Fabio Luisi Leads New Guillaume Tell at Met and New Lehár Production in Zurich, Debuts with San Francisco Symphony, Tours with Deborah Voigt and Anne-Sophie Mutter

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Fabio Luisi Leads New Guillaume Tell at Met and New Lehár Production in Zurich, Debuts with San Francisco Symphony, Tours with Deborah Voigt and Anne-Sophie Mutter

Grammy and ECHO Klassik Award-winning conductor Fabio Luisi embarks on his final season as Principal Conductor of the Metropolitan Opera in 2016-17, taking the podium for an all-star Don Giovanni, as well as a new production of Rossini’s Guillaume Tell, which returns to the house after an 80-year absence. At Zurich Opera, where the conductor is beginning his fifth season as General Music Director, he leads a new production of Lehár’s Das Land des Lächelns, as well as revivals of Don Carlo, Un ballo in maschera and Lohengrin. Concerts with the Philharmonia Zurich include an ambitious choreographed performance of Verdi’s Requiem, and a spring tour of Germany with violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter. Luisi will become the new Principal Conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra (DNSO) beginning with the 2017-18 season, and this fall he opens both his own season and the DNSO’s by conducting Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, before returning in the New Year for Mahler’s Seventh and First (“Titan”) Symphonies. The latter program also features beloved soprano Deborah Voigt in Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder, and following the Copenhagen performance they will tour the program to five cities in California. Rounding out the conductor’s busy season are: his debut with the San Francisco Symphony; concerts with Japan’s NHK Symphony in Tokyo; returns to the Philadelphia Orchestra, Filarmonica della Scala, Munich Philharmonic and London Symphony; and a concert at Florence’s Opera di Firenze.

In 2010, when Luisi stepped in to lead Lulu at the Metropolitan Opera, Time Out New York called the performance “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.” The press has been no less favorable in the intervening years: reviewing the new Richard Eyre staging of Manon Lescaut last season, the Huffington Post particularly praised the music, which the magnificent Met Orchestra renders so beautifully under Fabio Luisi’s brilliant baton.” The coming season marks Luisi’s sixth and last in his post at the Met, and he’s winding up his tenure in style: after splitting conducting duties with Plácido Domingo for a star-studded Don Giovanni starring Simon Keenlyside and Ildar Abdrazakov in the title role, with Nadine Sierra, Ramón Vargas, and Rolando Villazón, he conducts the Met’s first Guillaume Tell in more than 80 years. In this new production of Rossini’s final masterpiece, directed by Pierre Audi, baritone Gerald Finley sings a signature role as Tell, the revolutionary on a quest for freedom, joined by Marina Rebeka and Bryan Hymel.

Luisi is equally busy with conducting duties in Europe, particularly in his role as General Music Director of Zurich Opera, where he is now in his fifth season. Many of the new productions created during his incumbency have been directed by Zurich General Manager Andreas Homoki. This season the two join forces for a new production of Franz Lehár’s operetta Das Land des Lächelns, starring Piotr Beczala. After a Met performance of Lehár’s more famous Merry Widow in 2015, the New York Observer raved: The absolute star of the night was conductor Fabio Luisi who made Lehár’s melodies do more than just dance: he made them sigh with thwarted longing.” Known for his peerless interpretations of Wagner, Verdi, and the bel canto repertoire, Luisi also conducts a fall revival of Don Carlo for Zurich with René Pape and Ramón Vargas, and returns in the spring for revivals of Un ballo in maschera, starring Marcelo Álvarez and Sondra Radvanovsky, and Lohengrin with Brandon Jovanovich in the title role.

One of Luisi’s innovations at Zurich Opera has been to enlarge the presence of the resident orchestra, Philharmonia Zurich, on the concert stage. To that end, he launched Philharmonia Records in 2015, and the label has since released seven recordings of both opera and concert repertoire ranging from Berlioz to Berg. In concert this season he leads Philharmonia Zurich in a lavish collaborative co-production of Verdi’s Requiem, joined by the Zurich Opera Chorus and the Zurich Ballet and Junior Ballet, with world-premiere choreography by Christian Spuck. In the midst of those performances he also leads the orchestra alone in a program of Schubert and Frank Martin. In May, he leads concerts featuring music of Bruch, Brahms and Takemitsu with violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, both in Zurich and on tour in Germany and Luxembourg. Finally, in July, he leads the Philharmonia Zurich in a program of Strauss tone poems and Paganini’s First Violin Concerto.

