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Italian Conductor Fabio Luisi Bookends Full 2015-16 Lineup with New Productions of Berg’s Wozzeck at Zurich Opera and Reimann’s Lear at Paris Opera

In 2010, when Fabio Luisi stepped in to lead Lulu at the Metropolitan Opera, Time Out New York called it “an inspired and ravishing account,” and the New York Times concluded that “the Met chose wisely in appointing Fabio Luisi its new principal guest conductor.” Now, to launch his fourth season as Music Director of the Zurich Opera, the Grammy and ECHO Klassik Award-winner turns to the earlier of Berg’s two operatic masterworks, undertaking his first performances of Wozzeck in a new treatment by Zurich General Manager Andreas Homoki, with whom he has been described as “almost a ‘dream team’” (Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen). Marking a change of pace for Luisi, who is best known for his peerless interpretations of Wagner, Verdi, and bel canto opera, this is the first of a pair of 20th-century masterpieces – both in new productions – that flank his 2015-16 lineup; to close the season, the Italian conductor takes the Paris Opera podium for a new staging of Aribert Reimann’s unjustly neglected opera Lear by radical Spanish director Calixto Bieito.

Thematically linked in depicting men whose tragedy lies in their inability to see others as they really are, these two productions bookend a busy schedule for Luisi. In his fifth season as Principal Conductor of New York’s Metropolitan Opera, he leads David McVicar’s double-bill of Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, which was widely praised at its April premiere; Jonas Kaufmann and Kristine Opolais in Richard Eyre’s new take on Puccini’s Manon Lescaut; and Mikhail Petrenko, Isabel Leonard, and Luca Pisaroni in Eyre’s hit staging of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. Back in Zurich, Luisi conducts Lawrence Brownlee in another new Homoki production, of Bellini’s bel canto classic I puritani, as well as revivals of Verdi’s Falstaff, Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, and Puccini’s Tosca. In his native Italy, he leads Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore at La Scala and joins the company’s orchestra for accounts of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony in Milan, Palermo, and Naples.

Also in the concert hall, as principal conductor designate of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Luisi leads performances of Handel’s Messiah with the Danish National Concert Choir; Paganini’s Violin Concerto with In Mo Yang, winner of the 2015 Paganini Competition; Rachmaninoff’s Fourth Piano Concerto with longtime musical collaborator Lise de la Salle; Brahms’s First Symphony; and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. His upcoming concert highlights also include programs showcasing Mahler’s Seventh and Bruckner’s Ninth with the Malaysian Philharmonic, Bruckner’s Fourth with Rome’s Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Mahler’s “Resurrection” with the Orchestra of the Teatro Regio di Torino, Brahms’s Third with New York’s Juilliard Orchestra, and an all-Russian program featuring Christian Tetzlaff with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

As Luisi explains,

“I’m looking forward to introducing two new works into my repertoire in the coming season – both of which deal with themes of the corrosive nature of power and love. I’ve waited a long time to approach Berg’s Wozzeck, and after several turns with Lulu I think that this is a season to do it – and I couldn’t ask for a better team than the Opernhaus Zurich.

“Complementing this, I’m looking forward to getting to know Aribert Reimann’s Lear at the Paris National Opera this season with a new production. And I can’t wait to explore Reimann’s sound world through this legendary fictional ruler. I’m hoping that these new works will also give me a fresh perspective on the classics that I’m looking forward to reuniting with this season, and can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.”

The new season follows a string of summer successes for the conductor. With the Danish National Symphony Orchestra at London’s BBC Proms, Nielsen’s Second Symphony (The Four Temperaments) “in Luisi’s hands, was a riot of invention” (London Evening Standard). To conclude his third season at the helm of the Philharmonia Zurich, he led what the Neue Zürcher Zeitung called an “impressive finale.” Marking the final appearance of de la Salle’s multi-season tenure as Artist-in-Residence, the concert completed their Rachmaninoff concerto cycle, which has been recorded for release on the orchestra’s new Philharmonia Records label. As for Luisi’s leadership of Joyce DiDonato in Zurich Opera’s new production of Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi, this proved, as Italy’s Il giornale della musica observed, “a great success.” “Luisi knows every nuance in Bellini’s opera,” recognized the Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen. He “has a high degree of sensitivity to these magic moments,” the Neue Zürcher Zeitung agreed. As Seen and Heard International put it, “He breathed life into Bellini’s score and maintained the dramatic tension throughout,” resulting in a “tense, musically sublime performance.”

