Honeck leads Czech Philharmonic in live-streamed New Year’s Gala Concert

Manfred Honeck leads the Czech Philharmonic in a New Year’s Gala Concert –
courtesy IMG Artists

The Czech Philharmonic will be streaming its New Year’s Gala Concert live from the Dvořák Hall of Prague’s Rudolfinum on Saturday evening. This performance of magical Viennese music is led by Manfred Honeck, and stars Kyrgyz soprano Katharina Konradi and French horn player Radek Baborák.

Viennese music has come to symbolise our New Year celebrations and the programme, appropriately, features some of the best – from composers like Johann Strauss II, Franz Lehár, Franz von Suppé, Richard Strauss and Josef Strauss. Included are the Waltz King’s Overture to Die Fledermaus and Wiener Blut, Lehár’s Vilja from The Merry Widow and the Gold and Silver Waltz, von Suppé’s Poet and Peasant Overture, Richard Strauss’s Moonlight Music from Capriccio, and Josef Strauss’s Dragonfly polka and mazurka.

The Czech Philharmonic with Music Director Semyon Bychkov © Petra Hajska

Maestro Honeck – regarded as one of the world’s leading conductors – has served as Music Director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for over a decade, a partnership which has received several Grammy nominations as well as a 2018 Grammy Award in the Best Orchestral Performance category. A former Principal Guest Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, Manfred Honeck has led some of the most prestigious of the world’s orchestras – the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Staatskapelle Dresden, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Accademia di Santa Cecilia Rome and the Vienna Philharmonic – and is a frequent guest conductor with the major American orchestras.

Soprano Katharina Konradi

Katharina Konradi has been a member of the Hamburg State Opera since 2018, and has also appeared with Semperoper in Dresden, at the Bayreuth Festival, and with the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. Known as a concert soloist, and particularly for her lied interpretation, Ms Konradi has appeared with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, the Orchestre de Paris, the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. This year she performed at the traditional ZDF Advent Concert with the Staatskapelle Dresden, and has just completed the BBC New Generation Artists programme.

French horn player Radek Baborak – courtesy Nordic Artists Management

Radek Baborák has served as principal French horn for the Berlin, Munich and Czech philharmonics. Also a conductor, he founded the Czech Sinfonietta, is Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Prague Chamber Soloists, is Chief Guest Conductor of the Yamagata Symphony Orchestra, and this year became the Chief Conductor of the West-Bohemian Symphony Orchestra. His repertoire is wide, including music of the Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras, as well as composers of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Manfred Honeck leads the Czech Philharmonic in a New Year’s Gala Concert in the Dvořák Hall, in Prague’s Rudolfinum at 8.00 pm (CET) on Saturday, 1st January, 2022. For more information on the concert, visit the Czech Philharmonic website where there’s a link to book tickets online.

This concert will also be streamed live on Facebook.

Information sourced from:

Czech Philharmonic programme notes

Artists’ websites

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Met Opera presents Massenet’s ‘Cinderella’ Live in HD

Isabel Leonard in the title role of Massenet’s ‘Cinderella’ Photo: Karen Almond/Met Opera

On New Year’s Day, the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts another production in its Live in HD series in cinemas throughout the world. On this first Saturday of 2022, the Met features Jules Massenet’s interpretation of one of the world’s favourite fairly tales, Cinderella, in an abridged, English-language version, specially adapted for family audiences – “.… a delight”, according to the New York Times.

This production, directed by Laurent Pelly, has a libretto by Kelley Rourke, and stars mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard in the title role, with mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo as Prince Charming, soprano Jessica Pratt as the Fairy Godmother, with mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe and bass-baritone Laurent Naouri as Cinderella’s feuding guardians, Madame de la Haltièr and Pandolfe. Emmanuel Villaume conducts, and the live cinema transmission is hosted by countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo.

Jules Massenet (1842–1912) – one the leading French operatic composers of the Romantic era – is mainly remembered for the lyrical music which he wrote for more than 30 operas – works such as Manon, Le Cid, Esclarmonde, Werther, Chérubin, Don Quichotte and Cendrillon – and also for his oratorios, ballets, orchestral works, incidental music, piano pieces and songs. The libretto for the original French version of CinderellaCendrillon – was written by Henri Cain (1857–1937), a dramatist who based this work on the Cinderella story by French author Charles Perrault. Kelley Rourke, librettist for this Met Opera production, is also a translator and dramaturg, who has collaborated with companies such as English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Scottish Opera, Washington National Opera, the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and the Glimmerglass Festival.

