Dutch National Ballet stages works by four contemporary choreographers

Poster courtesy of Dutch National Ballet

The programme is called Dancing Dutch, and with it the Dutch National Ballet presents the works of four contemporary choreographers who celebrated their first successes in the Netherlands – Czechoslovakian Jiří Kylián, Hans van Manen – the most famous of Dutch choreographers – Briton David Dawson and Ukrainian-Dutch choreographer Milena Sidorova.

Jiří Kylián, regarded as one of the greatest choreographers of our time, stages Wings of Wax – a Premiere for the Dutch National ballet – and a work of which Algemeen Dagblad wrote that it “…contains so many beautiful things that actually you should see it again straight away”. Inspired by gravity, it was based on the Greek myth of Icarus whose father Daedalus made him a set of wings from feathers and wax to escape from King Minos of Crete. Despite his father’s warning that he should not fly too close to the sun, Icarus did just that, his wings melted, and he met his end.

Although this is the first time that Dutch National Ballet is performing a work by Kylian, he was instrumental in bringing the Netherlands dance scene to international success over 30 years with his input to the Nederlands Dans Theater. Kylián has set Wings of Wax to the music of two composers from the Baroque era – Heinrich Biber’s Rosary Sonata and J S Bach’s Goldberg Variations – one from the 20th century – composer John Cage’s Meditation Music – and the third movement of contemporary composer Philip Glass’s Fifth String Quartet.

Dutch choreographer Hans van Manen is internationally recognised as one of the grand masters of contemporary ballet, having created more than 150 works, all of which are distinctive by their clarity of structure and refined simplicity. His ballets are performed the world over, by some of the most eminent and esteemed ballet companies.

His Concertante is fascinating – contrasting as it does humour with aggression – creating a dynamic tension between four male and four female dancers. In every aspect, the work demonstrates the simplicity and musicality for which van Manen’s work is known. It is set to the Petite symphonie concertante by Swiss composer Frank Martin, who spent much of his life in the Netherlands.

Anima Animus is a work by the British award-winning choreographer David Dawson who has been an Associate Artist of the Dutch National Ballet since 2015 and is also a freelance choreographer. Commissioned by San Francisco Ballet in 2018, Anima Animus is a reflection of the contrast between opposites – anima being Carl Jung’s term for the feminine part of a man’s personality, and animus being the reverse. In this ballet, Dawson responds to the differences between light and dark, humanity and architecture, the individual and the group.

He’s set the work – a premiere for Dutch National Ballet – to a violin concerto by Italian conductor, composer and pianist Ezio Bosso – Principal and Resident Conductor of the Fondazione del Teatro Lirico Giuseppe Verdi in Trieste and Resident Conductor and Art Director of the StradivariFestival Chamber Orchestra.

The final work in the programme is Tenzij, the World Premiere of a ballet by Milena Sidorova. A Young Creative Associate of Dutch National Ballet, Milena Sidorova has created several successful works for the Company, and has set this ballet to music by Caroline Shaw, an American composer of contemporary classical music who is probably best known for the a cappella piece Partita for 8 Voices, for which she won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Music. Among several Grammy Awards, her most recent was the 2022 award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition for her Narrow Sea.

The Dutch National Ballet presents Dancing Dutch between 30th March and 9th April. Performances will take place at the Dutch National Opera & Ballet in Amsterdam, with the Dutch Ballet Orchestra conducted by Thomas Herzog. Herzog has been has been conductor of the traditional New Year’s Concert at the Basle Musiksaal since 2002, and has served as artistic director of the Basle Festival Orchestra for many years.

Further information and details of reservations can be found on the Dutch National Ballet website.

Information sourced from Dutch National Ballet programme notes

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Monte-Carlo Opera presents Donizetti’s comic opera – ‘La Fille du régiment’

Poster courtesy Monte-Carlo Opera

Light-hearted and frivolous, La Fille du regiment is one of Gaetano Donizetti’s major works, which Monte-Carlo Opera stages this week. With a cast headed by soprano Regula Mühlemann and tenor Javier Camarena, this new production for the Company is directed by Jean-Louis Grinda, and led by conductor Ion Marin.

