For the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frédéric Chopin, the renowned Ruhr Piano Festival in Essen invited the Staatskapelle Berlin to give a truly special program: the rare combination of Chopin‘s two piano concertos in one concert. For this purpose Daniel Barenboim, the orchestra‘s principal conductor, handed over the reins of „his“ ensemble to up-and-coming young conductor Andris Nelsons, assuming the role of piano soloist instead. The press raved: „Storms of applause for a dream couple: Daniel Barenboim and Andris Nelsons won over the audience […] with their rousing Chopin interpretations“.
It was a deeply affecting and appropriate farewell. The spirit of Claudio Abbado, the great conductor and founder of orchestras who died in January 2014, was present in music, words, and silence. Thousands upon thousands came to the Basilica di Santo Stefano in Bologna and the Piazza della Scala in Milan to pay their last respects. In Lucerne, the members of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA paid tribute to this extraordinary man and friend with a deeply moving concert – “The emotional intensity was unbelievable; this could only be achieved by true musicians, by those capable of love.” (Neue Zürcher Zeitung) Friends and associates look back fondly on Claudio Abbado and speak of how they experienced these moments of grief and farewell.
Franco Zeffirelli’s magnificent staging of Puccini's final opera, captured here in High Definition Widescreen, is one of the most opulent of all Met productions. A fairy-tale set in a mythical China, the opera tells of the icy Princess Turandot, whose fatal riddles test princes who seek her hand in marriage. Maria Guleghina takes the demanding title role and Marcello Giordani is Calàf, the unknown prince. Young Russian soprano Marina Poplavskaya and veteran American bass-baritone Samuel Ramey co-star. Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons makes his Met debut conducting Puccini's great score which includes the best-loved of all tenor arias - Nessun dorma.
Hans Neuenfelss striking new production of Wagners fairytale opera gives this medieval story of doomed love and sorcery the Bayreuth treatment. As controversial as it is stimulating, this production was the talk of the 2011 Festival, and showcases a new generation of Wagnerian singing talent including soprano Annette Dasch and tenor Klaus Florian Vogt. Lohengrin is staged by the enfant terrible Hans Neuenfels, and offers a thought provoking production of brilliant visual clarity. The performance by Klaus Florian Vogt in the title role is staggering and impressive. There is beauty and purity in his voice, but in this role in particular, one truly senses something unheimlich, other-worldly, which fits superlatively both with work and production. Conductor Andris Nelsons brings out the best in the festival chorus and orchestra. It is a Lohengrin one does not easily forget and puts Bayreuth back in the vanguard of Wagner interpretation.