Before assuming his post as Principal Conductor of the DNSO in the fall of 2017, Luisi leads that orchestra in concerts this season that focus on the symphonic works of Gustav Mahler. Beginning at the end, he opens the season with Mahler’s valedictory Ninth Symphony, and, after leading a January concert of Brahms and Strauss, he returns in February for Mahler’s Seventh Symphony and in March for the First (“Titan”) Symphony. The March performance also marks the beginning of a series of concerts with soprano Deborah Voigt, who sings Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder with the DNSO in Copenhagen and on a subsequent tour to five cities in California, culminating with two dates in San Francisco. The program opens with the Helios Overture by Carl Nielsen, a composer whose music has played an important role in Luisi’s relationship to the DNSO. Nielsen’s Second (“The Four Temperaments”) Symphony “in Luisi’s hands, was a riot of invention” (London Evening Standard) when the orchestra performed the piece at the BBC Proms.

Luisi is also in great demand as a guest conductor, with engagements throughout the coming season. Making his debut with the San Francisco Symphony next spring, he conducts three performances of Schumann’s Piano Concerto with young Russian pianist Igor Levit as soloist, paired with Strauss’s tone poem Aus Italien. After serving as a last-minute replacement for an ailing Lorin Maazel with the Munich Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall in 2014, he reunites with the orchestra for the first time in the spring of 2017, conducting two separate programs: Mahler’s Ninth Symphony paired with Webern’s Six Pieces for Orchestra, and a concert of Schumann and Brahms symphonies. Likewise he returns to the London Symphony Orchestra for the first time since his “powerful and convincing” (The Guardian) 2014 debut, first conducting Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Emperor”), again featuring Igor Levit, and Brahms’s Symphony No. 2. Three days later he leads the LSO in Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony and Brahms’s towering German Requiem, joined by the London Symphony Chorus under the direction of Simon Halsey. And he returns to the Philadelphia Orchestra for a program celebrating “André Watts’s 60-Year Legacy,” with the legendary pianist performing Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto. Completing the roster of Luisi’s guest appearances are a series of four concerts with Japan’s NHK Symphony in Tokyo, again featuring Mahler’s First, and a return to the Filarmonica della Scala for a concert of Strauss and Liszt.

Adding to an astonishingly long list of important conducting posts, Luisi has also been named Music Director Designate of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in his native Italy, beginning in the spring of 2018. This prestigious appointment will see the conductor lead at least three full operatic productions and numerous symphonic concerts at the Opera di Firenze and the annual Maggio Musicale Fiorentino festival each season, besides collaborating with Intendant Francesco Bianchi to raise the company’s global profile with a new touring initiative. This season he leads the Opera di Firenze orchestra and chorus in a February concert of Beethoven, Nielsen and Strauss.

These many engagements follow a string of successes last season, both in the U.S. and Europe. At Zurich Opera, Luisi conducted new productions of Wozzeck and Bellini’s I puritani, the latter directed by Homoki and starring Lawrence Brownlee. At Opera National de Paris he closed the season with a new production of Aribert Reimann’s Lear; a review in Seen and Heard International commented that “the score can rarely, if ever, have been played with such clarity.” He also led Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore at La Scala, and led the La Scala Orchestra in accounts of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony in Milan, Palermo, and Naples. Last spring he released his seventh album with Philharmonia Zurich, a rare recording of the original version of Bruckner’s monumental Symphony No. 8. A reviewer for AllMusic noted that “Luisi provides many moments of drama and grandeur, and the Philharmonia Zürich plays with high energy and conviction.” In June 2016, Forbes named an earlier recording of Wagner Preludes and Interludes from these same forces “Classical CD of the Week,” and the reviewer concluded his assessment with, “Indeed, this is now my favorite disc of orchestral Wagner.”

In his time off the podium, Luisi is also a passionate perfumer, as reported by the New York Times and CBS Sunday Morning, among others, and the proceeds from his one-person operation, flparfums, benefit his wife Barbara’s new educational arts foundation, the Luisi Academy for Music and Visual Arts.

High-resolution photos can be downloaded here.