A scene from Massenet’s ‘Cinderella’ Photo: Ken Howard / Met Opera

Laurent Pelly brings a good deal of theatrical experience to his operatic productions, having been Co-Director of Théâtre national de Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées between 2008 and 2018. Naturally drawn to the French and Italian repertoires, he has also explored the work of composers other nationalities – such as Janáček, Rimsky-Korsakov and Prokofiev – and future productions include works by Smetana, Tchaikovsky and Wager. Pelly does costume design for all his productions, and set design for some of them as well.

Isabel Leonard in the title role of Massenet’s ‘Cinderella’ Photo: Karen Almond / Met Opera

With her “lustrous voice” (Daily Gazette), Isabel Leonard – a two-time Grammy-winning artist and the 2013 winner of the Richard Tucker Foundation Award – is well known to Met Opera audiences. She has appeared in the title role in Nico Muhly’s Met-commissioned opera Marnie, and the role of Blanche in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmelites – both of which were screened Live in HD. Ms Leonard’s recent performances also include the title role in Rossini’s La Cenerentola at Wiener Staatsoper and that of Charlotte in Massenet’s Werther at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Jessica Pratt as the Fairy Godmother in Massenet’s ‘Cinderella’
Photo: Karen Almond / Met Opera

Jessica Pratt – described by the New York Times as a soprano of “gleaming sound …. and lyrical grace” – made her Met debut as the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s The Magic Flute in 2016. Her performances at festivals and in opera houses around the world include those in productions of Bellini’s I Puritani at Amigos de la Ópera de A Coruña and Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, Verdi’s La Traviata at Opera Las Palmas and Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann at ABAO in Bilbao.

Emily D’Angelo as Prince Charming and Isabel Leonard as Cinderella
Photo: Karen Almond / Met Opera

Emily D’Angelo, with “…. a voice hued like polished teak” says the New York Times, was named a 2020 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist, and is the first and only vocalist to have been presented with the Leonard Bernstein Award from the Schleswig Holstein Festival. Performances this season include house and role debuts as Ottavia in Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea at Zurich Opera, as Angelina in Rossini’s La Cenerentola at Semperoper Dresden, Siebel in Gounod’s Faust at Ópera national de Paris, and a role debut as Donna Elvira in Mozart’s Don Giovanni at Teatro alla Scala in Milan. 

Maya Lahyani as Dorothy, Stephanie Blythe as Madame de la Haltière and Jacqueline Echols as Naomie in Massenet’s ‘Cinderella’ Photo: Karen Almond / Met Opera

Stephanie Blythe has a wide repertoire, ranging from Handel to Wagner, and German lieder to contemporary and classic American song. She made her Met Opera debut in Wagner’s Parsifal in 1995, and has performed in many of the world’s leading opera houses, including Carnegie Hall, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Ópera national de Paris, as well as at San Francisco, Chicago Lyric and Seattle operas. Ms Blythe was the 1999 winner of the Richard Tucker Award, the recipient of an Opera News Award in 2007, and was named Musical America’s Vocalist of the Year in 2009.

Laurent Naouri as Pandolfe, Jessica Pratt as the Fairy Godmother, Isabel Leonard as Cinderella, and Emily D’Angelo as Prince Charming in Massenet’s ‘Cinderella’
Photo: Karen Almond / Met Opera

Laurent Naouri made his debut with the Met Opera as Sharpless in a 2012 production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. With a repertoire of around 40 roles, notable engagements include those of the title role in Verdi’s Falstaff at the Met, the four villains in Les contes d’Hoffmann, Goulaud in Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande and Count Almaviva in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro in Aix-en-Provence and Tokyo, and Giorgio Germont in Verdi’s La Traviata at Santa Fe.

Maestro Villaume has been Music Director of The Dallas Opera since 2013, and Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Prague Philharmonic since 2015. He made his conducting debut at the Met in a 2004 production of Madama Butterfly, and has fulfilled engagements at some of the world’s major opera houses, and with leading symphony orchestras, in cities such as Lucerne, Copenhagen and Monte Carlo, at London’s Royal Albert Hall and the White Nights Festival at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg.

A scene from Massenet’s ‘Cinderella’ Photo: Jonathan Tichler / Met Opera

The first production of this adaptation of Cinderella took place in early December at Opera Santa Fe. The original full-length production of Cendrillon was produced in French, in association with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London; Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona; Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, Brussels; and Opéra de Lille.

Emmanuel Villaume leads the soloists, and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus in an abridged, family-friendly performance of Massenet’s Cinderella, on Saturday January 1st 2022. The production will be broadcast live from the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, to cinemas around the world. Find your local cinema screening on this link.

