Duke Bluebeard’s Castle

BIRMINGHAM INTERNATIONAL CONCERT SEASON 2011/12

Fri 21 Oct 7:30pm at Symphony Hall

Philharmonia Orchestra
Esa-Pekka Salonen conductor
Sir John Tomlinson Bluebeard
Michelle DeYoung Judith
Juliet Stevenson narrator
Nick Hillel director

Debussy Prélude à L’Après-midi d’un faune 10’
Janáček Sinfonietta 23’
Bartók Duke Bluebeard’s Castle (semi-staged) 60’

Please note Measha Brueggergosman will be replaced by Michelle DeYoung.

Fresh from last year’s breathtaking Tristan und Isolde, Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia celebrate their return to Symphony Hall with the blazing fanfares of Janácek’s sunny Sinfonietta. But then we step into the darkness of Bluebeard’s castle for a world premiere production: a groundbreaking video installation transforms the Hall into the lair of one of classical music’s greatest villains. Sir John Tomlinson plays the formidable duke whose new bride discovers shocking secrets hidden behind seven doors, each evoked by Bartók’s spine-tingling score.

BBC Music magazine’s Editor, Oliver Condy, recommends tonight’s concert: “Bartók’s great psychological thriller is high up on my list of works that I’d encourage first-time opera-goers to give a try. A gripping evening awaits…” www.thsh.co.uk 

Article on Sir John Tomlinson, by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:
“It was growing up in the heart of industrial Britain which steered one of the great Wagnerians of our time to a career in music.” …

Read More:

http://www.birminghampost.net/life-leisure-birmingham-guide/birmingham-culture/music-in-birmingham/2011/10/21/taking-wagner-to-deeper-levels-65233-29622426/#ixzz1bSwH9m20

 

Article about the production by Jessica Duchen, Independent:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/classical/features/electronic-nightmares-on-bluebeards-battlements-2366466.html

 

Philharmonia players blog about Duke Bluebeard’s Castle:

http://philharmonia.co.uk/bartok/blog

The Making of Bartok’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle:

http://www.esapekkasalonen.co.uk/video/the-making-of-bartoks-duke-bluebeards-castle 

 

Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

Click:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2011/oct/24/philharmonia-salonen-bartok-review

…     “The parade of images – weeping walls, bloodstained jewels, luxuriant blooms and a final sad parade of the silhouettes of Bluebeard’s former wives – is fine as far as it goes, but entirely superfluous when the performance is as good as it was here. Salonen conjured every orchestral colour from the Philharmonia with tremendous panache – the huge C major climax at the opening of the fifth door was sumptuous – while DeYoung and Tomlinson focused the drama superbly, she a wonderful mix of naivety and obsession, he remarkable in his portrait of cruel implacability and sheer, despairing loneliness.”

 

Review by Elmley de la Cour, Birmingham Post:

Click:

http://www.birminghampost.net/life-leisure-birmingham-guide/birmingham-culture/music-in-birmingham/2011/10/28/review-duke-bluebeard-s-castle-philharmonia-orchestra-at-symphony-hall-65233-29664730/

…     “But musically it was excellent. Michelle DeYoung dealt nimbly with Judith’s declamatory lines.

John Tomlinson’s Hungarian sounded wonderful, and, shrouded in his cloak, was every inch the mysterious, tortured duke.

Esa-Pekka Salonen navigated clearly through the work’s abounding details, and the orchestra played well for him, particularly the phalanx of strings.”     …

 

Review by Christopher Thomas, SeenandHeard MusicWeb:

Click:

http://www.seenandheard-international.com/2011/10/28/triumphant-new-semi-staged-production-of-bartok%e2%80%99s-duke-bluebeard%e2%80%99s-castle/

…     “Nick Hiller’s production and dramatic visuals proved to be nothing short of a triumph, enthralling totally from the very start, whilst it is well nigh impossible to imagine a more chilling, atmospheric and powerful performance than that given by Sir John Tomlinson, Michelle DeYoung and the forces of the Philharmonia. With the production now set to go on tour, this is a Bluebeard not to be missed.”

Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde

Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde

(UK Premiere of Production with Visuals by Bill Viola)

Birmingham International Concert Season 2010/11

Thu 23 Sep 5:30pm at Symphony Hall

Philharmonia Orchestra
Esa-Pekka Salonen conductor
Gary Lehman Tristan
Violeta Urmana Isolde
Anne Sofie von Otter Brangäne
Matthew Best* King Marke
Jukka Rasilainen Kurwenal
Stephen Gadd Melot
Joshua Ellicott* Shepherd/Sailor
Darren Jeffery Helmsman
Philharmonia Voices
Bill Viola visual artist
Peter Sellars artistic collaborator

*Please note the change of cast from that originally advertised.

Wagner Tristan und Isolde 255’

There will be two 30 minute intervals and the concert will end at approximately 10.30pm.
Please note that due to video scenes with nudity, this performance is not recommended for under-14s.