High-resolution photos can be downloaded here.

Fabio Luisi: 2015-16 engagements

Sep 13, 16, 19, 22, 25, 29; Oct 2 & 6
Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich Opera
Berg: Wozzeck (new production)

Sep 15, 18, 20, 24, & 27
Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich Opera
Verdi: Falstaff

Sep 21, 23, 28; Oct 3, 5, 7
Milan, Italy
La Scala
Donizetti: L’elisir d’amore

Oct 27–30
Italian tour with Orchestra of Accademia Teatro alla Scala
Mahler: Symphony No. 5
Oct 27: Milan (Teatro Dal Verme)
Oct 29: Palermo (Teatro Massimo)
Oct 30: Naples (Teatro di San Carlo )

Nov 7 & 8
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Malaysian Philharmonic
Mahler: Symphony No. 7

Nov 13 & 14
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Malaysian Philharmonic
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1 (with Beatrice Rana, piano)
Bruckner: Symphony No. 9

Nov 21 & 22
Naples, Italy
Teatro di San Carlo
Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro di San Carlo
Mahler: Symphony No. 2 in C minor, “Resurrection”

Nov 25
Milan, Italy
Quartet Society of Milan
Orchestra of Accademia Teatro alla Scala
Schönberg: Verklärte Nacht
Mahler: Symphony No. 4

Dec 3 & 4
Copenhagen, Denmark
Danish National Symphony Orchestra
Danish National Concert Choir
Handel, arr. Mozart: Messiah

Dec 12, 14, & 15
Rome, Italy
Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 21, K.467 (with Radu Lupu, piano)
Bruckner: Symphony No. 4, “Romantic”

Jan 7, 8, & 9
Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia Orchestra
Glinka: Overture to Ruslan and Lyudmila
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto (with Christian Tetzlaff, violin)
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6, “Pathétique”

Jan 21, 25, 28; Feb 2, 6, 10, 13, 17, 20, 23, & 26
New York, NY
Metropolitan Opera
Mascagni: Cavalleria Rusticana / Leoncavallo: Pagliacci

Feb 12, 15, 18, 24, 27; March 1, 5, 8, & 11
New York, NY
Metropolitan Opera
Puccini: Manon Lescaut (new production)

Feb 25, 29; March 3, 7, 12, 16, 19, 22, & 26
New York, NY
Metropolitan Opera
Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro

March 24
New York, NY
Juilliard Orchestra
Alice Tully Hall
Brahms: Symphony No. 3 in F, Op. 90
Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491 (with soloist tbd)
Beethoven: Leonore Overture No. 3

March 31
Copenhagen, Denmark
Danish National Symphony Orchestra
Paganini: Violin Concerto (with In Mo Yang, winner of 2015 Paganini Competition, violin)
Brahms: Symphony No. 1

April 9, 12, 15, 21 & 24
Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich Opera
Mozart: Die Zauberflöte

April 23
Turin, Italy
Teatro Regio di Torino
Orchestra of Teatro Regio
Alfredo Casella: Pupazzetti
Luca Lombardi: E, concerto for flute and orchestra (Italian premiere, with Andrea Manco, flute)
Bruckner: Symphony No. 7

May 8
Copenhagen, Denmark
Danish National Symphony Orchestra
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 4 (with Lise de la Salle, piano)
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade

May 20, 23, 26, 29; June 1, 6, 9, & 12
Paris, France
Opéra National de Paris
Aribert Reimann: Lear (new production)

June 24, 28; July 2, 6 & 9
Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich Opera
Puccini: Tosca

June 19, 22, 25, 29; July 3, 7, 10
Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich Opera
Bellini: I puritani (new production)

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© 21C Media Group, September 2015

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