Mannheim Mozart Week 2002
An important project ever since Adam Fischer became GMD of Mannheim, the Mozart week took place in the first week of December. Not only the theater, the entire city of Mannheim had been involved in promoting this program. While garbage collection trucks played Mozart CDs, a musician dressed as Mozart played at the city's heated pool. Even the international news media CNN came to Mannheim and reported on the event and the "Mozart Eggs" sold at the theater, which had been laid by the hens listening to Mozart's music.
On the 3rd and 4th of December, Adam Fischer's other orchestra, the Danish Radio
Sinfonietta appeared as a guest ensemble and performed the early opera "Mitridate, re
di ponto" in concert version. They had already played this piece at their home and
are going to make CD this season. The best singers of Denmark were rewarded with a storm
The world famous diva, Cecilia Bartoli came to Mannheim for the first time and sang beautiful arias with the National Theater Orchestra, Mannheim. As well as conducting, Adam Fischer accompanied her on the piano. This was the most successful concert of the 2002 Mozart Week and the very full house applauded enthusiastically, demanding several encores.
The last day of the Mozart Week saw a revival of "Idomeneo". As last year, there was a candle light dinner at the theater lobby after the opera. Everybody enjoyed the beautiful Mozart week.
Mozart Week 2003 will start on 30th November and end on December 7th. Adam Fischer is going to conduct six performances including guest performance of Danish Radio Sinfonietta and a new production of "Cosi fan tutte".
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"Don Carlo" at the Zurich Opera
Workaholic Adam Fischer never seem to take a vacation and immediately after Vienna, he appeared at the Zurich Opera with Verdi's "Don Carlo".
As well as "Othello", "Don Carlo" is one of his favorite Verdi operas. He conducted this long 4 act opera without a score and never missed a note.
The production by Werner D·gelin was very standard. The men's costumes were modern and reminded me of Italian Mafiosi rather than the court of the Spanish King. Ruggiero Raimondi as Filippo II and Renato Bruson as Roderigo were very dramatic and made a very successful performance. Stefania Kaluza as Princess Eboli was also successful. For example the second scene of Act I, "Canzone del Velo" was a highlight. Kaluza expressed Spanish passion accompanied by female chorus.
The title role sang by Niel Shicoff was sensitive but did not have enough bravura; the Elisabetta of Elena Prokina was beautiful but not very convincing. However, overall it was a good performance.
Adam conducted "Don Carlo" three times in November. After Mozart week in Mannheim, he returned Zurich to perform " Cenerentola" with Cecilia Bartoli.
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"Rosenkavalier" and "Ring" at Vienna
Last autumn immediately after Eisenstadt, Adam Fischer appeared 9 times at the Vienna State Opera with those masterpieces in the German Language, "Fidelio", "Rosenkavalier" and entire "Der Ring des Nibelungen".
The very Viennese Opera, Richard Strauss's "Rosenkavalier" has conducted by world famous maestros at Vienna State Opera. Adam Fischer studied it not only with the score, but also the video by Carlos Kleiber.
The popular singers in Vienna sang important roles: Inga Nielsen as Feldmarschallin, Walter Fink as Baron Ochs, Angelika Kirchschlager as Oktavian, Juliane Banse as Sofie etc. Helmut Wildhaber who has appeared frequently at Eisenstadt sang as Valzacchi and Mannheim's Daniera Denschlag sang Anina.
With true Viennese tone, the State Opera Orchestra and Adam Fischer played the lovely music. Not just the audience, even some members of orchestra praised Adam.
Adam Fischer's first Ring cycle in Vienna was a huge success that won the approval of the tough local critics. For instance, Kurrie in Vienna said, "Not just a very successful Ring conductor at Bayreuth, Adam Fischer is ideal in Vienna" and praised the contribution of the orchestra. The "Prolog" magazine, which is published by the Vienna State Opera, also published the interview with Adam and proudly announced the big success of the Ring cycle in their own home page.
In the past, Adam has conducted a lot of Italian operas at Vienna. Recently he got a good reputation for German operas. Although in most cases, conductors acknowledged by other opera houses come to Vienna, Adam Fischer is one of very few conductors who started his career at Vienna. Maybe the Viennese consider him as a homegrown maestro now recognized by other famous opera houses.
