JAMES CONLON LAUNCHES THREE-YEAR CYCLE OF MOZART’S DA PONTE OPERAS AT THE FESTIVAL DEI DUE MONDI IN SPOLETO, ITALY
James Conlon returns to the original Spoleto Festival, the Festival dei Due Mondi (Festival of Two Worlds), in Spoleto, Italy – where he conducted his first opera more than 40 years ago – to lead Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte. The opera launches a three-year cycle of Mozart’s trilogy of operas with librettist Lorenzo da Ponte, including Cosi fan Tutte, Le Nozze di Figaro, and Don Giovanni.
Cosi fan Tutte opens the 2015 Festival dei Due Mondi on June 26, with subsequent performances taking place on June 28 and 29. Mr. Conlon will conduct the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra, a leading apprentice orchestra in Italy founded by Ricardo Muti in 2004, in performances of the operas, marking the festival’s first multi-year project with an orchestra. All three operas will be directed by Giorgio Ferrara, director of theater and film, and artistic director of the festival, with sets and costumes by Oscar winners Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo (The Aviator, Sweeney Todd and Hugo).
This engagement with the Festival dei Due Mondi brings Mr. Conlon full circle, as the festival was where he conducted his first opera, at age 21, while still a student at Juilliard. Mr. Conlon’s first visit to Europe was in 1970 when the Juilliard Orchestra was engaged to play for the festival. The following year he returned as assistant conductor and led a single performance of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, marking his first public appearance conducting an opera.
Founded in 1958 by Gian Carlo Menotti, the Festival dei Due Mondi is a multi-genre festival presenting opera, classical music, theater and dance. Throughout the 1970s, Mr. Conlon worked with Menotti both at the Spoleto Festival and Juilliard, where they also collaborated on a revised version of Samuel Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra. Since 1995, James Conlon has returned to the festival for numerous guest conducting engagements.
For further information visit the festival’s website here.
JAMES CONLON AND LA OPERA’S BEAUMARCHAIS TRILOGY PRODUCTIONS MET WITH GREAT SUCCESS
Earlier this spring, Mr. Conlon conducted a trilogy of operas inspired by the works of French playwright Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais as part of LA Opera’s community-wide project titled Figaro Unbound: Culture, Power, and Revolution at Play, which included talks, seminars and exhibits. The Figaro trilogy featured John Corigliano’s The Ghost of Versailles, Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, as well as two performances of Giovanni Paisielllo’s Barbiere, written in 1782 and which held the stage even after the premiere of Rossini’s workin 1816.
All three operas in the Beaumarchais trilogy conducted by Mr. Conlon were met with considerable praise.
“James Conlon conducted [The Ghosts of Versailles’] large pit orchestra with fire and care, particularly reveling in the delicious aleatoric illustrations of the ghost world and Corigliano’s extraordinary writing for brass.”
“Conlon took the [Figaro] Overture at a comfortable yet exhilarating speed that felt just right… He explored the lyrical element underpinning the comedy, savoring the often exquisite counter-lines for winds and horns, getting generally splendid ensemble work from his musicians.”
“[Conlon’s] unusually suave approach was to take the lyric high road, conducting with a grand sweep while lovingly bringing out inner details in the orchestra. Most important of all, he sensitively supported and guided DeShong, bringing out all that is special about her.”
“James Conlon in the pit showed an absolute mastery of the [Ghosts] score and LA Opera Orchestra played like angels for him. Through an evening of very challenging harmonies and swift changes of tempo they alighted on each new melody with precision and a transparency that I hadn’t enjoyed in this work before.”
“It was Maestro James Conlon’s long held hope to bring this shimmering work [Ghosts], first commissioned by the Met, back to life in all its splendor. With his impeccable musicians, Conlon has once again added to the prestige of LA Opera.”
“At every turn, this Barber delivered. From the opening chords of Rossini’s bubbling score to the last note, we were held in thrall by the LA Opera Orchestra and Maestro James Conlon’s superb rendering of this beloved music.”
“James Conlon conducted a performance of Mozart’s masterpiece, The Marriage of Figaro, that evoked the use of such superlatives as “sublime” and “transcendent.”…Every dulcet melody, every nuance and dynamic tension of vocal line and instrumentation was completely expressed and developed — whether it was the plaintive strains of the Countess’ aria, “Dove sono,” the modulated intensity of the second act’s climactic ensemble, or the opera’s fireworks finale.”
“I’ve never seen James Conlon so animated, as from the get-go, with the [Barber] Overture, he vividly conducted the orchestra with verve and flair, almost illustrating the music while moving as one with the dazzling score. Conlon’s baton seemed like more of a magic wand, conjuring Rossini’s intoxicating, enchanting score out of the strings, woodwinds, fortepiano, brass and percussion instruments, et al, like a symphonic sorcerer.”
JAMES CONLON RETURNS TO THE CINCINNATI MAY FESTIVAL AND RAVINIA
Fresh from a European guest conducting tour during which he led the NDR Sinfonieorchester, the Orchestre de Paris in the new Philharmonie and at the Mariinsky Theatre both in concert and Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina, Mr. Conlon, Music Director of the Cincinnati May Festival for 36 years, returns to “The Queen City” for the 2015 May Festival. Mr. Conlon will lead the May Festival Chorus, Cincinnati Symphony and internationally renowned soloists in two weekends of concerts that exemplify the festival’s grand choral tradition including Haydn’s Creation, Berlioz’s Requiem, and an all-Russian program with works by Shostakovich, Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky.
The 2015 Cincinnati May Festival opens Friday, May 22 and continues through Saturday, May 30.
This summer, Mr. Conlon marks his final season as music director of the Ravinia Festival, summer home of the Chicago Symphony, with concerts that reflect and celebrate the breadth of his 11-year tenure, highlights of which have included Mahler, Mozart, and Shostakovich cycles, numerous works by composers suppressed by the Nazi regime as part of his Breaking the Silence series, and annual opera-in-concert presentations.
During the 2015 festival, Mr. Conlon conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23, K. 488 with Garrick Ohlsson (July 22); Mussorgsky’s Three Pieces from Khovanshchina, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Lise de la Salle and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 (July 23); Zemlinsky’s The Mermaid (DieSeejungfrau) and Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Jorge Federico Osorio (July 29); an all-Tchaikovsky concert featuring the Violin Concerto in D Major with Maxim Vengerov, the Nutcracker Suite and the “1812” Festival Overture (August 1); and an opera-in-concert performance of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman (August 15).
For further information visit the Cincinnati May Festival website here and the Ravinia Festival website here.