBSO), directed by Simon Halsey CBE.

Kazuki Yamada and the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra – courtesy OPMC

Artistic and Musical Director of the OPMC, Kazuki Yamada is also Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO), Permanent Conductor of the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra and Guest Conductor of the Seiji Ozawa International Academy.

Soprano Eleanor Lyons, according to Resmusica, has “A straight and powerful voice, capable of the most delicate nuances, with seemingly unlimited highs”. Ms Lyons’ current season includes performances of Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 2 Lobgesang with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Strauss’ Four Last Songs with the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, a New Year’s Concert with the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, as well as Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem and Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang with the Balthasar Neumann Choir & Ensemble.

As a concert performer, mezzo-soprano Gerhild Romberger has a wide-ranging repertoire which covers all major contralto and mezzo-soprano parts in the oratorio and concert repertoire – including the Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods, as well as 20th century music. Highlights of her career include Beethoven’s Symphony No 9 with Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France in Paris, with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra – part of the International Music Festival in Hamburg – with the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon and in Mahler’s Symphony No 3 with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Chorus, comprising 180 vocalists, is one of the world’s great choirs and has been trained for almost 40 years by Simon Halsey CBE. With four Grammy Awards to its credit, the Chorus performs in the main with the CBSO, and has also appeared with some of the world’s greatest orchestras, such as the Vienna and Berlin philharmonics. It has a wide-ranging repertoire, from Bach to Henze, the Mahler symphonies and the CBSO’s famous annual carol concerts, and has toured Europe, Asia, Australia and North America.

Warsaw-born Sir Andrzej Panufnik is one of the most important and original symphonic composers of the second half of the 20th century. Having won international admiration and honours in his own country – he became the “father” of the Polish avant-garde – he was appointed chief conductor of the Kraków Philharmonic Orchestra in 1945, seeking out instrumentalists scattered all over Poland, and in 1946 he was also asked to restore the Warsaw Philharmonic. From 1957 to 1959, Andrzej Panufnik served as Chief Conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, before deciding to dedicate his life entirely to composition.

Symphony No 3 Sinfonia Sacra was composed in 1963 as a tribute to Poland’s Millennium of Christianity and Statehood in 1966, and – as the composer says – “as an expression of my religious and patriotic feelings”. As a result he was keen that this work would be Polish in character, with an emphasis on the Catholic tradition. He based the symphony on the first known hymn in the Polish language, the Bogurodzica, a Gregorian chant, the heroic and religious aspects of which were incorporated into the symphony. It was premiered by the Monte-Carlo Opera orchestra, conducted by Louis Fremaux on 12th August, 1964.

Austrian pianist, composer and conductor Gustav Mahler is today known for his emotional, large scale symphonies – characterised as part of the Romanticism movement – and choral works such as Das Klagende Lied, Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth) and the song cycle Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer). During the early period of his composing career, his work was met the the public lack of comprehension which he was to experience for most of his career. Turning to conducting, he served as director for the Vienna Court Opera from 1897 to 1907, and later led the New York Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

Mahler ultimately composed 10 symphonies, and is now regarded as a pioneer of 20th century composition techniques, and an influence on composers such as Arnold Schoenberg, Dmitry Shostakovich, Benjamin Britten and Alban Berg.

Mahler completed the first movement of his Symphony No 2, Resurrection, in a few months. Four years later, in 1893, he composed an andante in the style of an Austrian folk dance, and a scherzo based on his own setting of the Wunderhorn song. Inspiration for the final movement came during the funeral service for the conductor and pianist Hans von Bülow, in which a boys’ choir performed a setting of the Resurrection Ode by the German poet Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock. The first three movements were heard in Berlin on 4th March, 1895, and the premiere of the complete work took place on 13th December of that year, with the composer again conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

Kazuki Yamada leads the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra, soloists and CBSO Chorus in the opening concert of the 2023-24 season. The performance takes place in the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco, on 24th September. For booking information visit the OPMC website.