Further information on Cinderella can be found on the Metropolitan Opera website.

Information sourced from Metropolitan Opera program notes

Artists’ websites

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Royal Ballet streams The Dante Project

As part of the celebrations of the 700th anniversary of the death of Italian poet Dante Alighieri, The Royal Ballet streams its highly acclaimed production of Wayne McGregor’s The Dante Project as of Monday, 20th December.

With a score by contemporary composer-conductor Thomas Adès, The Dante Project – inspired by Dante’s The Divine Comedy and Vita Nuova – relates the story of a man’s journey through the afterlife – moving from the depths of Hell, to his ascent of the Mount of Purgatory and then to the heights of Paradise. It stars The Royal Ballet’s Edward Watson in his final principal role with the Company.

The Royal Ballet premiered Act I of this work, Inferno, at the Music Center of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, on 12th July 2019, during the Company’s US tour, as part of a mixed programme celebrating the collaborative works of Thomas Adès and Wayne McGregor. A co-production with the Paris Opera Ballet, the full ballet premiered in London on 14th October 2021, at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. The score was co-commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic – Music Director Gustavo Dudamel.

The Guardian describes The Dante Project as “bold, beautiful and utterly engaging”, and theartsdesk.com writes of it as “a towering achievement”. The London Magazine says that “The breadth of Adès’ new score is masterful and expansive”, and “the scale of Tacita Dean’s stage designs are monumental”. Lighting is by Lucy Carter and Simon Bennison, and the dramaturg is Uzma Hameed.

Edward Watson, trained at The Royal Ballet School, graduated into The Royal Ballet in 1994, and was promoted to Principal in 2005. His repertoire with The Royal Ballet includes major works by Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan, and previous roles created on him by Wayne McGregor include Symbiont(s), Qualia, Chroma, Infra, Limen, Carbon Life, Raven Girl, Tetractys, Woolf Works, Obsidian Tear and Multiverse. Among other roles which he created are Lewis Carroll/The White Rabbit in Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Leontes in The Winter’s Tale, and John Singer Sargent in Strapless. He has also appeared in works by a number of choreographers, including George Balanchine and Alexei Ratmansky.

Among the many awards which Edward Watson has received are the 2012 Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance, the 2015 Benois de la danse and Critics’ Circle Awards in 2001 and 2008. He was awarded an MBE in 2015 and appointed a Répétiteur of The Royal Ballet in 2020, a role which he will continue to perform.

Music Director Koen Kessels leads the Orchestra of The Royal Opera House – Concert Master Sergey Levitin – and the London Symphony Chorus – director Simon Halsey.

A full cast list can be seen on this link.

The Royal Ballet’s production of The Dante Project – recorded live at the Royal Opera Houseon 26th October this year – will be available to watch from 7.30pm BST on 20th December 2021 to 19th January 2022, and bookings can be made via this link.

Information sourced from The Royal Ballet programme notes

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Gomyo plays Shostakovich with Bychkov & Czech Philharmonic

Karen Gomyo – courtesy Askonas Holt

Violinist Karen Gomyo plays the Shostakovich Violin Concerto No 1 with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, under Music Director and Chief Conductor Semyon Bychkov, in a programme which includes a new work by Bryce Dessner and Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances.

Bryce Dessner © Anne Mie Dreves

The programme opens with the Czech premiere of Bryce Dessner’s orchestral composition Mari, which is dedicated to Maestro Bychkov, by whom the work was commissioned. Dessner, an American composer and guitarist who has a wide repertoire which ranges from rock to chamber, symphonic and film music, is described by NPR as “… a man who slips in and out of musical guises with disarming ease…” producing “…. gorgeous and full-hearted music”. He wrote Mari – named after the Basque goddess of the forests – during a stay on the Basque coast of France last year. The work had its world premiere in Zurich in June of this year, with Maestro Bychkov leading the Tonhalle Orchestra, and a performance with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London is scheduled for the early part of 2022.

Karen Gomyo © Askonas Holt

Karen Gomyo, praised by the Chicago Tribune as “…. a first-rate artist of real musical command, vitality, brilliance and intensity”, makes her debut with the Czech Philharmonic in this performance of the Shostakovich Violin Concerto. An established artist in North America, she has appeared with orchestras in the United States and Canada, and more recently in Australasia, Singapore, Tokyo, and across Europe. Ms Gomyo’s premiere performances include Matthias Pintscher’s Concerto No 2 Mar’eh with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington conducted by the composer, Pēteris Vasks’ Vox Amoris with the Lapland Chamber Orchestra led by John Storgårds, and Samuel Adams’ new Chamber Concerto with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra – a work written for her and commissioned by the CSO’s ‘Music Now’ series for their 20th anniversary.

