Posts Tagged ‘Filarmonica della Scala’

Chung to Conduct for Trump

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

Donald Trump delivers a joint address to Congress

Published: May 17, 2017

MUNICH — President Trump will next Friday (May 26) attend his first orchestra concert since taking office. Scheduled for 7 p.m. al fresco at the Teatro Antico in Taormina, Sicily, the program consists of Italian opera overtures and intermezzos:

Puccini – Madama Butterfly: Act III Sunrise
Rossini – Overture to L’italiana in Algeri
Rossini – Overture to Guillaume Tell
Verdi – La traviata: Act I Prelude
Verdi – Overture to La forza del destino
Mascagni – Cavalleria rusticana: Intermezzo

Myung-Whun Chung conducts the Filarmonica della Scala in what is an opening event of the 43rd G7 Summit, themed Building the Foundations of Renewed Trust. The hilltop Teatro Antico dates from the 3rd century B.C. and functions as a performing arts venue much of the year.

Photo © The White House

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Festtage 2012 as Barenboim Fiesta

Friday, April 13th, 2012

By Rebecca Schmid

The Staatsoper’s annual spring Festtage has become an even more distinguished event now that Daniel Barenboim serves as music director to La Scala in addition to his Berlin opera house. The festival, originally launched by the maestro in 1996 with Harry Kupfer’s Ring, features coveted soloists and premiere productions, as well as correspondingly pricey tickets. The past two seasons have revolved around the first two installments of Guy Cassiers’ new staging of Wagner’s epic cycle (a co-production with La Scala).

The festival has also briefly switched its focus to Berg, with new productions of Lulu this year and a Wozzeck last season as staged by Andrea Breth. The stage director’s cuts to Lulu compelled Barenboim, conducting the opera for the first time, to commission a new third act (more here). He admitted in a press conference that if he were a few years younger he might do the whole thing again with the Paris scene which Breth decided to scratch.

This year’s iteration, which took place from March 30-April 8, also featured the Filarmonica della Scala in concert. The maestro appeared on the podium or at the piano during every evening of the festival’s nine-day run after stepping for an ailing Maurizio Pollini to accompany René Pape in recital (medical testing has since revealed that there is no cause for alarm, and the pianist is scheduled to perform his Perspectives Pollini next season).

Barenboim revisited historically significant territory by conducting Alisa Weilerstein in Elgar’s Cello Concerto with the Staatskapelle at the Philharmonie, one of few times he has performed the work since the passing of his late ex-wife, Jacqueline Du Pré. Weilerstein made her debut under Barenboim in the concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic two seasons ago after only six months’ notice, subsequently traveling with the orchestra to Oxford for a performance that was broadcast live. The visceral intuition which the 30-year-old brings to this work made itself clear as she dug into Elgar’s opening chords, later producing pianissimi that floated like mist.

The Elgar was paired with Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony, an emotionally apt choice. While Elgar was lamenting the necessity of the First World War in his last completed large-scale work, Bruckner added direct references to Wagner in his grief over the composer’s death, “to commemorate my unattainable ideal in such a bitter time of mourning,” as he wrote. Yet Barenboim did not emphasize the heavy, Wagnerian qualities of the symphony, instead allowing its endless melodies to flow in elegiac rivulets.

Barenboim returned to the Philharmonie the following evening in an all-Spanish, or Spanish-inspired, program with the Filarmonica della Scala. He opened the program performing and conducting De Falla’s dusky Noches en los jardines España from the bench. The rapid, cascading arpeggios of the opening En el Generalife testified to an unblemished virtuosity, and he could have hardly found a better match than with the woodwinds of this orchestra—the warmest, most caressing section of its kind that I have ever heard in the Philharmonie. The strings also have a gleaming tone that vividly served De Falla’s tremoli, yet the mood could have loosened in intensity and become dreamier.

Ravel’s brief but richly orchestrated Rapsodie Espagnole, which inspired De Falla’s idealized portraits of his native Spain, followed as a mirage-like vision through the flamenco rhythms of the castanets, celeste, harp, and the clean brass section of the Filarmonica. The program continued with orchestral versions of pieces from Ravel’s cycle Mirroirs. Barenboim struck an ideal balance between the majestic and the ephemeral in Pavane pour une infante défunte, its wistful melodies once again emphasizing the elegance of the orchestra’s woodwinds. A spirited Alborado del gracioso yielded to a leisurely reading of Ravel’s Boléro, in which Barenboim intermittently leaned against the podium and simply nodded his head in rhythm, but the fiesta did not end there.

As an encore, he led the orchestra through excerpts from Bizet’s Carmen Suite and, upon receiving a standing ovation (a rare event in Berlin), the opera’s overture. At this point, the maestro walked serenely offstage while the audience clapped in rhythm, only to emerge gesturing toward the upper aisles behind a double-bassist. The Filarmonica captured every nuance of Bizet’s score with infectious energy. This was also a more lively crowd than the typical Berlin gathering. The Staatsoper has estimated that one-third of the Festtage audience comes from outside Germany, and there was a conspicuous representation of well-heeled Milanese. Sitting to my left was an Israeli couple on vacation in the German capital.

Next year will be even more momentous with the bicentenaries of Wagner and Verdi in the pipeline. The Festtage 2013 includes the first full performance of Cassiers’ Ring as well as Verdi’s Requiem with the orchestra and chorus of La Scala and soloists including the celebrated Italian mezzo Daniela Barcellona, Anja Harteros, René Pape, and Fabio Sartori.

Stay tuned for a review of the Berlin Philharmonic’s new DVD of Bach’s Matthäus-Passion in a semi-staging by Peter Sellars