Nearly 30 years after its premiere, Mark-Anthony Turnage’s first opera Greek remains a vital, resonant work with new productions mounted each year. From 26 June, Bayerische Staatsoper present the work with conductor Oksana Lyniv and director Wolfgang Nägele. A further production follows in August at this year’s Edinburgh International Festival.
Aribert Reimann is ubiquitous this year in Berlin, where the city’s three major opera houses will each stage a new production of one of his works. Medea is currently running at the Komische Oper, and his new music theatre triptych, L’Invisible, will premiere this autumn at the Deutshe Oper. To complete the trio, Die Gespenstersonate (“The Ghost Sonata”) opens this month on 25 June at the Staatsoper im Schillertheater, with director Otto Katzameier and conductor Michael Wendeberg as part of the INFEKTION! Festival of New Music.
Andrew Norman’s new opera, A Trip to the Moon, brings together professional musicians and community choirs. Part of the Berlin Philharmonic’s Vocal Heroes project and the London Symphony Orchestra’s LSO Discovery music education and community programme, it provides a chance for young people and adults to sing in a high profile classical music event. The opera receives its world premiere at the Philharmonie Berlin with the Berlin Philharmonic on 17 June, followed by its UK premiere at London’s Barbican with the London Symphony Orchestra. Both performances are conducted by Sir Simon Rattle with chorus direction by Simon Halsey.
Stefan Heucke’s Deutsche Messe (“German Mass”) receives its world premiere on 10 June at St Stephan’s Church in Mainz, Germany. Steven Sloane conducts the Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and Berlin Radio Choir with soloists Juliane Banse (soprano), Birgit Remmert (alto), Tilman Lichdi (tenor) and Michael Nagy (bass). The Mass was commissioned by the DSO Berlin and is a setting of a new German translation by Norbert Lammert, a German politician, whose translation of the “Pater noster” Heucke set in 2010.
On 3 June Jörg Widmann’s opera Babylon will receive its first performance since its premiere production in Munich. The concert performance will be part of the 2017 Holland Festival and will take place at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Netherlands Radio Choir, Netherlands Chamber Choir all under the baton of Markus Stenz.
For the 500th anniversary of the year that priest and scholar Martin Luther made his new theses public there is no shortage of performances commemorating the Protestant Reformation. On 26 May, the Staatskapelle Weimar and Chor des Deutschen Nationaltheaters will perform Krzysztof Penderecki’s Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott at the Nationaltheater Weimar under the baton of Kirill Karabits. The title translates as “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” and is based on Luther’s hymn of the same name.
Composed in 2010 for mixed choir, brass, percussion and string orchestra, Penderecki’s Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott is a relatively short work that was written to mark the 1200th anniversary of the city Cieszyn in Poland, Penderecki’s native country. There is a tradition of composers setting Luther’s text and in the past Mendelssohn, Reger and Handel have all written works based on the hymn. One of the best known adaptations is J.S. Bach’s chorale cantata BWV 80, a work which Penderecki quotes in the final chord.
The orchestration of the work is carefully considered with no woodwind; instead the brass instruments are the focus of the piece and open the work. Initially the music is solemn but as more brass followed by percussion join, the music develops a strong, romantic and celebratory character, highlighting the festivity of the anniversary for which it was composed. Finally the strings and choir are added to start the hymn.
“I have spent decades searching for and discovering new sounds. At the same time, I have closely studied the forms, styles and harmonies of past eras. I have continued to adhere to both principles … my current creative output is a synthesis.” – Krzysztof Penderecki
Further performances take place at the Nationaltheater Weimar on 4 and 30 June.
- Krzysztof Penderecki – Profile
- Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott – Workdetails
- Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar
Photo: © Marek Beblot (Krzysztof Penderecki)
Thomas Larcher’s A Padmore Cycle for tenor and orchestra receives its German premiere at the Philharmonie im Gasteig, Munich, on 18 May performed by Mark Padmore (Photo) and Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks with conductor Mariss Jansons. Originally written for tenor and prepared piano in 2010-2011, Larcher orchestrated the work in 2014 for Padmore and the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Edward Gardner.
Peter Eötvös’ new orchestral work Alle vittime senza nome is a memorial for refugees from Middle Eastern and African countries who have drowned in the Mediterranean. It receives its world premiere on 8 May at Teatro alla Scala in Milan with the Filarmonica della Scala conducted by the composer.
Karl-Birger Blomdahl’s opera Aniara opens on 6 May at Malmö Opera. The new production will be directed by Stefan Johannson and conducted by Tobias Ringborg with choreography by Patrik Sörling. This production is a true rarity: Aniara was last seen on stage in 1994 in Gothenburg.
The world premiere of Toshio Hosokawa’s Umarmung (Embrace) for organ and orchestra takes place on 27 April with organist Christian Schmitt, to whom the work is dedicated, Bamberger Symphoniker and conductor Jakub Hrůša. The work is a co-commission between Bamberger Symphoniker, Philharmonie Luxembourg, Wiener Konzerthaus and Kölner Philharmonie.