Semyon Bychkov – Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic
© Petr Kadlec

Dmitry Shostakovich wrote his extremely challenging First Violin Concerto in A minor, Op 77 (99) in the years 1947 to 1948 – a time during which the composer was undergoing the harshest criticism of the then Stalinist government, for creating works which were considered too modern. Dedicated to violinist David Oistrakh, the concerto was, in the words of the composer, “in its character essentially more of a symphony for solo violin and orchestra”. Oistrakh himself likened its performance to that of a great Shakespearean role, putting “…. a great emotional and intellectual strain on the performer ….”, adding that it “…. offers enormous opportunities not only to demonstrate the violinist’s virtuosity, but above all to express the deepest feelings, thoughts and moods.” Shostakovich kept the concerto under wraps until seven years after he wrote it, and after Stalin’s death, Oistrakh premiered the work on 29th October 1955, with the Leningrad Philharmonic, led by Yevgeny Mravinsky.

Semyon Bychkov & the Czech Philharmonic © Petra Hajska

The final work on the programme is Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances, Op 45, written in 1940, by which time he was living in the United States. Although he never deviated from his Russian roots, nor lost his love for his home country and its traditions, he found himself unable to live with the regime established after Russia’s socialist revolution of 1917. Even though many of his compositions were written during the first half of the 20th century, he was greatly influenced by Tchaikovsky, and his works reflected the late Romantic style of the 19th century, as does this gorgeous set of Symphonic Dances, in which his love for Russia is evident, particularly in the first movement. This work – the last of his major compositions – was dedicated to conductor Eugene Ormandy who premiered it with the Philadelphia Orchestra on 3rd January, 1941.

Semyon Bychkov leads the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in works by Bryce Dessner, Shostakovich – violin soloist Karen Gomyo – and Rachmaninoff in the Dvořák Hall, at the Rudolfinum in Prague from 15th to 17th December.
Tickets may be booked online via the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra website.

Information sourced from:
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra programme notes
Artists’ websites
Shostakovich Violin Concerto No 1

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SFJAZZ announces a new app

Courtesy SFJAZZ

SFJAZZ has a new app, which means that members can watch fabulous performances from the SFJAZZ Center from home, or from anywhere in the world.

Available on AppleiOS, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android, Android TV and Roku, and open to members of SFJAZZ, these fully immersive digital concerts are filmed on SFJAZZ’s signature multi-cam HD video and state-of-the-art audio – they’re the nearest thing to actually being there.

The app will give you access to the weekly online concert series Fridays Live at 7.30 am (Pacific Time), or the Saturday Encore which is transmitted the following Saturday morning at 11.00 am (Pacific Time). As Herbie Hancock says: ”It’s the place to be”!  You’ll also have access to SFJAZZ Singles each Wednesday – which features a ‘single’ standout song from a recent Fridays Live concert. It’s hoped that these will pique your interest sufficiently to persuade you to join up and watch.

Membership of SFJAZZ ($5 monthly or $50 annually) will also entitle you to watch On-Demand concerts at a time which suits you – at a 50% reduction of the normal cost – as well as select pay-per-view concerts broadcast live from the SFJAZZ Center. All subscriptions provide direct support for the artists and for SFJAZZ.

Upcoming Fridays Live concerts include Dorado Schmitt & Django Festival All-Stars, Adam Shulman with A Charlie Brown Christmas, and Merry Christmas From José James.

Performances that are currently available On-Demand include Chester Thompson’s Gravy Train, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s 60th Anniversary Tour, New Works Reflecting the Moment from the SFJAZZ Collective, Martin Luther McCoy’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, and The Sound of Cuba with Jésus Díaz. There’s also Gerald Clayton, Edward Simon, Tammy L Hall and Justin Kauflin with Monk’s Birthday Celebration, Rhythmic Connections with Zakir Hussain, Eric Harland, Abbas Kosimov and Mark de Clive-Lowe, and Omar Sosa’s Motherland Journey.

Visit the SFJAZZ website to see which performances are available.

To enjoy these online performances, all you need to do is search for SFJAZZ on whichever of the devices listed above that you have, download the app, sign up to membership, and enjoy! Should you experience any technical difficulties, you can email digitalsupport@sfjazz.org for help.

Information sourced from SFJAZZ program notes

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