Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts a symphonic expedition and soaring opera melodies
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, and rising stars of the Curtis Opera Theatre kick off the 2023–24 season with a tribute to Richard Strauss. A celebration of the German Romantic composer’s life and legacy, the program features highlights from some of his most popular operas and scales the spectacular heights of his final tone poem, An Alpine Symphony. This breathtaking work depicts a perilous mountain-climbing expedition from the composer’s childhood, capturing the brilliance of a blazing sunrise over the Alps, the wonder of cascading waterfalls, the pastoral sounds of bleating sheep, and the terrifying violence of a raging thunderstorm.
Under the baton of second-year student Micah Gleason, Curtis’s Rita E. Hauser Conducting Fellow, the evening opens with a dramatic instrumental interpretation of the composer’s “Dance of the Seven Veils” from his harrowing psychodrama Salome. Based on the scandalous play by Oscar Wilde, this one-act masterpiece recounts the Biblical story of a princess who becomes infatuated with the prophet, Jokanaan (John the Baptist). Beneath the iconic scene’s lush chromaticism is a discordant waltz that builds to a feverish frenzy as Salome removes each of her veils in sensuous dance and spirals deeper into madness.
This striking early 20th-century classic is followed by three riveting performances from two of Strauss’s most popular operatic works. His satirical 1912 opera within an opera, Ariadne auf Naxos, is a theatrical battle between lighthearted comedy and dramatic tragedy. In the quintet “Die Dame gibt mit trübem Sinn,” the commedia dell’arte troupe of Brighella, Truffaldino, Scaramuccio, Harlequin, and the saucy comedienne Zerbinetta, attempt to lift the spirits of the inconsolable Ariadne with a charming song and dance number. This moment of comic levity is followed by the Act II opening of Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, featuring the ceremonious presentation of a silver rose and a rapturous love duet. The set concludes with the opera’s sublime Act III trio, as the Marschallin blesses the union of young lovers Octavian and Sophie.
Dance of the Seven Veils
Micah Gleason, conducting fellow
Ariadne auf Naxos
Quintet: "Die Dame gibt mit trüben Sinn..."
Brighella: Hongrui Ren
Act II opening & Presentation of the Rose
Faninal: Nathaniel Schludecker
Trio: "Hab mir's gelobt"
Octavian: Katie Trigg
An Alpine Symphony (Eine Alpensinfonie), Op. 64
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor