Spectacular Strauss

Curtis Symphony Orchestra | Curtis Opera Theatre | October 22, 2023 7:00 p.m.

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.

Run time: approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes including one intermission.

View the program book


Program
STRAUSS Salome

Dance of the Seven Veils

Micah Gleason, conducting fellow

Ariadne auf Naxos

Quintet: "Die Dame gibt mit trübem Sinn..."

Brighella: Hongrui Ren
Scaramuccio: Jackson Allen
Harlekin: Erik Tofte
Truffaldino: Morgan-Andrew King
Zerbinetta: Maya Mor Mitrani
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor

Der Rosenkavalier

Act II opening & Presentation of the Rose

Faninal: Nathaniel Schludecker
Marianne: Kylie Kreucher
Haushofmeister: Landry Allen
Sophie: Juliette Tacchino
Octavian: Zhihui Zhuo

Trio: "Hab mir's gelobt"

Octavian: Katie Trigg
Marschallin: Emily Damasco
Sophie: Sarah Fleiss
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor

An Alpine Symphony (Eine Alpensinfonie), Op. 64

Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor

  • October 22, 2023
  • 7:00 p.m.
  • Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center
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Artists

  • Yannick Nézet-Séguin is music and artistic director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, music director of Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain, and in September 2018, began his tenure as music director of the Metropolitan Opera. Widely recognized for his musicianship, dedication, and charisma, Mr. Nézet-Séguin has established himself as a musical leader of the highest caliber and one of the most exciting talents of his generation. His highly collaborative style, deeply rooted musical curiosity, boundless enthusiasm, and fresh approach to programming have been heralded by audiences and critics alike.

    Mr. Nézet-Séguin has appeared with most of the world’s leading orchestras. He enjoys close collaborations with the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Chamber Orchestra of Europe. He is honorary conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic after serving as its music director from 2008 to 2018; and was principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic from 2008 to 2014. He has appeared repeatedly at the BBC Proms and many European and North American festivals, among them Edinburgh, Grafenegg, Lanaudière, Lucerne, Mostly Mozart, Salzburg, Saratoga, and Vail. He has conducted annually at the Metropolitan Opera since 2009, and has led productions at Teatro alla Scala in Milan; the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in London; Netherlands Opera; and the Vienna State Opera. He records for Deutsche Grammophon.

    A native of Montreal, Mr. Nézet-Séguin studied piano, conducting, composition, and chamber music at the Conservatoire de music du Québec. He continued his studies with renowned conductor Carlo Maria Giulini, and also studied choral conducting with Joseph Flummerfelt at Westminster Choir College. His honors include Musical America’s Artist of the Year (2016), the Royal Philharmonic Society Award, Canada’s National Arts Centre Award, and the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres du Québec. He holds honorary doctorates from multiple institutions, including the University of Québec in Montreal, Westminster Choir College, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Cur­tis Institute of Music, where he has served on the faculty as mentor conductor since 2013.

  • All students at Curtis receive merit-based, full-tuition scholarships, and Ms. Gleason is the Rita E. Hauser Conducting Fellow.

    Ms. Gleason has been recognized for her diverse performance abilities as a conductor, vocal soloist, and chamber musician. Interdisciplinary collaboration and community building are at the core of her music-making. She is curious about the most effective ways to disrupt the stasis and comfort of the modern concert hall; to examine how the disciplines of music research, performance, and perception can grow more aware of each other, and how artists across disciplines, activists, and researchers can most effectively collaborate. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from the Chicago College of Performing Arts and Master of Music degrees in conducting and vocal arts from the Bard College Conservatory of Music.

    An alumna of several notable training programs, including the Aspen Music Festival and the Conducting Institute at Oxford, Ms. Gleason was one of eight inaugural vocal fellows at the Crested Butte Music Festival. Her output as a vocal soloist ranges from concert appearances, including alto soloist in Handel’s Messiah and Mozart’s Requiem, multiple operatic roles, and an extensive song and chamber music repertoire. She also served as the alto artist in residence at the University of Chicago for two years, where she was a regularly featured soloist. As a conductor, Ms. Gleason has led notable ensembles such as The Orchestra Now and the Eastern Festival Orchestra.

    While obtaining her degrees at Bard College Conservatory of Music, studying under James Bagwell and Stephanie Blythe respectively, she served as the assistant conductor of the Bard Symphonic Chorus, conductor of the Bard Opera Workshop, and the assistant conductor of the Bard Graduate Vocal Arts Program’s main stage production of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen, in collaboration with The Orchestra Now. In July 2022, Ms. Gleason served as the music director for the world premiere of the opera The Final Veil during its residency at The Cell Theater in New York City.

    Alongside mezzo-soprano Joanne Evans, she is a co-founder of Loam, an artistic partnership presenting semi-immersive musical works. Current projects include co-conceiving, producing, and performing as a featured singer in The Fragile Femme, collaborating with director George Miller and choreographer Matilda Sakamoto.

    Ms. Gleason was named a 2021 conducting fellow at the Eastern Music Festival, where she studied with Gerard Schwarz, received the 2021 Emerging Conductor Award from The Gena Branscombe Project, and was named a National Finalist for The American Prize in Conducting.

  • Acclaimed for its “otherworldly ensemble and professional level of sophistication” (New York Times), the Curtis Symphony Orchestra offers a dynamic showcase of tomorrow’s exceptional young talent. Each year the 100 extraordinary musicians of the orchestra work with internationally renowned conductors, including Osmo Vänskä, Vladimir Jurowski, Marin Alsop, Simon Rattle, Robert Spano, and Yannick Nézet Séguin, who also mentors the early-career conductors who hold Rita E. Hauser Conducting Fellowships. This professional training has enabled Curtis alumni to assume prominent positions in America’s leading orchestras, as well as esteemed orchestral, opera, and chamber ensembles around the world.

  • Through imaginative productions, bold concepts, and absorbing theater, the artists of the Curtis Opera Theatre prepare to become stars of the world stage. The combination of key elements of artistry—music, acting, singing, and costumes—allows these student-artists to create a lasting connection with audiences.

Special Thanks

Orchestral concerts are supported by the Jack Wolgin Curtis Orchestral Concerts Endowment Fund.

Guest conductor appearances for each Curtis Symphony Orchestra performance are made possible by the Rita E. and Gustave M. Hauser Chair in Conducting Studies.

The Curtis Opera Theatre is generously supported by the Ernestine Bacon Cairns Trust, the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, and the Wyncote Foundation.

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