Nice Ballet takes contemporary look at legend of Cassandra

Poster courtesy of Ballet Nice Méditerranée

Ballet Nice Méditerranée opens its 2022-23 season with Cassandra, choreographer Luciano Cannito’s contemporary take on the legend of the mythological heroine.

Cassandra is based on the novel of the same name by Christa Wolf – the novelist and essayist who is regarded as one of the best-known writers to emerge from East Germany. According to Greek mythology, Cassandra – daughter of Priam, King of Troy – possessed the gift of prophecy, but as she was cursed by the god Apollo, her true prophecies would never be believed. She foretold the dramatic episode of the Trojan horse – which led to the fall of the city of Troy at the hands of Odysseus and his Greek warriors – but she wasn’t taken seriously, and her warnings went unheeded. Wolf’s novel is a reimagining of the Trojan War through Cassandra’s memories and recollections, piecing together the story of the fall of her city.

Luciano Cannito’s ballet is set in a village in Sicily, and revolves around Cassandra’s prediction foretelling the effect of the introduction of television on the village, and the drama which will surely ensue. Because nobody takes her prediction seriously, she is powerless to prevent the village from completely losing its cultural identity. In his interpretation of Cassandra, Cannito has created a work which blends classical ballet and contemporary dance with that of Sicilian folklore. The original score is by Marco Schiavoni, with extracts from the music of Camille Saint-Saëns, Sergei Prokofiev and Elvis Presley.

Luciano Cannito has collaborated with Nice Ballet on several occasions. As a successful dancer, theatre director, artistic director and choreographer, he has led companies such as Balletto di Napoli, the Petruzzelli Theatre in Bari, Balletto di Roma and the Ballet Company of the Teatro San Carlo Opera House in Napoli. His works include Marco Polo, Amarcord, Five Seasons, Mare Nostrum and Barbie’s World, which have been performed at some of the world’s most prestigious theaters and festivals – including La Scala Theatre in Milan, the Lincoln Center in New York, The Opera of Rome, the Place des Artes in Montreal, the National Theatre of Ankara, the Bat Dor Dance Company of Israel, the Olimpico Theatre of Rome, the Teatro Regio of Parma, the National Opera Theatre of Tbilisi, the Estonian National Theatre and the Orange County Performing Center of Los Angeles.

Ballet Nice Méditerranée – directed by Eric Vu An – performs Cannito’s Cassandra at Nice Opera on 9th and 10th September. Tickets may be booked online via this link or by telephone at 04 92 17 40 79. For further information, visit the Opéra Nice website.

Information sourced from:
Nice Ballet programme notes
Legend of Cassandra
Luciano Cannito

This article first appeared in Riviera Buzz

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Gramophone’s ‘Orchestra of the Year Festival’ streams online

The Czech Philharmonic led by Semyon Bychkov © Petra Hajska

For the fifth consecutive year, Gramophone hosts its Classical Music Awards, during which the 2022 Orchestra of the Year will be announced. This evening, Gramophone’s Orchestra of the Year Festival will be streamed online on the magazine’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.

This category, which celebrates those ensembles which have recorded some of the finest performances in the classical repertoire, is the only one of the Classical Music Awards to be decided by the public. This year’s 10 nominees for Orchestra of the Year are the Bayerisches Staatsorchester, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, The Hallé, Les Siècles, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonia of London and the Vienna Philharmonic.

Les Siècles – courtesy Les Siècles

This list of nominees is derived from the degree to which each orchestra has impressed the editors and reviewers of Gramophone, and each of those selected has released what Gramophone describes as “…. magnificent and often thought-provoking new albums over the past 12 months”.

Previous winners of this illustrious award include the Minnesota Orchestra (2021), the Philadelphia Orchestra (2020), Hong Kong Philharmonic (2019) and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra (2018).

The online concert will include these performances:

Beethoven’s Symphony No 5 in C minor, op 67 by Les Siècles, led by François-Xavier Roth. Les Siècles and François-Xavier Roth record for Harmonia Mundi.

The Mahler Chamber Orchestra © Molina Visuals

Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 23 in A, K488 by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Leif Ove Andsnes who appears courtesy of Sony Classical.

Mendelssohn’s Symphony No 3 in A minor, Op 56 by the Czech Philharmonic, conducted by Semyon Bychkov. The Czech Philharmonic and Semyon Bychkov record for Pentatone.

Act 1 of Korngold’s Die tote Stadt. The Bayerisches Staatsorchester, with Jonas Kaufmann, Marlis Petersen, Jennifer Johnston and Andrej Filonczyk, directed by Simon Stone, and led by Kirill Petrenko. The Bayersiches Staatsorchester records for BSO Recordings.

The Budapest Festival Orchestra – courtesy Budapest Festival Orchestra

Symphony No 3 in F, Op 90 by Brahms, played by the Budapest Festival Orchestra under Iván Fischer who, with the BFO records for Channel Classics.

Elgar’s Variations on an Original Theme, ‘Enigma’, Op 36, with the Hallé Orchestra conducted by Sir Mark Elder. They record for The Hallé’s own label.

The third and fourth movements of Mahler’s Symphony No 1 – Feierlich und gemessen, ohne zu schleppen and Stürmisch bewegt – played by the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra with Klaus Mäkelä. The Oslo Philharmonic and Klaus Mäkelä record for Decca.

A work by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, led by Manfred Honeck. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Manfred Honeck record for Reference Recordings.