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Creative Idea, "La vera costanza "
Haydn's opera "La vera costanza" was newly produced this year. Accompanied by Adam Fischer and the Haydn Orchestra, many of the cast and crew were from Mannheim including producer Philipp Himmelmann. ("Bluebeard's Castle" in Mannheim).
Synopsis: Count Errico has married secretly Rosina, daughter of a fisherman. However, he left her without knowing he was going be a father. A few years later, his aunt, Baroness Irene and her would-be lover Ernesto want to end the rumoured relationship between Count and Rosina, and have made a marriage plan between Rosina and the farmer Villotto. Irene's maid Lisetta is interested in Rosina's brother Masino, the only one who knows Rosina's secret.
When Irene and her company are shipwrecked near the house of Rosina, by coincidence Count Errico is passing by. Although he abandoned Rosina, he is outraged when he learns that Villotto wants to marry Rosina. However, the count is also interested in the picture shown by Irene as a future bride for him. Unfortunately Rosina arrives at this moment and is shocked, then runs away. The Count keeps changing his mind and Irene misunderstands and even accuses Rosina of betrayal. Rosina wanted to die Finally, Rosina's secret is revealed and Errico discovers he has a son. They are united. And the other two couples join in the happy ending.
The original three acts in this production were performed without any break. The setting was a contemporary wedding party. The overture started before the audience were seated, played on a harpsichord, then by a string quartet, Adam Fisher leaving the party on stage and joining the orchestra only later, as the cast change into the characters and the story starts. The audience felt they too were guests at the wedding party and part of the story. This creative idea was very effective in the Haydnsaal, which sometimes hosts real wedding parties.
The story itself is very complicated and difficult to understand without some preparation. Some of the audience did not like the production and claimed some of the action did not make sense. However, everybody agreed on the high quality of Haydn's music and the wonderful performance of Adam Fischer. In the opinion of many, this was the best Eisenstadt opera production since the original Orlando Paladino
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Symphonies by Haydn and Schubert
The Haydn Orchestra and Adam Fischer appeared not only in the four performances of the Opera but also in a choral concert and the traditional final matinee.
The concert on September 18, with the soprano Conelia Horak and the Vienna Chamber Choir was a compilation of several choral pieces by Haydn and Schubert. The first half was Haydn's Madrigal "The Storm", Ave Regina, Lauda Sion and Salve Regina. Since some of these are not exactly good choir pieces, the concert was not so exciting. But the pieces performed in the second half, especially Schubert's "Miriam's Victory Song" were dramatic and got a lot of applause.
The Matinee program, which we had two performances this year, was Schubert's largest symphony "The Great" and the first of Haydn's London set, Symphony No. 93. Although the Haydn Orchestra had performed some Schubert works such as Rosamunde or the Rondo for orchestra in the past, this is the first time they played a Symphony. "The Great" symphony is very long, over one hour, and a risky piece because it can sound tedious. This time Adam cut several repeats and made it right length. As usual, he paid great attention to the balance of the instruments and especially second movement, he made a beautiful harmony.
After the intermission, the orchestra played a joyful Haydn symphony. In the second movement of symphony No. 93, Haydn wrote a big bassoon solo. Then Adam Fischer added low double bass tremolo and made it even more interesting. As if it is their mother tongue, the musicians of the Haydn orchestra played this enjoyable and convincing music.
After the farewell greetings by Adam Fischer, the orchestra played its regular encore number, the famous Adagio from the Farewell symphony, and closed the successful Haydntage 2002.
Next year, unfortunately Adam and Haydn Orchestra won't play for the Opera but will perform the "Harmoniemesse" and two final matinees.
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Goldmark's forgotten treasure, "The Queen of Sheba" at Mannheim
Adam Fischer chose the rare opera "The Queen of Sheba" as the new production of his second season at Mannheim. This piece was first performed in 1875 and was once popular in Budapest and Vienna. Because of its Jewish aspect, it was abandoned during World War II and forgotten afterwards. Adam Fischer made the world premiere recording in 1980 with the Hungarian State Orchestra and this remains the only CD available.