Information sourced from:

OPMC programme notes

Artists’ websites

This article first appeared in Riviera Buzz

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Dutch National Ballet opens new season with Balanchine’s ‘The Four Temperaments’

Anna Ol, Victor Caixeta, Jessica Xuan and Constantine Allen in Balanchine’s
‘The Four Temperaments’ © Marta Syrko

The Dutch National Ballet opens its 2023-24 season with a fascinating programme. The largest ballet company in the Netherlands performs George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments, Hans van Manen’s Frank Bridge Variations and two new works – The Chairman Dances by artistic director Ted Brandsen and the world premiere of Full Frontal by Juanjo Arqués.

In 1946, George Balanchine choreographed The Four Temperaments to a piece of music which he’d commissioned some years earlier from Swiss composer, Paul Hindemith. Balanchine described the ballet as “an expression in dance and music of the the Greek and medieval notion that the human organism is made up of four different humors, or temperaments”. Each one of us, according to this notion, possesses these four humours, but in different degrees, and the dominance of one of them — melancholic, sanguinic, phlegmatic and choleric — determines our characters. Neither the music nor the ballet itself makes specific interpretation of the idea – it was merely the point of departure for both the composer and choreographer.

Victor Caixeta and Maia Makhateli rehearsing Balanchine’s ‘The Four Temperaments’
©Altin Kaftira

The Four Temperaments – an early experimental work for Balanchine – reflects the genius of the choreographer. A powerful and abstract ballet, the first of his so-called ‘black and white’ – or leotard ballets – with no costumes or stage set, was the forerunner of a number of consecutive works of this kind, a format which proved enduringly successful for the choreographer.

Hans van Manen – winner of numerous awards – is recognised internationally as one of the grand masters of contemporary ballet, having created more than 150 works, which all bear his distinctive signature. A former dancer with the Netherlands Opera Ballet and Roland Petit’s Ballets de Paris, van Manen has worked with the two most important companies in the Netherlands today – he co-directed and has been resident choreographer for Nederlands Dans Theater, and is now resident choreographer with the Dutch National Ballet.

Sem Sjouke, Dingkai Bai and Conor Walmsley in Van Manen’s ‘Frank Bridge Variations’
© Altin Kaftira

His Frank Bridge Variations is set to Benjamin Britten’s Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge. Written in 1937 as a tribute to Britten’s first composition teacher, Frank Bridge, this piece comprises ten variations, each of which is intended to represent an aspect of Bridge’s character. The ballet reflects the simplicity of van Manen’s choreography, which is just beautiful, and again is unobtrusively costumed and set against a plain background.

The Chairman Dances, the third work on the programme, has been created by the company’s artistic director, Ted Brandsen. It’s billed as “a new ballet for a big ensemble’, and is set to John Adams’ compelling piece of the same name. This piece of music, written in 1985, is said to be an ‘out-take’ from Adams’ internationally acclaimed opera Nixon in China, and the first part of the piece depicts the scene in which Chairman Mao and his wife dance a foxtrot together.

Rafael Valdez and Sebia Plantefève-Castryck rehearsing Ted Brandsen’s
‘The Chairman Dances’ © Altin Kaftira

John Adams is arguably America’s most well-known and successful composer. Winner of numerous Grammys, a Grawemeyer Award and a Pulitzer Prize, he has recently released a 40-CD box of his entire output since 1973. He has longstanding connections with both the San Francisco Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic, wrote the opera which opened the San Francisco Opera centennial season and this coming season will see a new production of Adams’s El Niño at the Metropolitan Opera. Also a well-known conductor, Adams has led some of the major orchestras of the world, such as the London Symphony Orchestra, the Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Chicago Symphony and the Metropolitan Opera.