The concert will begin at 7.00 pm (BST), 8.00 pm (CET), 2.00 pm (EST), 11.00 am (PCT) and will be available to watch for 24 hours on the Gramophone’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Voting opens at noon on Friday, June 10th and remains live until 8.00 am on Monday, September 7th. For more information and details on how you can place your vote, visit the Gramophone website.

An added benefit of this year’s competition is that Gramophone has created dedicated playlists for each of the 10 nominees on Apple Music.

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Czech Philharmonic performs on Vltava River at Prague Sounds Festival

The Czech Philharmonic at the Prague Sounds festival © Daniel Vrabec

As part of the Prague Sounds Festival, and in celebration of the Czech Republic’s EU Presidency this year, the Czech Philharmonic, under Chief Conductor and Music Director, Semyon Bychkov, will appear in a programme of Czech music on a floating stage on the Vltava River in Prague on 2nd September.

They’ll play Dvořák’s Carnival Overture, Smetana’s Vltava and Janáček’s monumental Glagolitic Mass, regarded as one of the most powerful sacred compositions ever created. In this work they’ll be accompanied by soprano Evelina Dobračeva, alto Lucie Hilscherová, tenor Aleš Briscein, bass Jan Martiník and organist Daniela Valtová Kosinová, with the Prague Philharmonic Choir under the direction of choirmaster Lukáš Vasilek.

Antonín Dvořák’s Carnival Overture Op 92 was written in 1891. It’s a high-spirited piece, reflecting the tumult and festivity of a carnival, with barkers, vendors, boisterous crowds and even a gentler passage which Dvořák described as “a pair of straying lovers”. It was originally the second of a trio of concert overtures entitled Nature, Life and Love, premiered in its entirety in Prague in April, 1892, with the composer conducting. Dvořák subsequently separated the three pieces which he renamed In Nature’s Realm, Carnival and Othello.

Bedřich Smetana’s Vltava is the second movement of his symphonic suite, Má vlast (My Country). Depicting the flow of the Vltava River from its source in the mountains of the Bohemian Forest, through the Czech countryside to Prague, Vltava is an intensely patriotic work, celebrating the composer’s love of his homeland. Smetana completed it in 1874 and it was first performed on 4th April the following year, with Adolf Čech conducting the Orchestra of the Prague Provisional Theatre. The entire suite premiered at the Zofín Palace in Prague on 5th November, 1882.

The Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Leoš Janáček began his Glagolitic Mass shortly after his return from a visit to Great Britain in 1926. This cantata for soloists, choir, orchestra and organ began, in 1908, as a Latin setting of the Kyrie, Agnus and Credo for organ and chorus, with words dating from the 9th century as used in church services on 7th July, the feast day of St Cyril and St Methodius. Janáček, an atheist, chose not to use the traditional Latin setting, and instead used an Old Church Slavonic text (though it is actually a hybrid of the extinct language). The name Glagolitic is taken from the original Old Church Slavonic script, and as Janáček was a firm supporter of pan-Slavism, this mass has been viewed as a celebration of Slavic culture. The composer subsequently made a number of alterations to the work, and more were made when it was published after Janáček’s death in 1928.

Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Saint Jean de Luz

Prior to this performance in Prague, the Czech Philharmonic, led by Semyon Bychkov, opens a four-centre tour of summer festivals, with two performances in the Usher Hall at the Edinburgh Festival. The tour – which takes place from 20th to 29th August – also takes in appearances at the Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste at the Festival Ravel in Saint Jean de Luz, at the Kursaal as part of the Quincena Musical de San Sebastián, and at the Palacio de Festivales de Cantabria in the Festival Internacional de Santander. The tour programme features Dvořák’s Carnival Overture, Martinů’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra, Janáćek’s Glagolitic Mass and Mahler’s Symphony No 7.

Kursaal, San Sebastián © Fabrice Fouillet

The soloists in the Glagolitic Mass are supported in Edinburgh by the Edinburgh Festival Chorus (choirmaster Aidan Oliver), in Saint Jean by Orfeón Donostiarra (choirmaster José Antonio Sainz Alfaro), in San Sebastián by the Edinburgh Festival Chorus with choirmaster Aidan Oliver, and in Santander by Orfeón Donostiarra (choirmaster José Antonio Sainz Alfaro).

Bohuslav Martinů’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra H 292, was written in Switzerland in 1938. Lively and rhythmic, the opening movement is energetic and jazzy, followed by a tranquil slow movement, and the final movement returns to the busy cheerfulness of the first. It’s a concerto well suited to the skills of the internationally renowned pianists Katia and Marielle Labèque – described by the New York Times as “The best piano duo in front of an audience today”.

Palacio de Festivales de Cantabria, Santander

Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No 7 in E minor is the least known of his symphonies. Depicting a journey from darkness into light, it is sometimes referred to as Song of the Night. Mahler began writing this work in the summer of 1904, composing the second, third and fourth movements first. He experienced difficulty in composing the opening movement, however, and it wasn’t until his arrival at the Wörther See in June 1905 – where he had his summer residence at Maiernigg – that he found the inspiration for which he was searching. As he was being rowed across the lake, with the dipping of the oars into the water “… the introduction (or rather, its rhythm, its atmosphere) came to me”, he was quoted as saying later. The first and fifth movements of the symphony were completed at Maiernigg, and on 19th September, 1908, Mahler led the Czech Philharmonic in the premiere of the Symphony No 7 in Prague.

For further information on the individual programmes, venues and artists, visit the Czech Philharmonic website.

Information sourced from:

Czech Philharmonic programme notes

Dvorak – Carnival Overture

Smetana – Vltava

Martinu – Double Concerto

Janacek – Glagolitic Mass

Mahler – Symphony No 7

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