Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis

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Saturday 12 October 2013 at 7.30pm

Symphony Hall, Birmingham +44 (0)121 345 0600

Ex Cathedra

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Jeffrey Skidmore  conductor

Sophie Bevan  soprano

Jennifer Johnston  mezzo

Andrew Tortise  tenor

Roderick Williams  bass

Beethoven: Missa Solemnis 81′

Beethoven laboured for nearly four years to complete his Missa Solemnis,   and nothing he composed surpasses it for scale, sincerity or sheer vision. No   single performance can capture every aspect of this work, but under Jeffrey   Skidmore, Ex Cathedra and a team of first-rate soloists will surely come closer   than most to realising Beethoven’s wish that this music should come ‘from the   heart, that it may go to the heart’.

www.cbso.co.uk

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Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “Jeffrey Skidmore and his Ex Cathedra (fully expanded) were joined by the CBSO in a fluent, natural account in which the composer’s cruel demands both on singers and players were so expertly assimilated into Beethoven’s confrontation with God. Beethoven takes no prisoners (all the sounds were trapped in his head by this time of his life), and Skidmore and company responded unflinchingly and devotedly.

There were two special things in this performance: Skidmore’s thoughtful and appreciative programme-notes which set the context, and the welcome prominence given to the organ (the excellent Alexander Mason), an element which is so often reduced to virtual nothingness, almost as an embarrassment; it is not, and Beethoven notated its part assiduously.

As we always confidently expect from the Ex Cathedra, the chorus was well-shaped and attentive.”     …

Wagner’s Ring: Die Walküre

Wagner’s Ring: Die Walküre

Birmingham International Concert Season 2011/12

Part of Symphony Hall 21st Anniversary Festival… more events…

Part of Birmingham International Concert Season 2011/12… more events…

Saturday 30 June

Symphony Hall

Symphony Hall logo
 

Opera North
Alwyn Mellor Sieglinde
Annalena Persson Brunnhilde
Erik Nelson Werner Siegmund
Béla Perencz Wotan
Katarina Karnéus Fricka
Clive Bayley Hunding
Katherine Broderick Helmwige
Meeta Raval Ortlinde
Miriam Murphy Gerhilde
Jennifer Johnston Waltraute
Madeleine Shaw Siegrune
Catherine Hopper Rossweisse
Antonia Sotgiu Grimgerde
Emma Carrington Schwertleite
Richard Farnes conductor
Dame Anne Evans artistic consultant
Peter Mumford concert staging and lighting/projection design

Erik Nelson Werner replaces Jeffrey Lloyd Roberts in the role of Siegmund.

Wagner Die Walküre  

This concert has a running time of c. 5 hours 30 minutes including two intervals:

Act 1: 66’

Interval 30’

Act 2: 94’

Interval 60’

Act 3: 73’

Opera North is joined by an outstanding international cast for the second instalment of their four-year Ring cycle. In Die Walküre the focus shifts from the politics of the gods to human passion. As the epic saga unfolds, we meet the ill-fated children of the gods, discover the magical sword that will forever shape their destiny, and encounter the fearsome Valkyries whose legendary ride has never sounded more exciting than here in its original context.

Concert performance sung in German with English surtitles. Please note surtitles may not be visible from every seat. Symphony Hall is a large hall and surtitles can be harder to read from the Grand Tier. To be sure of best visibility, book seats in centre stalls, centre circle or centre upper circle or check with box office before booking.

One of a series of Wagner’s greatest operas, performed in the space of 6 months as part of Symphony Hall’s 21st Anniversary Festival.
The Royal Opera: Die Meistersinger – Wednesday 11 January
Tristan und Isolde – Saturday 3 March
Good Friday: Gergiev conducts Parsifal – Friday 6 April

www.thsh.co.uk

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Blog post by RestrictedView, Recitative:

Click here for full review

…     “That Wotan was quite a revelation. Hungarian bass-baritone Béla Perencz had a large, resonant voice and bags of dramatic oomph to lavish on the role. His anger in Act 3 was as formidable as his farewell was touching. Katarina Karnéus started out seeming slightly underpowered as Wotan’s hectoring but entirely reasonable wife, Fricka. However, by the time of her hymn she was launching a fearless attack on him, relishing the drama of the confrontation, and thoroughly enjoying her triumph over Brünnhilde. Clive Bayley had the equal measure of Hunding’s bluster and danger, using a voice of quite astonishing size to project it to the furthest reaches of Symphony Hall (and had a door been left open probably most of the West Midlands). Siegmund was Erik Nelson Werner and it was a joy to have the lead principals completed by so strong a performance.”     …

 

Review by Diane Parkes, BehindTheArras:

Click here for full review

…     “Wagner’s music was confidently handled by the Orchestra of Opera North and conducted by Richard Farnes.

