Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Germany’s culture minister, the estimable Monika Grütters, has said her government will work in Brussels to find a solution that will prevent the abolition of the European Union Youth Orchestra. Ms Grütters is politically and personally close to Chancellor Merkel. The Brussels culture commissioner Tibor Navracsics has suddenly said he does not rule out the possibility of a new funding application from EUYO. The sands may be shifting. Meanwhile, Tibor Navracsics has received ths letter from the orchestra of a Scala Milan: Although the Filarmonica della Scala is a self-supporting organisation without public funding, we are all deeply concerned about what is happening to the European Youth Orchestra; not only in terms of the cultural and symbolic value that the orchestra has for many young people within the EU but also in the light of our common history as in 1976 the initial project of the youth symphonic orchestra was the brainchild of Claudio Abbado who was also the founder of the Filarmonica della Scala. Therefore, we have two valid reasons for supporting the EUYO: the first being that Italy has played a crucial part in this project and we should not forget Claudio Abbado’s role in making unparalleled music as well as putting music at the heart of the life of people and institutions alike. The second being that today’s European Union of bureaucrats without vision is very far from the ideals upon which it was founded. The European Union Youth Orchestra still stands as one of our most important ambassadors, a potent symbol of union. The message of hope, community spirit and participation that involves more than 160 young people from the EU is priceless. This is part of the history, identity and cultural growth of a community of peoples.
The are bringing back a well-worn production to fit a new star. Full details of La Scala’s new season, announced this morning, below: ALEXANDER PEREIRA: THE 2016/2017 SEASON The opening of the 2016/2017 Season with the first version of Madame Butterfly, in the wake of Turandot and La fanciulla del West, marks a vital step in the Puccini project that is so dear to Riccardo Chailly, who on 1 January 2017 will take up his appointment as Music Director, confirming the plan to bring back to Piermarini’s Theatre the works that had their first ever performances here. It is directed by Alvis Hermanis, who is familiar to La Scala fans for two magnificent and very different shows, Die Soldaten and I due Foscari, and the leading lady Maria José Siri is a new and extraordinarily talented voice alongside Bryan Hymel’s Pinkerton. The televising of the event marks 40 years of collaboration between La Scala and the RAI since their partnership in 1976 with Otello conducted by Carlos Kleiber. 2017 opens with three major Verdi productions. Don Carlo returns in the version in five acts that has not been performed at La Scala since the edition conducted by Claudio Abbado 40 years ago. Myung-Whun Chung, a noted authority on Verdi, will conduct a fine cast, of whom we have to mention at least Ferruccio Furlanetto, Krassimira Stoyanova and Francesco Meli. Directed most efficaciously by the great Peter Stein, it translates all the dryness of the signature dramaturgy. Zubin Mehta will conduct Falstaff in the staging by Damiano Michieletto set in Casa Verdi: a decidedly Milanese production with Ambrogio Maestri in the role he is by now synonymous with. La Traviata will be back in March with the lavish staging designed by Liliana Cavani in 1990, with an exceptional protagonist, Anna Netrebko, in the prime of her artistic and interpretative maturity. And it will be the first time conducting Verdi at La Scala for Nello Santi, repository and custodian of the most authentic traditions of Italian melodrama: in October he will also be conducting the revival of Nabucco in Daniele Abbado’s show. Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg by Wagner sets us off on a journey through the musical culture of German Romanticism, which pops up during the Season with two other titles: Hänsel und Gretel and Der Freischütz. Directed by Harry Kupfer, an artist who is woven into the tapestry of German theatre, with Daniele Gatti on the podium, who has already conducted two productions with this title to great acclaim. Michael Volle is simply the finest living interpreter of Sachs. While in 2016, with La cena delle beffe, we brought Verismo back to La Scala, our mission to re-appropriate the Italian repertoire continues now with bel canto. April will see the staging of Anna Bolena with a very young leading lady who comes from our Academy, Federica Lombardi, conducted by Bruno Campanella, who knows Italian melodrama of the early 1800s better than most. And in 1817 Rossini presented The thieving Magpie at La Scala: a masterpiece of the semiseria genre that returns with a great Rossini conductor, Riccardo Chailly, the debut at La Scala of the Oscar-winning director Gabriele Salvatores, and a perfect cast of actor-singers. One of the finest baritones of our time, Thomas Hampson, plays a Don Giovanni torn between vitality and disillusionment in the revival of the staging by Robert Carsen, conducted by Paavo Järvi, whose Mozart interpretation won me over in Vienna. The revival of Franco Zeffirelli’s historic Bohème, then, is the occasion of a La Scala debut for one of the soprano revelations of recent years, Sonya Yoncheva. On the podium will be Evelino Pidò, who comes from our orchestra, but despite his brilliant international career has conducted only a performance of Rigoletto at La Scala before now. The twentieth anniversary of the death of Giorgio Strehler will be marked by performing one of his most magical shows, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, conducted by the person who held him at his baptism in Salzburg in 1965: Zubin Mehta. Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel is the Academy project this year: conductor Marc Albrecht and director Sven-Eric Bechtolf will work together for months with the young artists to create a performance that is up to La Scala standards in all respects. One of the most cherished programmes the Orchestra is engaged in is the formation of an ensemble playing historical instruments: the latest step on this path is Handel’s Tamerlano, which brings one of Italy’s finest directors, Davide Livermore, to La Scala for the first time, with extraordinary singers such as Plácido Domingo and Bejun Mehta. Another important date with directing is Der Freischütz, staged by Matthias Hartmann, the former director of the Burgtheater in Vienna, and conducted by Myung-Whun Chung. To conclude the Season, we are presenting the world premiere of the new opera by Salvatore Sciarrino, Ti vedo, ti sento, mi perdo, directed by Jürgen Flimm, who is bound to the Italian composer by a friendship that strengthens their artistic affinity. It is conducted by the young Maxime Pascal, founder of an orchestra dedicated to contemporary music in Paris. The Ballet Season, which is the first one for Director Mauro Bigonzetti, is the first step along a path of progression for the Corps de Ballet of La Scala. The titles increase from six to seven, in addition to the Ballet School show, and for the second year in a row, Opening Night brings another first, Coppélia by Bigonzetti with Roberto Bolle. The historical choreographies of Balanchine, Fokin, Tetley and MacMillan are bolstered by the innovation of Eugenio Scigliano, and for the first time a piece choreographed by artists from the Corps de Ballet, who are engaged in an unprecedented challenge. Also returning is Swan Lake by Alexei Ratmansky, an artistic reconstruction of the choreography of Petipa and Ivanov. There is a considerable element of pride in the quality of the music: the ballets will be conducted by maestros such as Zubin Mehta, Paavo Järvi, Michail Jurowski, Patrick Fournillier, Felix Korobov and David Coleman. The concert programme includes the greatest living conductors. Riccardo Chailly will be on the podium for two evenings of the Symphony Season, Verdi’s Requiem in October, and the concert to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Arturo Toscanini on 25 March 1867. The Symphony Season also sees the return of legends such as Christoph von Dohnányi (who also conducts the Christmas Concert), Georges Prêtre and Bernard Haitink; while for the Extraordinary Concerts, we will listen to Mariss Jansons with the Bayerischer Rundfunk. Finally, we are delighted to welcome Riccardo Muti back to La Scala. He returns with two concerts with the Chicago Symphony, to conduct once again in the Theatre that he was Musical Director of for 19 years. Completing the programme are singing recitals, including some of the most celebrated voices on the international scene. One of the projects dearest to my heart is the “Great Shows for Children” programme, which next year, too, will bring tens of thousands of kids and their parents to La Scala to discover operas of the great repertoire in shortened form and featuring the musicians of the Academy. Added to the revival of Cinderella for Children is Il ratto dal serraglio (The Abduction from the Seraglio) by Mozart, in Italian and coinciding with the complete edition in the Opera Season, and five concerts preceded by an introduction for children. See you in your Theatre. Alexander Pereira