Originally, the National Theater Mannheim asked Academy Award film director Istvan Szabo but later he refused. According to his statement, he though it was not appropriate to produce the work which may escalate the conflict between Jews and Palestinians. Later the Theater asked Dominique Mentha to take over the production.
The opera is the tragic story of the Queen of Sheba visiting King Solomon, and the
Jewish soldier Assad who is seduced by the queen. Eventually exiled, Assad rejects the
love of the Queen and dies in the arms of his fiancee Sulamit.
Although it is a little pity that all of the ballet music was cut, musically it was all
very convincing. Both the Queen sang by Michaela Schuster and Assad by Michail Agafonov
were very good and convyed well the seductive Queen and the young man confused by love.
The National Theater Orchestra lead by Adam Fischer performed very well and contributed to
the revival of this forgotten opera.
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"Bayreuth in Budapest"- the Haydn Orchestra Performs Wagner
Recently Adam Fischer has conducted a lot of Wagner, and not just in Bayreuth. On May 19th he and the Haydn Orchestra performed Wagner in his hometown, Budapest.
This concert was dedicated to the memory of the Hungarian-born conductor, Hans Richter, who had conducted the first Ring at Beyreuth in 1876. The concert was entitled "Bayreuth in Budapest" with the current Bayreuth singers, Lioba Braun, Eidrik Wottorich, and Philip Kang.
Following a short speech by a present member of the Richter family, the concert started with Haydn's Symphony No. 93. The Haydn Orchestra, organized with regular double woodwinds, in total 35 musicians, performed Haydn with great confidence. With the skin-covered timpani and the Viennese oboe, the orchestra gave an interpretation of Haydn with a local dialect.
After the intermission the main item was "Die Walkure Act 1". As soon as the almost 80 musicians, including 40 string players and additional instruments like harp and Wagner tubas, appeared on the stage, the full house audience welcomed them with applause. Since this was the first Wagner concert by the Haydn Orchestra, many extra musicians were invited from the Budapest Opera Orchestra. During the rehearsals, sometimes they had a little difficulty playing together. However at the concert, the leader Rainer Honeck, who is the one of concertmasters of the Vienna Philharmonic, played a major role in making the orchestra a unified ensemble.
Adam Fischer's lyrical Wagner was very much praised even in Bayreuth. Without the restriction of stage sets, he changed the tempos more freely and to great dramatic effect. The warm soprano of Lioba Braun expressed the lovely Sieglinde. Wottorich sang Siegmund beautifully but perhaps with insufficient volume. He was sometimes overwhelmed by the orchestra sounds. On the contrary, the Hunding of Philip Kang was very powerful.
The string section and brass section of the orchestra expressed a strong Wagner sound and woodwinds added romantic colour. In general, it was very dramatic and lyrical performance.
The Wagnerians of Budapest were most impressed and gave a lot of applause and repeated bravo calls.
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"The Creation" with the Haydn Orchestra
Every year in March and April, there are many performances of Haydn's works because of his birthday. This year the Haydn Orchestra appeared at Budapest and Vienna and played the Oratorio "The Creation".
The concert at Budapest's Vigalo Hall on March 30 was a part of the Budapest Spring Festival, which is, together with the "Prague Spring", one of the biggest music festivals in central Europe. During this festival, there are a lot of Classical, Jazz, and Rock concerts. Since March 30 was in the middle of the Easter Holiday, many of the audiences came from as far as Japan, and tickets were long sold out.
Haydn's masterpiece, "The Creation" was based on a text by the great English writer, Milton. It consists of 3 parts; Part 1 - first to the fourth day of Creation. Part 2 - fifth and sixth day of Creation. Part 3 - Adam and Eve praise the works of God. In total it takes about 100 minutes but Adam Fischer decided perform the piece without an intermission.