Guillermo Torrijos rehearsing Arqués’ ‘Full Frontal’ © Altin Kaftira

This programme by the Dutch National Ballet closes with the premiere performance of Juanjo Arqués’ new piece Full Frontal. A former dancer with the Company, he has achieved international success as a choreographer. This latest work, inspired by the effects of stress on our daily lives, explores the physical obstacles and challenging conditions that we face today. Full Frontal is set to Weather One by Michael Gordon, an American composer and co-founder of the Bang on a Can festival and ensemble.

Dutch National Ballet presents The Four Temperaments on the main stage of the theatre of Dutch National Opera & Ballet from 16th to 30th September. The Dutch Ballet Orchestra is conducted by Matthew Rowe. Further information and tickets are available on the Dutch National Opera and Ballet website.

Information sourced from:

Dutch National Ballet programme notes

Artists’ websites

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San Francisco Opera opens new season with Verdi’s ‘Il trovatore’

Verdi’s ‘Il trovatore’ with Ekaterina Semenchuk as Azucena and members of the San Francisco Opera Chorus © Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Eun Sun Kim, Music Director of San Francisco Opera, continues her Verdi cycle, as the Company stages Sir David McVicar’s production of Il trovatore. This story of passion, drama and revenge stars soprano Angel Blue as Leonora, tenor Arturo Chacón Cruz as Manrico, the troubadour of the title. Baritone George Petean takes the role of Count di Luna, who is obsessed by Leonora. The mysterious gypsy Azucena is sung by mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Semenchuk, and Ferrando, captain of the troops, is bass Robert Pomakov.

Robert Pomakov as Ferrando with members of the San Francisco Opera Chorus in
Verdi’s ‘Il trovatore’ © Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

An opera in four acts, Il trovatore was composed by Giuseppe Verdi between 1851 and 1853, with a libretto largely written by Salvadore Cammarano. It was based on the 1836 play El toreador by Antonio García Gutiérrez, but Cammarano died before completing the libretto, and Italian poet Leone Emanuele Bardare, a friend and collaborator of his, completed the text. The opera premiered at the Teatro Apollo in Rome on January 19th in 1853.

The original setting of the opera was Aragon and Biscay (now Vizcaya) in 1409, during the Spanish civil war. David McVicar has moved the action to 1808 and set it against the backdrop of the Spanish War of Independence against Napoleon, taking inspiration for his designs from Francisco Goya’s 82 prints, Desastres de la Guerra.

Angel Blue as Leonora and Arturo Chacón-Cruz as Manrico in Verdi’s ‘Il trovatore’
© Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Il trovatore tells of Leonora, a young noblewoman in the queen’s service, who is in love with Manrico, a troubadour who serenades her every evening. Count di Luna, however is obsessed by her. He has also sworn to avenge what he believes to be the death of his infant brother at the hands of a gypsy woman, Azucena. Manrico has been brought up to believe that the gypsy is his mother, but he isn’t aware that Azucena accidentally killed her own child, kidnapped Manrico and brought him up as her own – and he is actually the brother of the Count. The actions of Azucena all those years ago affect each of the main characters in the story, and lead to a train of events which end in tragedy.

Angel Blue as Leonora in Verdi’s ‘Il trovatore’
© Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Grammy Award-winning Angel Blue was also the recipient of the 2020 Beverly Sills Award and the winner of the 2022 Richard Tucker Award. She earned international acclaim in the role of Mimí in Puccini’s La bohème in her house debuts at the Palau de Les Arts in Valencia, Vienna State Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Semperoper Dresden, Hamburg State Opera and Metropolitan Opera. Future highlights of Angel Blue’s current season include a performance at Vienna State Opera of the title role in Puccini’s Tosca – following a recent performance of which Seen and Heard International wrote: “Angel Blue soars as the divine Tosca in Los Angeles” – in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, a soloist in the Celebrating Maria Callas Concert at Carnegie Hall and as Micaela in Bizet’s Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera.