As the operatic world moved from Rossini to Verdi, it was Donizetti who filled the gap, with operas such as Lucia di Lammermoor written in 1835, La Fille du régiment in 1840 and La favorite, also written in 1840. The libretto for the two-act La Fille du régiment was written by Jules Henry Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Jean-François Bayard. The opera premiered at the Opéra-Comique in Paris, on 11th February, 1840, and despite its popularity, the opera received mixed reviews.

Impression of a scene from the opera © Rudy Sambounghi

When it was adapted for Italian theatres, certain changes were made. It was popular at the time for sopranos to bask in the glory of spectacular vocal parts, and in cutting the role of Tonio, La figlia del regimento was very successful, even though it lost some of its lustre. It wasn’t until the mid 1960s that Tonio’s arias were reinstated when the opera was staged at Covent Garden, and a young tenor by the name of Luciano Pavarotti rose to international stardom. Since then, it has become necessary not only for a first-class soprano to star as Marie, but also for a fine tenor to take the role of Tonio.

The story of La fille du régiment tells of Marie who was found on a battlefield, and was raised as the ‘daughter’ of the 21st Regiment. Although her foster-father Sulpice decided that Marie had to marry a soldier from the Regiment, Marie fell in love with a Tyrolean peasant, Tonio.

Impression of a scene from the opera © Rudy Sambounghi

Caught up in the conflict between the French and Austrians, the Marquise de Berkenfield and her steward Hortensius come across the Regiment. The Marquise claims to be Marie’s aunt and, in order to provide the girl with a proper education and to fulfil her plans for Marie to marry Duke Scipio of Crakentorp, the Marquise forces Marie to leave not only her Regiment, but Tonio as well – who has enlisted so that he can marry her. The Regiment rushes in to see Marie and when the Marquise refuses to allow Tonio to marry Marie, he reveals that he knows that Marie is the Marquise’s illegitimate daughter. When Marie learns that the Marquise is in fact her mother, she agrees to marry the Duke, but is prevented from doing so by the Regiment. The Marquise ultimately decides that she cannot make her daughter unhappy, and gives her permission for Marie and Tonio to marry.

Following a recent recording of Mozart’s arias, Swiss soprano Regula Mühlemann has what BBC Music Magazine described as a voice that is “…. gently luminous and true in pitch, her singing of a scale ideal for this acoustic – yet she can pack an emotional punch”. She most recently appeared in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus at Vienna State Opera, in Orff’s Carmina Burana at Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and in Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem at Opéra de Monte-Carlo, Philharmonie de Paris, Tonhalle Zürich and the Konzerthaus Dortmund. Scheduled future performances include concerts in Bern and Lucerne, in recital at Carnegie Hall, and in Mozart’s Mass in C minor in Salzburg.

Bass-baritone Jean-François Lapointe takes the role of Marie’s foster-father, Sulpice. He has appeared on major European stages such as those in Paris, Vienna, Zurich, Barcelona, Madrid, Lisbon, Frankfurt, Berlin and Liège, as well as in America and Japan. He also regularly appears in concert, singing melodies as well as oratorios. Among his favorite parts is the title role in Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, which he has performed at the Opéra Royal de Wallonie, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and more recently at Teatro alla Scala, Milan.

Mexican tenor Javier Camarena was recently honoured by the prestigious International Opera Awards as Male Singer of the Year. Future performances include those at the Opera Gala at Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, as Don Ramiro in Rossini’s La Cenerentola at Teatro dell Opera di Roma and also in Barcelona, and the Duke of Mantua in Verdi’s Rigoletto at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Following the Metropolitan Opera’s production of L’Elisir d’Amore, the Observer wrote that it “… features the Mexican tenor at his absolute finest”.

