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Thursday, September 10, 2015, 8.00 pm

Programme

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Don Giovanni, KV 527

No other non-Czech opera is so closely bound to the Czech capital as Mozart's Don Giovanni. It was in Prague that Mozart completed the score of this work, commissioned after the Prague premiere of The Marriage of Figaro which was more successful than its previous production in Vienna. In Don Giovanni he employed textual and musical allusions that were recognized by the Prague audience of the time. The first presentation of the opera, with the subtitle The Rake Punished accentuating the contrast between comedy and tragedy, was given in Prague's Estates Theatre on 29 October 1787 under the baton of Mozart himself.

  • Dress code: dark suit
  • Doors close: 7.55 pm
  • End of concert: 11.10 pm

Artists

Freiburger Barockorchester

The Freiburg Baroque Orchestra is an ensemble of twenty-six core musicians and occasional guests using historical instruments and specializing in early music. However, since 1987 when it performed Baroque works for the first time the ensemble has gradually expanded its repertoire to encompass music from the Classical and Romantic periods as well as newer works including contemporary compositions. It often performs without a conductor, led by the concertmaster from the first violin stand; major projects, however, such as a concert performance of an opera, require a conductor's baton. The orchestra's discography contains dozens of titles, many of which have received prestigious awards. The ensemble's maxim is to uncover unknown values in music with the same earnestness as to present known music in new ways. The renown enjoyed by the 'Freiburgers' during their travels through Europe is perhaps best attested by the fact that in 2009 they became the first Baroque orchestra to be entrusted with the opening concert of the Salzburg Festival.

Johannes Weisser

During the last decade the young Norwegian baritone Johannes Weisser has been much in demand as a Mozartian singer, and he ranks among the frequently-requested soloists in Baroque operas and oratorio concerts. Occasionally he sings in works by twentieth-century composers as well, such as Benjamin Britten. He has performed the title role in Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni on many stages and in many concert halls, including the Early Music Festival in Innsbruck. With René Jacobs and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra he has collaborated for example in Haydn’s oratorio The Creation. He is also a distinguished performer of songs.    

Alex Penda

Soprano Alex Penda (Alexandrina Pendatchanska) studied in Sofia and performs in numerous theatres of Europe and America. She has excelled in operas by Rossini in such venues as the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, La Monnaie in Brussels, the Bavarian State Opera, and the Rossini Festival in Pesaro as well as in the United States. She also sings Mozart frequently, having performed the role of Donna Anna in cities including Lausanne, Lisbon, Houston, and Prague. Her discography features Rossini's opera Semiramide and Petite messe solennelle as well as Haydn's opera Orlando Paladino among other works. She has also attracted attention as Strauss's Salome.

Kühn Choir of Prague

The Kühn Mixed Chorus has been performing on the global musical scene for more than half a century now. Under the leadership of Pavel Kühn it focused on presenting a cappella works by composers of the Romantic period including Brahms, Schumann, and Strauss. It performs oratorio and cantata repertoire as well, and its frequent activities also include recording film music and operas. Another part of its programmes is new contemporary music, and the ensemble's performances have inspired works from many composers of the twentieth century, most notably Bohuslav Martinů, Jan Novák, Václav Trojan, and Luboš Fišer. The chorus works with numerous renowned orchestras both in the Czech Republic (such as the Czech Philharmonic and the Prague Radio Symphony) and abroad (including the Tonhalle Orchestra of Zürich and the Israel Philharmonic). Its performances have been honoured by many international awards in various countries including Italy and Hungary. Since 2014 the chorus has been working with the opera of Prague's National Theatre under the guidance of Marek Vorlíček. It presents its own series of concerts in the Czech Museum of Music.

Sunhae Im

Soprano Sunhae Im, a graduate of arts schools in Seoul and Karlsruhe, has been attracting attention since her European debut in 2000 through numerous international projects, especially on important opera stages in Germany and France, in appearances with European and leading American orchestras, and in collaboration with Berlin's Academy for Ancient Music as well as other Baroque ensembles. She can be heard most often in works by Mozart, Handel, and Bach, but also for example as soloist in Mahler's Fourth Symphony and sacred works from the Romantic period. On her first compact disc she sang arias by Rameau, Pergolesi, and Scarlatti.      

René Jacobs

For many years the Flemish musician René Jacobs was known as an outstanding singer – a countertenor specializing in early music. Later, however, he also began to conduct, and in this field he has already achieved equal international renown, especially with operas but also with sacred works and other music from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. Gramophone magazine deemed his recording of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro the best recording of 2004, and the following year it received a Grammy Award. His recording of Mozart’s opera Idomeneo with the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, which he conducts as a frequent guest, garnered a German Critics' Award in 2009. Jacobs also appears with other important orchestras devoted to historically-informed performance. He serves as programming director for the Early Music Festival in Innsbruck, and teaches Baroque singing at the Schola Cantorum in Basel.   

Tareq Nazmi

Bass Tareq Nazmi comes from Kuwait, but his life and career have been in Germany where he studied at Munich's College of Music and Theatre. Around 2009 he began scoring his first successes, including a prize from the Walter and Charlotte Hamel Foundation and the title of laureate in a Federal Singing Competition, then his first experiences on stage. At the Schleswig-Holstein Festival the young bass made a sensation. For the time being his main focus both in opera and in concerts is music of the Viennese Classical and German Romantic composers, though he also performs smaller roles by others. Since 2012 he has been a regular soloist with the Bavarian State Opera. 

Brigitte Christensen

Since her first regular engagement in Innsbruck at he turn of the millennium soprano Brigitte Christensen has become widely known thanks to performances with the Vienna State Opera, the Semper Opera in Dresden, and theatres in Italy as well as her native Norway. Her repertoire ranges from Baroque music and Mozart roles through Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto and Musetta in Puccini's La bohème to Britten's operas A Midsummer Night's Dream and Peter Grimes. She is also in demand as a concert singer––in sacred works by Bach, Handel, and Haydn as well as music of the Romantic period and for example Carl Orff's cantata Carmina burana.    

Marcos Fink

Marcos Fink was born in Argentina to parents from Slovenia. He was a professor of zoology and at the same time sang in various vocal groups, but decided to pursue a career as a solo singer only at the age of thirty-five in the mid-1980s. After systematic studies in London he debuted in 1990 on the opera stage in Salzburg, and since then has appeared in numerous productions in European theatres and concert halls, mainly in works by Mozart and related composers though his repertoire also includes Baroque works like Handel's Messiah and cantatas by Bach, and on the other hand songs by composers of the Romantic period. He is also an active promoter of music from Slovenia.

Jeremy Ovenden

English tenor Jeremy Ovenden counts as one of the best Mozart singers of his generation. Since his studies at London's Royal College of Music, where he was a finalist in the competition for the Kathleen Ferrier Prize, he has worked with many well-known conductors, especially artists outstanding in informed performance of early music. Besides Mozart he sings lead roles in operas by Handel and Monteverdi and has collaborated in performances of Haydn's The Creation as well as other oratorios and Britten's War Requiem. In 2004 he debuted at Milan's La Scala, and he has returned repeatedly to other opera houses of Italy, to the Berlin State Opera, to La Monnaie in Brussels, and of course to London's Covent Garden.

Rudolfinum, Dvořák Hall

The Rudolfinum is one of the most important Neo-Renaissance edifices in the Czech Republic. In its conception as a multi-purpose cultural centre it was quite unique in Europe at the time of its construction. Based on a joint design by two outstanding Czech architects, Josef Zítek and Josef Schultz, a magnificent building was erected serving for concerts, as a gallery, and as a museum. The grand opening on 7 February 1885 was attended by Crown Prince Rudolph of Austria, in whose honour the structure was named. In 1896 the very first concert of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra took place in the Rudolfinum's main concert hall, under the baton of the composer Antonín Dvořák whose name was later bestowed on the hall.