Arturo Chacón-Cruz as Manrico with members of the San Francisco Opera Chorus in
Verdi’s ‘Il trovatore’ © Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Arturo Chacón Cruz has sung over 60 roles in 30 countries during his career, including those of Rodolfo in La bohème and the Duke of Mantua in Verdi’s Rigoletto for San Francisco Opera. Other performances include those of Manrico and the title role in Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Oronte in Verdi’s I Lombardi in Monte-Carlo, Jacopo Foscari in Verdi’s I due Foscari in Paris, as well as one of his signature roles, the title role in Massenet’s Werther at the State Opera in Stuttgart.  Upcoming performances this season include those of des Grieux in Manon in Tenerife, Riccardo in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera at Teatro Regio di Palma, Gustavo in the same opera at Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, and Don José in Carmen in  Liege.

Ekaterina Semenchuk as Azucena and Arturo Chacón-Cruz as Manrico in Verdi’s ‘Il trovatore’
© Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Ekaterina Semenchuk has previously appeared at San Francisco Opera as Federica in Verdi’s Luisa Miller, as Amneris in Aida and as Santuzza in Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana. She is a regular guest at the Salzburg Festival and has also performed on stages of opera houses such as the Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Opéra de Bastille in Paris, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, the Berlin Staatsoper unter den Linden, the the Arena di Verona, the Opera in Rome and Teatro alla Scala Milan. Her wide-ranging repertoire also includes mezzo roles in operas such as Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette, Bizet’s Carmen, Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila, Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, Tchaikovsky’s Pique Dame, Prokofiev’s War and Peace and Wagner’s Die Walküre.

George Petean as Count di Luna in Verdi’s ‘Il trovatore’
© Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

George Petean is known for his performances in Verdi operas, and has performed the title roles in Simon Boccanegra with Opera Australia, Macbeth at Wiener Staatsoper and as Giorgio Germont in La traviata at Dutch National Opera. He appeared in numerous roles as a member of the ensemble of the Hamburg Opera between 2002 and 2010, and has also performed as a guest artist in leading opera houses such as Madrid’s Teatro Real, Paris Opéra, Staatsoper Wien, Teatro Regio di Parma, Berlin State Opera and the Metropolitan Opera.

Robert Pomakov as Ferrando with members of the San Francisco Opera Chorus in Verdi’s
‘Il Trovatore’ © Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Robert Pomakov made his company debut with San Francisco Opera as Monterone in Rigoletto, and later returned to sing Mathieu in Giordano’s Andrea Chénier. In recent seasons he has made house debuts with Opéra National de Paris as the Bonze in Puccini’s Madame Butterfly and with Den Norske Opera as Gremin in Tchaikovsky’s Yevgeny Onegin.

Eun Sun Kim leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, Chorus (director John Keene) and soloists in six performances of Verdi’s Il trovatore at the War Memorial Opera House until October 1st. For further information and details of reservations visit the San Francisco Opera website.

Information sourced from:

San Francisco Opera program notes

Angel Blue

Arturo Chacón Cruz

Ekaterina Semenchuk

George Petean

Robert Pomakov

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Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra’s 2023 Tour

The Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra – courtesy Metropolitan Opera

Conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson and the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra celebrate the first anniversary of the Orchestra’s founding with a 2023 tour which takes in performances in Warsaw, Gdansk, Berlin, Lucerne, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Snape and London. As The Globe and Mail writes: “The Russian Forces are no match for the power of Ukraine’s cultural legacy”.

The Orchestra, created under the auspices of the Polish National Opera, in coordination with the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture and the Metropolitan Opera, is led by its founding conductor and music director, Keri-Lynn Wilson. Maestro Wilson received the Opus Klassik 2020 Conductor of the Year award and has led some of the world’s leading orchestras, such as the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, NDR Radiophilharmonie, Bruckner Orchestra Linz, and NHK Symphony Orchestra. She has also appeared at the world’s most prestigious opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, Bavarian State Opera, Paris Opera, and Vienna State Opera.