Tristan und Isolde co-producers: Philharmonia Orchestra, Konzerthaus Dortmund and Lucerne Festival
In association with: Southbank Centre London and Symphony Hall, Birmingham
Also performed in: KKL, Lucerne (10 September), Konzerthaus, Dortmund (17 September) and Southbank Centre, London (26 September)

‘…The overall impact is shattering. A great occasion, no question.’ The Guardian
‘It could well be a very long time before something this great comes our way again.’ Los Angeles Times
‘One of the greatest experiences of my artistic life’ Esa-Pekka Salonen

This performance is, quite simply, an unmissable event that is one of the highlights of the UK cultural calendar: a partnership of three of the greatest artists of the present time – conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, artistic collaborator Peter Sellars and film artist Bill Viola. Set against the stunning backdrop of Viola’s film projections, this UK premiere promises to bring a new intensity to Wagner’s hymn to love and death.

Classic FM’s Anne-Marie Minhall, says of tonight’s recommended concert:
“Wagner’s tale of forbidden love was inspired by Arthurian legend. The composer himself said that the story is ’one of endless yearning, longing, the bliss and wretchedness of love…one sole redemption – death, finality, a sleep without awakening.’”

Click here to view a lecture by Bill Viola on Tristan und Isolde.

Watch a short film about the production, including exclusive behind the scenes footage.

Review by Ivan Hewitt, Telegraph:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/classicalconcertreviews/8023407/Tristan-and-Isolde-Philharmonia-Symphony-Hall-Birmingham-review.html

“If any opera aspires towards a purely abstract “theatre of the mind” it must surely be Wagner’s Tristan. This UK premiere of a collaboration between film-maker Bill Viola, director Peter Sellars and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen gets close to that ideal state, immersing us in a dream-like experience.

On the platform was the Philharmonia Orchestra, sounding almost uncannily brilliant and warm, and on absolutely top form.  […]

…All this might have been thought-provoking but chilling, had it not been for the passion and grandeur of the performance. Gary Lehman was a truly heroic Tristan, especially at the moment when he tears off his bandages in the ecstatic expectation of seeing Isolde. Violeta Urmana had the power to soar over the Philharmonia, and the range of tone to be stinging and proud in the first act and rapturously tender in the second. Anne Sofie von Otter I’ve never associated with Wagner, but she made a thrilling Brangane.”  …..

Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/sep/24/tristan-und-isolde-birmingham-review

…..”Salonen’s conducting was exceptional, not for its sense of line or febrile intensity, but for calm, almost nonchalant authority and musical clarity, combined with wonderfully sculpted playing from the Philharmonia. Gary Lehman and Violeta Urmana were not the most vocally alluring Tristan and Isolde, but in two taxing roles they were unfailingly secure and tirelessly confident. Anne Sofie von Otter contributed a elegant, calm Brangäne, Jukka Rasilainen a sturdy, forthright Kurwenal, and Matthew Best a noble and eloquent King Marke, his second-act monologue arguably the emotional fulcrum of the whole performance.”

Review by Andrew Clark, Financial Times:

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/ea0cbd62-c7fe-11df-ae3a-00144feab49a.html

…”The Birmingham performance had rare potency, thanks to the hall’s acoustical properties, Salonen’s clear-sighted vision and a cast that was able to focus on musical values. In the title roles, Gary Lehman and Violeta Urmana sang with the utmost refinement and conviction, while Anne Sofie von Otter made a regal Brangäne. 4 star rating”   Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2010.

Review by Lynne Walker, The Independent:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/classical/reviews/tristan-und-isolde-symphony-hall-birmingham-2091240.html

…”Once over the hurdle of what to focus on – the montage of imagery, the surtitles (situated impossibly high in the third act), the magnificent singers positioned around the hall, the doughty instrumentalists placed centre-stage – what really gripped one’s attention was the ebb and flow of Salonen’s conducting and the insightfulness of the orchestral playing. In the acclaimed acoustic of Symphony Hall, the surround-sound effect – enhancing lusty choral-singing and insightful orchestral playing – represented an electrifying aspect of an unforgettable evening.”    Copyright The Independent 2010

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

http://www.birminghampost.net/life-leisure-birmingham-guide/birmingham-culture/music-in-birmingham/2010/09/29/review-tristan-und-isolde-the-philharmonia-orchestra-at-symphony-hall-birmingham-65233-27364390/

…”and where Esa-Pekka Salonen shaped, balanced and guided his tremendous orchestra with all the sense of pace, direction and transparency he had unobtrusively summoned all evening.

We were left with a powerful stage-picture, too: Violeta Urmana’s Isolde subsiding with all the control and dignity of her entire performance, Gary Lehman’s Tristan lying dead at last after tribulations so powerfully expressed, and Matthew Best’s sorrowing, compassionate King Marke sadly bestowing one last blessing on these two people he had loved most in all the world.”