Mezzo-soprano Marie Gautrot is the Marquise de Berkenfield. She has appeared in many of the major opera houses in France, including the Théâtre des Champs Elysées and the Opéra National de Paris. Ms Gautrot has most recently seen with the Opéra Royal de Wallonie – Liège in Montpellier as Madame de Quimper-karadec in Offenbach’s La vie parisienne, and A Night at the Café-concert in Palazzetto Bru Zane in Italy. Following her appearance in Offenbach’s The Fairies of the Rhine, Opera magazine wrote: “Here is a real dramatic mezzo voice, as the French repertoire needs it: hot, striking in the high, sound in the bass, capable of vehemence as well as softness”.

Also in the cast are Rudolph Briand as Hortensius, Jean-François Vinciguerra as Scipio, Benoît Gunalons is the notary and Nicolo La Farcical is a farmer.

Ion Marin © Marina Bourdais

Ion Marin is one of few conductors to lead major symphonic and operatic orchestras. He has conducted nearly all the great European orchestras, including the Berliner Philharmoniker, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Orchestre national de France, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and St Petersburg Philharmonic. He also appears regularly as conductor of the NHK Symphony and Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra in Japan, and is a frequent guest at the world’s major opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Bayerische Staatsoper and Opéra national de Paris.

Maestro Marin leads the soloists, the Chorus of the Monte-Carlo Opera (Director Stefano Visconti) and the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra in four performances of La Fille du régiment between 24th and 30th March. For further information and details of ticketing, visit the Monte-Carlo Opera website.

Information sourced from:

Monte-Carlo Opera programme notes

Artists’ websites

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Orchestre de Paris tours North America

L’Orchestre de Paris en répétition générale dirigé par Klaus Makela le 09 juillet 2020. Philharmonie de Paris.

The Orchestre de Paris and Music Director Klaus Mäkelä are about to undertake a tour of North America, performing works by Stravinsky, Debussy, Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev, with young South Korean pianist Yunchan Lim as soloist.

This will be the first North American tour by the Parisian Orchestra since Christoph Eschenbach led its performances there in 2003, and the first since Mäkelä took the helm in 2021. It also marks Mäkelä’s debut at Carnegie Hall, and further performances will take place in Boston, Ann Arbor and in Montreal.

The tour features the music which was written for the Paris premieres of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and The Firebird, and for Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun – all staged by Serge Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes. Also included in the programme are the Piano Concerto No 2 by Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No 3.

The Orchestre de Paris and Klaus Mäkelä will shortly be releasing on the Deccca/Universal label the second volume of music of the Ballets Russes, which concludes a cycle spanning more than two years, during which they have performed this repertoire at the Philharmonie de Paris, as well as on tour in Europe, Japan, at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and now in the United States and Canada.

The performance at Carnegie Hall is part of the festival Fall of the Weimar Republic: Dancing on the Precipice which began towards the end of January and continues throughout May. This festival is described by Carnegie Hall as “a powerful exploration of one of the most complex and consequential chapters in modern human history”, and programmes will feature the diverse styles of the time, of which Prokofiev and Stravinsky were part.

Alongside his role as Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris, Mäkelä is Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Oslo Philharmonic – a role he’s held since 2020 – and as Artistic Partner to the Concertgebouworkest since 2022, he will become its Chief Conductor in 2027.  As a cellist, he partners with members of the Oslo Philharmonic, the Orchestre de Paris and Concertgebouworkest for occasional programmes, and each summer performs at the Verbier Festival in chamber music concerts with fellow artists.

Yunchan Lim became the youngest person ever to win gold at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in June 2022. Since then, his rise to international fame has been impressive. Marin Alsop, conductor of the 2022 Cliburn Final said, “Yunchan is that rare artist who brings profound musicality and prodigious technique organically together.” Noting that Yunchan Lim’s performance of the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No 3 was the defining moment of the competition, Seen and Heard International wrote that “The applause that followed was endless: a star had emerged before our eyes”. It has been listed as one of the Top 10 Classical Music Performances of 2022 by The New York Times.

Yunchan Lim’s engagements across North America, Europe and Asia include performances with the New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo philharmonics, the Baltimore Symphony and Orchestre de Paris, as well as festival appearances at Aspen, Bravo! Vail, and Ravinia, and a number of recitals such as those at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Wigmore Hall, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Suntory Hall and Seoul Arts Center.