Excerpt from Dvořák’s ‘New World Symphony’ from the 2022 tour

The Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra is composed of leading Ukrainian musicians from ensembles within the country – such as the Kyiv National Opera, Odesa Philharmonic Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, Lviv Philharmonic Orchestra and Kharkiv Opera – together with recent refugees and Ukrainian members of European orchestras – such as the Tonkunstler Orchestra of Vienna, Belgian National Orchestra and Staatskapelle Berlin. Now under the patronage of Ukraine’s First Lady, Olena Zelenska, the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra was formed to defend the cultural legacy of Ukraine, and undertook its inaugural tour of Europe and the United States last summer.

Ukrainian violinist Valeriy Sokolov – courtesy Askonas Holt

The featured soloist in this programme is Ukrainian violinist Valeriy Sokolov, who frequently performs with some of the most illustrious conductors, and regularly appears in major concert halls with orchestras such as the Philharmonia Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Cleveland Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Symphony and Orchestre de Paris. This past season he has performed with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic and the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic, and was Artist in Residence with the Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini in Parma.

The first part of the tour programme opens with Verdi’s Overture to La forza del destino. This dramatic opera, woven around the themes of fate, life and love, premiered in November 1862 at the Bolshoi Theatre in St Petersburg. It is followed by Yevhen Stankovych’s Violin Concerto No 2. One of the most prolific of contemporary Ukrainian composers, Mr Stankovych is creator of six symphonies and several symphonic works. The Orchestra then plays Melody – a sad, but beautiful piece, by the late Ukrainian composer, conductor and musicologist Myroslav Skoryk whose inspiration was mainly drawn from Ukrainian folklore.

After interval, the opening concert of the tour in Warsaw features Beethoven’s Symphony No 9, Ode to Joy, with soloists Olga Kulchynska, Nicole Chirka, Dmytro Popov, and Vladyslav Buialskyi and the Chorus of the Polish Białystok Opera. At all other concerts, the Orchestra will play Beethoven’s Symphony No 3, Eroica.

Keri-Lynn Wilson leads the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra in the following performances:

August 20: Teatr Wielki, Warsaw 
 
August 22: Polish Baltic F Chopin Philharmonic in Gdansk – time and tickets to be announced

August 24: Kastellanwiese at Schloss Schönhausen in Berlin. This will be a special outdoor concert to celebrate Ukrainian Independence Day.

August 27: The Lucerne Festival, Switzerland  (Myroslav Skoryk’s Melody is omitted and there is no interval)

August 28: Het Concertgebouw in Amsterdam

August 30: Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg

September 2: Snape Maltings, Snape, UK 

September 3: The Barbican, London 

Information sourced from:

Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra programme notes

Valeriy Sokolov

Yevhen Stankovych

Myroslav Skoryk

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Greek National Opera stages revival of Verdi’s ‘Nabucco’

Scene from Greek National Opera’s production of ‘Nabucco’ at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus
© Dimitris Sakalakis

Va, pensiero, sull’ali dorate (Fly, thought, on golden wings) – the opening words of one of the most beautiful and well-known choruses in the world of opera. It’s the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from Verdi’s Nabucco, sung as they gather on the banks of the Euphrates River, lamenting the loss of their fatherland.

As part of the Athens Epidaurus Festival, Greek National Opera stages a revival of Italian director Leo Muscato’s production of Verdi’s Nabucco, featuring a cast of international artists, led by Italian conductor Paolo Carignani in his debut appearance for GNO. Performance of the title role is shared between baritones Dimitri Platanias and Tassis Christoyannis – making his debut in this role. Nabucco’s daughter Fenena is sung by mezzo-soprano Elena Maximova who shares the role with mezzo-soprano Marissia Papalexiou. Tenors Yannis Christopoulos and Konstantinos Klironomos share the role of Ismaële – nephew of the King of Jerusalem – and Abigaille is sung by soprano Ekaterina Semenchuk or Maria José Siri.