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Fabio Luisi: 2016-17 engagements

Sep 1, 2

Copenhagen, Denmark

Danish National Symphony Orchestra

Mahler: Symphony No. 9

Sep 27; Oct 1, 5, 8, 11, 15, 19, 22; Nov 1, 4, 10

New York, NY

Metropolitan Opera

Mozart: Don Giovanni

Oct 18, 21, 25, 29; Nov 2, 5, 9, 12

New York, NY

Metropolitan Opera

Rossini: Guillaume Tell

Nov 27; Dec 1, 4, 7, 10

Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich Opera

Verdi: Don Carlo

Dec 3, 6, 8, 13, 16, 20; Jan 13

Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich Opera

Verdi: Messa da Requiem

Dec 18

Zurich, Switzerland

Philharmonia Zurich

Schubert: Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D. 759, “Unfinished”

Martin: Love and Death of Cornet Christopher Rilke (Okka von der Damerau, alto)

Jan 14

Copenhagen, Denmark

Danish National Symphony Orchestra

Strauss: Till Eulenspiegel

Brahms: Violin Concerto (Leonidas Kavakos, violin)

Brahms: Symphony No. 4

Feb 2, 3, 4

Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia Orchestra

André Watts’s 60-Year Legacy”

Weber: Overture to Oberon

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4 (André Watts, piano)

Franck: Symphony in D minor

Feb 16

Copenhagen, Denmark

Danish National Symphony Orchestra

Abrahamsen: Four pieces

Mahler: Symphony No. 7

Feb 17

Copenhagen, Denmark

Danish National Symphony Orchestra

Abrahamsen: Four pieces

Mahler: Symphony No. 7

Feb 20

Milan, Italy

Filarmonica della Scala

Strauss: Don Juan

Liszt: Concerto No. 2

Strauss: Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40

Feb 25

Florence, Italy

Opera Florence

Nielsen: Hymnus Amoris, Op. 12

Beethoven: Choral Fantasy in C minor, Op. 80

Strauss: An Alpine Symphony, Op. 64

March 2, 4

Munich, Germany

Munich Philharmonic

Webern: Sechs Stücke für Orchester, Op. 6

Mahler: Symphony No. 9

March 6, 7

Munich, Germany

Munich Philharmonic

Schumann: Symphony No. 1

Brahms: Symphony No. 4

March 16

London, UK

London Symphony Orchestra

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor” (Igor Levit, piano)

Brahms: Symphony No. 2

March 19

London, UK

London Symphony Orchestra

London Symphony Chorus / Simon Halsey

Schubert: Symphony No. 8, “Unfinished”

Brahms: German Requiem

March 23

Copenhagen, Denmark

Danish National Symphony Orchestra

Soloist: Deborah Voigt, soprano

Nielsen: Helios Overture

Wagner: Wesendonck Lieder

Mahler: Symphony No. 1 in D, “Titan”

March 28-April 3

California, USA

Danish National Symphony Orchestra

March 28: Santa Barbara

March 29: Palm Desert

March 30: San Diego

March 31: Costa Mesa

April 2, 3: San Francisco

April 15-16

Tokyo, Japan

NHK Symphony Orchestra

Einem: Capriccio, Op. 2 (1943)

Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 (Nikolaj Znaider, violin)

Mahler: Symphony No. 1 in D, “Titan”

April 21-22

Tokyo, Japan

NHK Symphony Orchestra

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15 (Beatrice Rana, piano)

Brahms: Symphony No. 4 in E minor

April 27, 28, 29

San Francisco, CA

San Francisco Symphony

Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor (Igor Levit, piano)

Strauss: Aus Italien

May 12-23

Philharmonia Zurich tour with Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin

Takemitsu: Nostalghia–In Memory of Andrei Tarkovsky

Bruch: Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26

Brahms: Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98

May 12: Stuttgart, Germany

May 14: Zurich, Switzerland

May 16, 17: Linz, Germany

May 18: Dresden, Germany

May 20: Essen, Germany

May 21: Köln, Germany

May 22: Luxembourg, Luxembourg

May 23: Frankfurt, Germany

June 7, 11, 14, 20, 24

Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich Opera

Verdi: Un ballo in maschera

June 18, 21, 25, 29; July 2, 6, 9, 13

Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich Opera

Lehár: Das Land Des Lächelns

July 4, 8, 12, 16

Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich Opera

Wagner: Lohengrin

July 15

Zurich, Switzerland

Philharmonia Zurich

Strauss: Don Juan Op. 20

Paganini: Violin Concerto No. 1 in D, Op. 6 (InMo Yang, violin)

Strauss: Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40

# # #

© 21C Media Group, September 2016

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