Klaus Mäkelä and the Orchestre de Paris appear at the following venues:

The Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor on March 14th
Debussy – Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
Rachmaninoff – Piano Concerto No 2 (soloist Yunchan Lim)
Stravinsky – The Firebird

Carnegie Hall in New York City on March 16th
Stravinsky – The Firebird
Stravinsky – The Rite of Spring

Symphony Hall in Boston on March 17th
Debussy – Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
Prokofiev – Piano Concerto No 3 (soloist Yuncha Lim)
Stravinsky – The Firebird

Place des Arts in Montreal on March 19th
Debussy – Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
Rachmaninoff – Piano Concerto No 2 (soloist Yunchan Lim)
Stravinsky – The Firebird

For information on reservations visit the websites of the venues concerned.

Information sourced from:

Orchestre de Paris programme notes

Carnegie Hall

Artists’ websites

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Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo

Poster courtesy of Festival Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo

The Festival Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo, created in 1970 at the instigation of Princess Grace of Monaco, has been presided over by HRH the Princess of Hanover since 1984. This year, as in those past, a wide range of performances and artists is represented, giving many lovers of the arts some splendid entertainment. The Artistic Director of the Festival is Bruno Mantovani.

The Festival starts on 13th March with a concert in the Église Saint-Charles by saxophonist Sandro Compagnon and the Ensemble Gilles Binchois, performing a programme of contemporary and 15th century music. There’s a programme of works by Gustav Mahler, featuring a chamber version of his Song of the Earth – this one played by Het Collective, led by mezzo-soprano Lucile Richardot and tenor Stefan Cifolelli. There are two recitals by Quatuor Modigliani, performing the music of Schubert and Mendelssohn, and two performances by the Insula Orchestra, conducted by Laurence Equilbey, with music by Schubert and Mozart.

Ensemble TM+, with mezzo-soprano Pauline Sikirdji and tenor Benjamin Alunni, led by composer and music director Laurent Cuniot, plays one of his compositions, and the list of performances also includes one of Baroque pieces by Ensemble Unisoni with soprano Marion Tassou and flautist Gwénaël Bihan. Quatuor Parisii performs an inviting Concert by Candlelight, featuring violinists Arnaud Vallin and Florent Brannens, violist Dominique Lobet and cellist Jean-Philippe Martignoni.

An interesting evening features a Chamber Opera by Sophie Lacaze titled The Boundless Stuff of Dreams. This co-production by Ensemble Orchestral Contemporain, with Clermont Auvergne Opéra and the Belgian Festival Ars Musica, is a world premiere, led by Bruno Mantovani with mezzo-soprano Els Janssens, tenor Xavier de Lignerolles and baritone Romain Dayez.

Of the non-musical offerings is a film called The Salt of the Earth, on the life and work of photographer Sebastião Salgado, who has spent forty years documenting societies in hidden corners of the world.

The fun part of the Festival this year is a family concert given by The Amazing Keystone Big Band featuring the “Jazz” Carnival of Animals. This is an adaptation of the Camille Saint-Saëns work by Bastien Ballaz, Jon Boutellier, Fred Nardin and David Enhco.

The major concerts of the Festival include an evening of music by Richard Strauss – featuring his Four Last Songs – by soprano Ruzan Mantashyan, with the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra, led by Fabien Gabel. In another concert by the Philharmonic, Music Director Kazuki Yamada leads the Orchestra in Music for violin and orchestra, Op. 4, by Rudi Stephan, with violinist David Lefèvre, followed by Mahler’s Song of the Earth, featuring soloists Marie-Nicole Lemieux, contralto, and tenor Pene Pati.

The closing work of the Festival is Opera Night, a co-production of Opéra de Monte-Carlo and Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo. Their Master’s Voice is billed as a “duel of genres”, in which mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli and actor John Malkovich are accompanied by Les Musiciens du Prince – Monaco.

The Festival Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo takes place in a variety of venues between 13th March and 7th April. For further information, including details of ticketing, visit the Monte-Carlo Opera website.

Information sourced from Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo programme notes

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