Nabucco – a four-act opera composed in 1841 – is regarded as the work which established the reputation of Guiseppe Verdi as a composer, and to which Verdi himself referred as “the opera with which my artistic career really begins”. It was also linked to the end of his life, for when Verdi died in Milan in 1901, the crowd of over 300,000, which had gathered for his solemn funeral procession, joined a massed choir to sing the emotional Va, pensiero.

The Italian libretto, by Temistocle Solera, was based partly on the biblical story of the conquest of the Hebrews by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar (or Nabucodonosor in Italian – Nabucco in its shortened form), as catalogued in the books of Jeremiah and Daniel. Solera also based his libretto on an 1836 play by Auguste Anicet-Bourgeois and Francis Cornue, although it’s believed that he was influenced to a greater degree by Antonio Cortese’s 1836 balletic adaptation of the play. The opera – under its original name, Nabucodonosor – was premiered at La Scala on 9th March 1842.

Dimitris Platanias in the title role of GNO’s production of ‘Nabucco’ © Aris Messinis

Nabucco opens in the year 586 BC, with Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon and his army at the gates of Jerusalem, which is about to fall to them, forcing the Jewish people into exile from their homeland. Against the backdrop of these historical events, two plots unfold – one romantic, one political. The romantic plot involves Fenena – Nabucco’s daughter, who has been held hostage by the Hebrews – her jailer, Ismaële, with whom she’s in love, and Abigaille, her supposed half-sister, who is also in love with Ismaële. On the political front, Abigaille’s jealousy of Fenena is heightened when Nabucco appoints Fenena as regent in his absence, and Abigaille discovers that she’s not Nabucco’s daughter at all, but was sold to him as a slave.

Following Dimitri Platanias’ highly acclaimed debut at the Royal Opera Covent Garden in the title role of Rigoletto, The Times referred to him as “… the stunning Greek baritone …”, Richard Morrison further writing: “I have rarely heard the title role sung with such gloriously sustained tone and line, or such thrilling power….”. Opera houses in which he has also performed include the Bayerische Staatsoper, Teatro La Fenice, Oper Frankfurt, the Osterfestspiele Salzburg, the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia and San Francisco Opera.

A dramatic scene from GNO’s producton of ‘Nabucco’ © Aris Menissis

Tassis Christoyannis spent several years as a member of the Greek National Opera before joining the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf. Now freelance, he sings principal baritone roles in Italian, French and Russian works at opera houses and festivals in cities such as Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Geneva, Brussels, Amsterdam, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Frankfurt and at Glyndebourne.

Roles in Elena Maximova’s repertoire include Rosina in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Polina in Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades, Siebel in Gounod’s Faust, Suzuki in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Olga in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, the title role in Bizet’s Carmen and Charlotte in Massenet’s Werther. She has also appeared at the Berlin Staatsoper, the Semperoper Dresden, the Teatro Comunale in Florence the Palau de les Arts in Valencia and the Teatro alla Scala Milan.

Dimitris Plantanias sings the role of Nabucco © Aris Menissis

Marissia Papalexiou started her career as a member of the GNO Chorus. As a soloist she has sung in works such as Richard Strauss’ Die Frau ohne Schatten, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Verdi’s La traviata, Bizet’s Carmen, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Offenbach’s La belle Hélène, as well as works by young Greek composers in concert.

Having appeared regularly at the Salzburg Festival, Ekaterina Semenchuk has performed in operas including Verdi’s Il trovatore, Aida, Macbeth, Don Carlo and La forza del destino, Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette, Bizet’s Carmen, Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila, Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, Tchaikovsky’s La Pique Dame, Prokofiev’s War and Peace and Wagner’s Die Walküre.

Dimitris Plantanias takes centre stage in the GNO production of ‘Nabucco’ © Aris Menissis

Uruguayan soprano Maria José Siri is said by MTG Lirica to have a “Sumptuous, torrential voice that knows how to bend to the colors and dynamics required in the score at the right moment”. With a repertoire that ranges from bel canto to verismo, she has performed at Teatro alla Scala Milan, Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the Wiener Staatsoper, the Staatsoper and Deutsche Oper of Berlin, Bayerische Staatsoper, Hamburgische Staatsoper and Semperoper Dresden.