Adam Fischer, some people calls him "The meister of pianissimo", made a very quiet and beautiful "Und Gott sprach : Es werde Licht", then dynamic "und es ward Licht." with colorful orchestral forte. Changing tempos frequently, this very exciting "Creation" won a storm of applause. The Wiener Singakademie, who performed "The Seasons" with the Haydn Orchestra in 2000 and last summer, sang beautifully. This concert was broadcast live by Hungarian Radio.
The same piece was performed on April 14 at the Vienna Konzerthaus as part of the
Konzerthaus concert series. Soloists Diana Damaru, Werner Gura and the substitute Wolfgang
Bankl. sang the solo parts. The local critics praised the performance and the applause
In September, they will appear at the Eisenstadt International Haydn Festival with the opera "La vera Costanza", in a Choral Concert, and in the final matinee concert.
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Concerts at Mannheim and Bamberg
After January, most of Adam's performances were Opera and he gave fewer concerts than usual. In Mannheim, he conducted the subscription concert of the Mannheim Academy Orchestra on January 14 and 15. The program included Bartok Violin Concerto No. 2 and Brahms Symphony No. 4. The young virtuoso violinist Frank Peter Zimmerman showed his talent and the orchestra accompanied with full support. After the concerto, Zimmermann played variations as an encore with an amazing assured technique. Adam Fischer was not so familiar with Brahms No. 4 and surprisingly, Adam had never played it in last 8 years. It sounded a little nervous but was an interesting interpretation.
On April 24, Adam conducted Mahler's Symphony No. 6 with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra. Following Mannheim in October, this was the second performance in this season. Adam tried much of his new ideas this time. The famous hammer appeared 3 times. Using gunpowder. it sounded like gun fire and expressed the struggle and the death of the hero. Audiences loved this performance and there were a lot of Bravos after the final bar.
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Vienna State Opera Performances
Ever since his assumption of the role of Opera Director in Mannheim, Adam Fischer's opera performance has increased. Not only at Mannheim, he also appears at the Vienna State Opera, where he has close relations for more than 20 years. He conducted "Cavalleria Rusticana" & "I Pagliacci" this January and "Le nozze di Figaro " in February.
Adam Fischer knows the Vienna State Opera production of "Cavalleria" & "Pagliacci" very well and in the past he has performed with famous singers like Placido Dominogo. . This time, the famous young tenor from Argentine, Jose Cura sang Canio in "Pagliacci". Originally he was supposed to make his debut as Canio at the Vienna State Opera in this season, however, when Placido Dominogo cancelled last summer, he jumped in and made an early debut. Of course many of the audience were looking forward to his aria and he was greeted with great applause.
"Le nozze di Figaro" in February was the house debut of the Korean Bass Kwangchul Youn (Figaro) and Michael Volle (Count Almaviva). The production by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle was very traditional. Although some opera houses perform "Figaro" as 4 acts, this production was performed in 2 acts following the strict Opera Buffa rule. Costumes and stage sets are also very conservative design. It was not very novel but was the way of Mozart opera inheriting the tradition of the city where Mozart lived.
The combination of a handsome and tall but very jealous Almaviva and a short funny
Figaro made the opera very interesting. Other singers like Ricarda Merbeth (Countess),
Tatiana Lisnic (Susanna) and Ruxandre Donose (Cherbino) gave wonderful performances.
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Beginning of New Era in Europe - New Year concert in Mannheim, 2002
Sometimes "New Year Concert" means the Viennese Waltz but in Mannheim, the people celebrated the beginning of 2002 with the 9th Symphony of Beethoven with Adam Fischer.
12 countries in EU started circulating the new Euro currency on this day. Because everyone was unused to the new currency, each money transaction took time. When it came to the starting time, there were so many people still standing in the line at the box office, that the concert was delayed by 30 minutes.
The performance was very exciting from the first movement. Then in the fourth movement, with the National Theater Mannheim Choir and soloists expressed the joy of the beginning of a new era in Europe.
Mannheim's best signers sang as soloists. Soprano Jayne Casselman (Brunhilde of the Ring), Alto Andrea Szanto (Judith of "Bluebeard's Castle", Octavian of "Der Rosenkavalier") Tenor Stefan Vinke (title role of "Idomeneo") and Bass Thomas Jesatko (Jochanaan of "Salome")
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