Andris and Kristine in Concert

ANDRIS AND KRISTINE IN CONCERT

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Thursday 15 August 2013 at 7.30pm

Town Hall, Birmingham 0121 345 0603

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra 

Andris Nelsons  conductor

Kristine Opolais  soprano

Dvořák: Symphony No. 8 38′

Verdi: The Force of Destiny – Overture 7′

Verdi: Otello – Ave Maria • Willow Song 10′

Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin – Polonaise and Letter Scene 18′

Strauss II: Waltzes and Polkas 12′

Summer sunshine at the Town Hall! Symphonies just don’t get any happier than Dvorák’s Eighth, and it’s inspired Andris Nelsons to create a really joyous evening of music making. There’ll be folk dances, birdsong and village fiddles – and that’s before he even gets on to irresistible melodies of the Strauss family. And then he joins his wife, star soprano Kristine Opolais, for two big, heartfelt helpings of operatic passion. Feel the magic for yourself, as the CBSO returns to Birmingham’s most beautiful historic concert hall.

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Review by Diane Parkes, BehindTheArras:

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…     “Which made Opolais’ spine-tingling performance of Desdemona’s Willow Song and Ave Maria all the more impressive. 

Without costumes, set or fellow actors, Opolais seemed to become Desdemona, clinging to her last moments of life, struggling between faith in and fear of the husband who is about to murder her. Her stunning voice and heart-felt characterisation took us from Town Hall into her bedroom as she prepared to die. Hands held up in prayer, we really did feel she was begging for some form of salvation.

Opolais then turned her attention to the famous Letter Scene from Eugene Onegin, again immediately capturing the essence of the uncertain Tatyana as she vacillates between declaring or silencing her sudden rapture for Onegin. Swinging between hope of a happy future and fear of shaming herself, she verbally paces back and forth in indecision.

She was given more than sterling support by the orchestra under the baton of Nelsons…”     ….

*****

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Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian

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…     “Apparently, Nelsons is still recovering from the concussion he suffered three weeks ago in Bayreuth, where he was conducting Lohengrin, but no one would have guessed it from the way he launched into things here. The Eighth is usually regarded as Dvořák’s most genial symphony, but Nelsons’ account of it was thrilling – not a word I usually associate with the Czech composer. Fiercely dramatic in the opening movement, mysteriously veiled and remote in the second, and increasingly unbuttoned in the final two, it was teeming with vivid detail and distinctive ideas, such as the trumpet counter-melody underpinning the flute solo in the finale.

With Nelsons’ wife, the soprano Kristine Opolais, as the soloist, the second half wasn’t just a sequence of lollipops either. Her treatment of Willow Song and Ave Maria from the last act of Verdi’s Otello – slightly cool, contained and limpidly beautiful – was the perfect foil for a passionate account of the Letter Scene from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, which was more than enough to show how compelling Opolais’s Tatyana would be on stage, especially with Nelsons conjuring ever more colours and inflections from the orchestra.”     …

***** 

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Review by David Hart, Birmingham Post:

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…     “It was one of those occasions when everything seemed to gel. Andris Nelsons brought to Dvorak’s Symphony No.8 clarity, dynamic shading and a command of instrumental textures that resulted in a deliciously fluent, cogently shaped reading.

Orchestrally it was hard to beat, from the finely controlled string playing (especially in some teasingly quiet pianissimos), woodwind solos as pellucid as mountain air (no surprise that Nelsons just stood back to let flautist Marie-Christine Zupancic have her moment in the Scherzo trio), to the glowingly well-tempered brass.”     …

***** 

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Review by Douglas Cooksey, ClassicalSource (for this programme at the Proms concert on 17th August):

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…     “Impressive though the Dvořák had been, things moved up a notch with the arrival of Kristīne Opolais. The long introduction for woodwinds alone to Desdemona’s ‘Willow Song’ from Otello is a severe test of intonation. The quality of the CBSO winds, notably Rachael Pankhurst’s plangent cor anglais solo and her subsequent duet with oboist Jennifer Galloway perfectly set the scene for Opolais’s entry. This was securely pitched with lovely floated high notes. Opolais does not have the most powerful of voices but it is unfailingly grateful on the ear, pure velvet, and she sang with security and intelligence; there was eruptive drama too at the close of the ‘Willow Song’ and her farewell to her maid was utterly heartrending, whilst the succeeding ‘Ave Maria’ opened with the most veiled half-tone and had a quite exceptional tenderness. There was profound and prolonged silence at the close, no-one daring to break the spell.”     …

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“Opera’s double act: Kristine Opolais and Andris Nelsons”