Yannis Christopoulos has collaborated with all the important orchestras of Greece, and since 2011 has been a permanent member of the Greek National Opera Soloists, performing roles of the classic and modern repertory. Most recent operas in which he has appeared include Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, Bellini’s La sonnambula, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Gounod’s Faust, Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi.

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus on the south-west slope of the Acropolis © Dimitris Sakalakis

Following Konstantinos Klironomos’s performance of Macduff in Verdi’s Macbeth last year, culture website IOCO wrote: “His warm, beautiful-sounding, heroically colored and powerful tenor was another highlight of the evening”. His repertoire includes the roles of Cavaradossi in Puccini’s Tosca, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Don Alvaro in Verdi’s La forza del destino, Il Duca di Mantova in Verdi’s Rigoletto, Roméo in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, the title roles in Mozart’s Idomeneo and La Clemenza di Tito and Tamino in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte.

Multi award-winning Italian director and playwright Leo Muscato last produced Nabucco for GNO in 2018. Other productions this year include three operas – Händel’s Agrippina at the Bonn Opera House, Vinci’s Li zite ‘ngalera at Teatro alla Scala in Milan and a revival of the 2021 production for the Bonn Opera House of Rossini’s La Cenerentola for Teatro Lirico Calgari.

Among productions which Italian conductor Paolo Carignani has recently led are Bizet’s Carmen in Beijing, Puccini’s La bohème at the Metropolitan Opera, Verdi’s La forza del destino for Deutsche Oper, and Aida and La traviata for Royal Danish Opera. Maestro Carignani returns to GNO next season to lead a new production of the double bill of Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci.

Paolo Carignani leads the Orchestra, Soloists and Chorus (Chorus Master Agathangelos Georgakatos) of the Greek National Opera in performances of Verdi’s Nabucco at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus from 26th to 30th July. Tickets can be bought from the GNO Box Office and online via ticketservices.gr/en

All photographs were taken at the time of the 2018 production


Information sourced from:

GNO programme notes

Verdi, An Autobiographical Sketch 1879 (Werfel and Stefan 1973)

Budden, Julian (1973), The Operas of Verdi, Vol. 1. London: Cassell Ltd, 1973. pp. 89–112. ISBN 0-304-31058-1 (via Wikipedia)

Artists’ websites

Monte-Carlo Philharmonic presents season of Concerts at the Prince’s Palace

The Cour d’Honneur of the Prince’s Palace, Monaco © Gaetan Luci

The summer season of Concerts at the Prince’s Palace opens in the Principality of Monaco this month. Given by the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra and featuring a series of illustrious conductors and soloists, these concerts take place in the glorious surroundings of the Cour d’Honneur at the Prince’s Palace.

The opening concert of this season, on 16th July, is led by the OPMC’s Music Director Kazuki Yamada and features Daniil Trifonov playing the Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No 4, with Brahms’ First Symphony also on the programme. This concert has already sold out.

Violinist Gil Shaham © Chris Lee

It is followed, on Thursday 20th July, by a performance of Erich Korngold’s wonderfully romantic Violin Concerto by violinist Gil Shaham – said by the New York Times to be “…among the most inspired violinists of his ­generation”. The concert is led by Fabien Gabel, Music Director designate of the Viennese Tonkünstler Orchestra as of the 2025/26 season, and “One of the rising stars of the new generation of international conductors”, says Lëtzebuerger Land. Also on the programme are Gustav Mahler’s Blumine, Josef Strauss’ Musique des Sphères and Maurice Ravel’s “choreographic poem” La Valse, written originally as a ballet, but now more often heard as a concert piece.