And all of the singers rose to the challenge. Annalena Persson made a very human Brunnhilde, the Valkyrie who loses her divinity after understanding love for the first time and disobeying her father. We saw her defiant and then humble as she tried to appeal to the better nature of her father Wotan (Bela Perencz) but also very gentle and caring when she entered the world of mortals.”     …

 

Blog review by BH, Larkreviews:

Click here for full review

…     “The second instalment of Opera North’s semi-staged Ring Cycle came to Birmingham to a rapturous ovation. It was well deserved. In over half a century of Walküre performances, I can’t recall a line up of Valkyries as effective as that which hit us at the start of Act 3. Not only were the individual singers exemplary, but their combined strength, within the Symphony Hall acoustic, was thrilling in a way that is rarely true of the opera house.”     …

 

Reviews for performances elsewhere…

Review by Tim Ashley, Guardian (for performance at Leeds Town Hall)

Click here for full review

Review by Rupert Christiansen, Telegraph (for performance at Leeds Town Hall)

Click here for full review

Review by Ron Simpson, WhatsOnStage (for performance at Leeds Town Hall)

Click here for full review

Review by Graham Rickson, TheArtsDesk (for performance at Leeds Town Hall)

Click here for full review

Review by Sarah S Scott, ChronicleLive (for performance at Sage Gateshead)

Click here for full review

Wagner’s Ring: Das Rheingold

Birmingham International Concert Season 2010/11

Fri 24 Jun 7:30pm at Symphony Hall

Opera North
Richard Farnes conductor
Peter Mumford concert staging and lighting design
Dame Anne Evans artistic consultant

Michael Druiett Wotan
Nicholas Folwell Alberich
Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke Loge
Yvonne Howard Fricka
Andrea Baker Erda
James Creswell Fasolt
Gregory Frank Fafner
Giselle Allen Freia
Peter Wedd Froh
Derek Welton Donner
Richard Roberts Mime
Jeni Bern Woglinde
Jennifer Johnston Wellgunde
Sarah Castle Flosshilde

Nicholas Folwell replaces Joachim Seipp, Jeni Bern replaces Meeta Raval.

Wagner Das Rhinegold 150’

There will be no interval and the concert will end at approximately 10pm.

A collaboration of Opera North, The Sage Gateshead and Symphony Hall, Birmingham.
The Opera North Future Fund is a major supporter of Das Rheingold.

Opera North is now recognised as the most interesting UK opera company outside of London’ Financial Times

‘Whichever other Ring cycles you go to, Opera North’s will, I’m sure, offer rich musical and dramatic rewards’ The Spectator

‘Richard Farnes’s superb, impassioned conducting leaves you in no doubt that you are hearing a masterpiece, and his excellent orchestra respond magnificently to his inspirational baton, whetting the appetite for his Ring.’ Sunday Times

Das Rheingold is the first part of Wagner’s Ring, one of the world’s greatest musical epics: a brooding mythological tragedy of love, power and vengeance. There is no greater challenge for any opera company, and this new production by Opera North is their first. Artistic Consultant Dame Anne Evans mentors a cast that blends artists experienced in this repertoire with the best of new talent. Each of the four parts will be performed at Symphony Hall over the next four years. Join us for an unforgettable journey through one of the world’s greatest sagas.

‘Even more admirable is the quality of the performance. Farnes has done many fine things at Opera North, but his pacing of this 150-minute sweep of music, his care about balance (not a single vocal line is overwhelmed, even in this opulent acoustic) and the sumptuousness of the orchestral textures – all this constitutes a massive achievement’ The Times 5* review of Das Rheingold

‘All of the admirably committed Opera North cast are adept at conveying character by gesture and expression and the semi-staging works well for anyone not seeking an ‘interpretation’.’ What’s On Stage 4* review of Das Rheingold

Watch Richard Farnes discuss Wagner, tabloid sensations, the Ring cycle and Das Rheingold

Read Richard Farnes’s blog introduction to Das Rheingold

Read Michael Druiett’s blog on taking on the role of Wotan.