The European Union Youth Orchestra was the brainchild of Claudio Abbado, a means of bonding young musicians from different countries. In almost 40 years it has helped 3,000 musicians to find their voice. The EUYO’s Honorary Patrons include heads of Government of all 28 member states, as well as the President of the European Commission and the President of the European Parliament. Today, these worthies abolished the orchestra. UPDATE: We’ve been informed that the member governments are each prepared to continue their national subsidy. But the EU Commission withdrew its support. The resistance is organising. First responses: Sir John Tusa, Co-Chair said: “For 40 years the EUYO has been the musical expression of European unity, artistic collaboration and partnership. It is a tragedy that the European Community seems no longer to value such work as a key part of the European project.” Ian Stoutzker, CBE, Co-Chair, said: “I and others became Trustees in 2014 with the sole aim of helping the EUYO to fulfil its mission at the highest level. Recent critical acclaim suggests that we are on our way. Should the Orchestra be abandoned at this point by the EU, the European Union will have scored a spectacular own-goal.” Marshall Marcus, CEO of the European Union Youth Orchestra said: “If the EU is not able to help fund its own youth orchestra, an orchestra which is the only organisation in the world that recruits and brings together young people every year from all 28 EU member states in support of the ideals of the Union, then the Orchestra will cease to exist. A sad day for the EU”. If you have personal experience of playing in the orchestra, now is the time to speak out. UPDATE: What else you can do.
My admiration for conductor Andris Nelsons continues to increase as I see more of his work. He is passionate, has great eye contact with his players, and seems to care deeply about the results achieved. In this DVD recording we get to listen to the amazing Fifth symphony by Gustav Mahler And also Selected Songs from ‘Des Knaben Wunderhorn’ Performed by the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, and with Matthias Goerne, Baritone. The selections are: Mahler: Symphony No. 5 Rheinlegendchen (Des Knaben Wunderhorn), with Matthias Goerne (baritone) Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen (Des Knaben Wunderhorn) Das irdische Leben (Des Knaben Wunderhorn Urlicht (orig. in Des Knaben Wunderhorn) Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt (Des Knaben Wunderhorn) Revelge (Des Knaben Wunderhorn) Der Tambourg’sell (Des Knaben Wunderhorn) Andris Nelsons conducted the Lucerne Festival Orchestra for the third time in August 2015, the orchestra’s second summer without founder and guiding spirit Claudio Abbado. The first half of his concert was already a highlight: the baritone Matthias Goerne seemed completely at home in a selection of songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn by Mahler. His warm, dark voice allows him to capture the somber and tragic atmosphere of this music like no one else. The singer’s voice captures the work’s melancholy and nocturnal moods, where one can directly experience how an artist of this caliber can bring music to a high level of perfection. See for yourself what I mean via a video highlight of this amazing music:
Conductor Jaap Van Zweden has recently been named as the next conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. This recording, however, is Maestro Van Zweeden’s most recent recording with his current orchestra, the Dallas Symphony. Performed by Kelley O’Connor (mezzo-soprano), with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Women of the Dallas Symphony Chorus and the Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas The recording is the seventh by Jaap van Zweden and the Dallas Symphony available on the DSO Live label. Of the performance, Scott Cantrell of The Dallas Morning News said, “Jaap van Zweden commanded the piece both intellectually and viscerally, and the orchestra played stunningly… The finale was sheer magic”. Here is Claudio Abbado conducting the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in the Symphony number 3 by Gustav Mahler:
We hear that Lucas Macias Navarro has been named assistant conductor of the Orchestre de Paris, part of Daniel Harding’s new team. The appointment has yet to be officially announced. Lucas used to be principal oboe for Claudio Abbado in the Lucerne Festivsal Orchestra.