Conductor Ottavio Dantone © Giulia Papetti

Ottavio Dantone leads the concert on Sunday 23rd July. An internationally accomplished organist and harpsichordist, Dantone has also made his name as the music director of chamber and small orchestras, as well as having conducted performances in some of the world’s finest opera houses. Solo violinist Giuliano Carmignola plays Jean-Sébastien Bach’s Violin Concerto No 1, and is then joined by oboist Matthieu Petit Jean in a performance of Jean-Sébastien Bach’s Concerto for Oboe and Violin. The concert ends with Mozart’s Symphony No 38, known as the Prague, a symphony written for that city because of the popularity of his opera Le nozze di Figaro there.

French conductor and violinist Jean-Christophe Spinosi – founder of the Ensemble Matheus – leads the OPMC and soloist Daniel Lozakovich in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No 3, known as the Strasbourg. Lozakovich’s tone, according to the Hamburger Abendblatt “…resonates with the Romantic warmth of such forebears as Christian Ferras or Jascha Heifetz”. The other work on the programme for Thursday 27th July is Beethoven’s popular Sixth Symphony, the Pastorale.

Cellist Marc Coppey © Kyoko Homma

The soloist in the concert on Thursday 3rd August is cellist Marc Coppey, whom Télérama says “…. is rightly part of the great tradition of French cellists”. He plays Joseph Haydn’s Cello Concerto in a performance conducted by Lawrence Foster, Music Director of Marseille Opera, as well as Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra. The opening work is Brahms’ lovely Variations on a Theme by Haydn – known as the Saint Anthony Variations – and the concert ends in sprightly mood with Brahms’ Hungarian Dances Nos 1 to 5.

Conductor Jaap van Zweden © Simon van Boxtel

The final concert in this season of symphony concerts at the Prince’s Palace takes place on Sunday 6th August. Jaap van Zweden – Music Director of the New York Philharmonic since 2018, and of the Hong Kong Philharmonic since 2012 – leads the performance. International recitalist, soloist and chamber musician, French pianist David Fray, plays Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 21, known as Elvira Madigan, as the second movement featured in the 1967 Swedish film of that name. The season is brought to a close with Beethoven’s Symphony No 7, another major work synonymous with the world of cinema, as the Allegretto was memorably used in the film The King’s Speech.

Reservations for the Concerts at the Prince’s Palace can be made online via this link.

Information sourced from:

OPMC programme notes

Artists’ websites

This article first appeared in Riviera Buzz

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Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo ends season with Maillot’s ‘Cinderella’

In the final programme of L’Été danse! this season, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo stages Jean-Christophe Maillot’s interpretation of Cinderella, in which he takes a fresh look at this well-known fairy tale.


Putting a new twist on the story, Maillot turns the death of Cinderella’s mother into a positive force for her daughter’s life, at the same time taking a sidelong glance at the artificial society which surrounds the young girl.
Instead of Cinderella’s stepmother being cruel, and her stepsisters ugly and figures of fun, the three of them are worldly and seductive, using their charm to achieve their aims. There is no room in their home for dwelling on loss or the past.


Maillot introduces a new character to the story – a Fairy who guides Cinderella and removes her from the influence of her materialistic step-family. This Fairy is a reincarnation of Cinderella’s mother – Maillot drawing on the belief of how one who is no longer around can shape the future of those who are left behind.


In a further departure from the original story, instead of a glass slipper, Cinderella’s bare foot becomes the focus of the ballet, highlighting the natural simplicity of the young girl’s character.

Maillot’s Cinderella is set to Serge Prokofiev’s sumptuous score, played in this recorded version by the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra, led by David Garforth. The stage design is by Ernest Pignon-Ernest, costumes are by Jérome Kaplan and lighting by Dominique Drillot.

Performances take place on 18th, 19th and 20th July, 2023, at the Salle Garnier of the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, where the ballet was premiered on 3rd April, 1999. For further information and reservations, visit Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo website.

All photographs © Alice Blangero

Information sourced from:

Les ballets de Monte-Carlo programme notes

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