Sung in German with English surtitles.

RT @Opera_North Das Rheingold will be broadcast live on @bbcradio3 tonight [1st July]  from 7.20pm, listen in here http://bbc.in/kKPICn #ONRing

Blog Review by Intermezzo:

http://intermezzo.typepad.com/intermezzo/2011/06/das-rheingold-opera-north-birmingham.html?cid=6a00d834ff890853ef01543347cfbb970c

…     “Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke’s camp Loge assumed the comic position more usually occupied by Alberich and Mime (Richard Roberts, wonderfully whiny). Jeni Bern, Sarah Castle and especially Jennifer Johnston were as fine a trio of Rhinemaidens as you could expect to hear anywhere. Peter Wedd and Derek Welton provided a sharply-characterised Froh and Donner, but it was Giselle Allen’s lusciously-voiced Freia who impressed me most.”     …

Review by ? Birmingham Post:

http://www.birminghampost.net/life-leisure-birmingham-guide/birmingham-culture/music-in-birmingham/2011/07/01/review-das-rheingold-opera-north-at-symphony-hall-65233-28964247/

…     “And under Richard Farnes the ON orchestra unfolds this tremendous score seamlessly, meticulous in detail (one example: 12 anvils and six harps – how often do you get that?), and contoured into one vast paragraph spanning two-and-a-half hours which fly by. Peter Mumford, who also designed the sensitive, point-making lighting, has given the opera a staging which gives worthwhile food for thought: the tiresome Froh and Donner are virtual lookalikes, as are the giants Fasolt and Fafner; Fricka, normally such a shrew, is here elegant and convincing in Yvonne Howard’s portrayal; Loge is appropriately camp, Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke reflecting his ambivalent relationship with the gods; Andrea Baker a scary Erda; and Michael Druiett imposing as Wotan.

But the chief triumph of characterisation is what is normally the loathsome, contemptible dwarf Alberich.”        …

Review for Leeds performance by Anna Picard, Independent:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/classical/reviews/two-boys-coliseum-londonbrseven-angels-cbso-centre-birminghambrdas-rheingold-town-hall-leeds-2302743.html

…     “Considering the heft of an enlarged orchestra, the delicacy was impressive: the tender oboe accompaniment to Yvonne Howard’s melancholy Fricka, the sly bassoon beneath Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke’s charismatic Loge, the bell-like blend of the Rhinemaidens (Jeni Bern, Jennifer Johnston, Sarah Castle).

With lighter voices, Wagner’s text crackles and bites. Giselle Allen’s Freia, Dervek Welton’s Donner, Peter Wedd’s Froh and Richard Roberts’s Mime carried easily, while Nicholas Folwell’s bull terrier of an Alberich bristled with fury and envy. As Fasolt and Fafner, James Creswell and Gregory Frank made Freia’s abduction explicitly brutal. But was Michael Druiett’s Wotan meant to be a stuffed shirt? Das Rheingold is the start of Wotan’s downfall: it will be interesting to see how he develops when Opera North tackles Die Walküre.”     …

Review for Leeds Performance by Tim Ashley, Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/jun/21/das-rheingold-leeds-review

…     “We’re in for something special, if Rheingold is anything to go by. Despite a couple of flaws, this was one of the most enthralling Wagner performances of recent years.”     …

Review for Leeds performance, byGraham Rickson, ArtsDesk:

http://www.theartsdesk.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=3934:das-reheingold-leeds-town-hall-opera-review&Itemid=27

…     “Three large video screens are suspended above the orchestra platform and the singers do much more than just enter, stand up straight and deliver. You forget that you’re in Leeds on a Saturday night, so engaging is the effect, and only occasionally do you notice the presence of more than 100 grinning musicians sitting behind the cast, visibly delighted at just how well the whole thing works.”    [ …]

[…] Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke’s Loge steals the evening; it’s his dubious advice which has led to Wotan’s problems, and Ablinger-Sperrhacke is compelling to watch, with his virtuoso display of shifty body language, fussy hand gestures and insincere facial expressions. The biggest cheers of the evening deservedly went to Nicholas Folwell’s Alberich, a charismatic pantomime villain inviting both sympathy and scorn, especially during his scenes with Richard Roberts’s wretched Mime, a perfect physical match for Folwell.”     …