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Following Triumphant U.S. Opera Debut in Idomeneo at Met, Manfred Honeck Returns to Chicago Symphony

Manfred Honeck (photo: Todd Rosenberg)

(October 2022)— Internationally acclaimed Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck scored a veritable triumph last week at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, where his American operatic and company debuts in Mozart’s Idomeneo made for “musical theater at its most visceral and incisive” (OperaWire). Besides leading the three remaining performances of Idomeneo (Oct 9–20), Honeck looks forward to returning to the Chicago Symphony (Nov 17–20) and continuing in his 15th season as Music Director of the Pittsburgh Symphony.

Manfred Honeck made an auspicious debut, leading with clarity, authority and attentiveness to the singers,” wrote Opera News of Idomeneo’s opening night. As the New York Times observed, in his “impressive Met debut,” the conductor continued the company’s “tradition of big-orchestra Classicism: full-bodied, with rich vitality.” The New York Classical Review marveled:

“Honeck led a performance that was particularly light and lyrical. Mozart’s beautiful melodies unfolded seamlessly, creating an almost trancelike effect. None of the drama or intensity of the score was lacking, but it was a performance on a particularly intimate scale. If Honeck returns to the Met, undoubtedly another facet of his musical personality will be revealed, but for his impressive debut, he proved to be a Mozartean of rare refinement. … The Met orchestra … was peerless in responding to Honeck’s delicate, but authoritative touch. Seldom has the orchestra sounded more luminous and transparent than it did under Honeck’s baton.”

New York magazine affirmed:

“From the first notes, the conductor Manfred Honeck, making an unbelievably delayed Met debut, does justice to the crackle and elegance of Mozart’s score. The characters speak of murder, human sacrifice, drowning, and other forms of destruction, and Honeck nurtures that undercurrent of violence. But over that craggy foundation, he drapes phrasing of such polish, nuance, and romantic refinement that no listener can doubt how the contest between the primal and the civilized will end.”

BachTrack agreed:

“In a long-overdue Met debut, Manfred Honeck drew energy and clarity from his orchestra. Hard timpani sticks, vigorous rhythmic attack and tart woodwind colours brought period flavour, particularly effective in the violent thrashings of the storm music. Quieter moments were given a lovely sense of repose, Honeck daring the strings to play ever softer in the hushed opening of Act 3.”

As OperaWire concluded:

“The Metropolitan Opera orchestra was at its peak level. … The ensemble, under the musical direction of Manfred Honeck nearly outdid itself. From the thunderous overture all the way to the final triumphant march, Honeck had the ensemble surging forward with unbridled passion and a weighty, textured sound. … This was musical theater at its most visceral and incisive. … The orchestra seems to be operating on another level altogether. Idomeneo is the second must-see production of the Met season.”

Honeck leads the Met’s three remaining performances of Idomeneo on October 9, 14 and 20. As at its opening night, the opera will star Michael Spyres as the titular Cretan king, with mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey as his son, Idamante; soprano Ying Fang as Trojan princess Ilia; soprano Federica Lombardi as Elettra; tenor Paolo Fanale as Arbace; and tenor Issachah Savage as the High Priest, in a revival of Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s classic 1982 production.

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While in New York, Honeck looks forward to collaborating with the Juilliard Orchestra at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall (Oct 17). Combining Mahler’s First Symphony, the “Titan,” with works by Mozart and Carlos Simon, their program will stream live to audiences worldwide at the Juilliard School website.

As “one of the CSO’s most valued guest conductors” (Chicago Tribune), later this fall Honeck returns to lead the orchestra in an all-Russian program of Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, the overture to Glinka’s Ruslan and Ludmila, and Lera Auerbach’s Diary of a Madman. A new CSO co-commission for cello and orchestra, Auerbach’s work will receive its U.S. premiere with its dedicatee, Gautier Capuçon, as soloist (Nov 17–20).

High-resolution photos are available here.

Manfred Honeck: upcoming engagements

Oct 9, 14 & 20
New York, NY
Metropolitan Opera (debut)
MOZART: Idomeneo (remaining performances)

Oct 17
New York, NY
Juilliard Orchestra
(Concert will stream live on Juilliard School website at 7:30pm ET)
Carlos SIMON: Fate Now Conquers
MOZART: Violin Concerto No. 4 (with violinist TBA)
MAHLER: Symphony No. 1, “Titan”

Oct 28–30
Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Rolf MARTINSSON: Open Mind (Pittsburgh premiere)
MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 22 (with Yefim Bronfman, piano)
SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 2

Nov 17–20
Chicago, IL
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
GLINKA: Overture to Ruslan and Ludmila
Lera AUERBACH: Diary of a Madman (with Gautier Capuçon, cello; U.S. premiere of CSO co-commission)
SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 5

Dec 2 & 4
Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
SCHUMANN: Piano Concerto (with Martin Helmchen, piano)
MOZART: Mass in C minor (with Ying Fang & Lauren Snouffer, sopranos; Timothy Fallon, tenor; Alexander Birch Elliot, bass; Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh)

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© 21C Media Group, October 2022


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