5th Mozart week in Mannheim
In connection with the close relationship between the composer Mozart and the city, the Mozart week has been held in Mannheim every December since 2001. Although the initiator Adam Fischer is not the GMD any more, he came back as a guest to conduct three choir works. On 5th December, the Orchestra and Choir of the National Theatre Mannheim performed the Requiem. In addition, they gave “Thamos, the king of Egypt” and the “Mass in C minor” on the 12th, the last concert of the Mozart week.
Starting with the warm welcome by the audience, both concerts were full of
interesting ideas by Adam. Sometimes with a beautiful quiet tone, sometimes with
wild bowing of strings, the orchestra performed convincing music even with the
relatively unknown piece, “Thamos”. The powerful chorus brightened up the
concert, as well as the soloists. The actor Manfred Trabant explained the scenes
of “Thamos” with a narrative. We can say that these performances were the
wonderful result of five years of Adam’s hard work as the General Music
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“Otello” at the Berlin State Opera
The story took place in a gorgeous passenger boat. Othello is the captain, and Casio is the first officer. Iago is the manager who is in a business suit. Otello and Desdemona live above the swimming pool of the ship. In the final scene, Otello sets fire above the pool. The dreamy real fire made the tragic finale very dramatic.
Valerie Alekseev sang the cunning Iago with convincing attitude. Otello sang by Frank Porretta good, but he couldn’t show the agony of Otello by singing. Young Tamar Ivory was a modern very active Desdemona. Her famous aria, “Mia madre aveva una povera ancella - Ave Maria” moved one to tears The Staatskapelle Berlin led by Adam Fischer not only supported the singers, but made beautiful and dramatic music. Some people thought it sounded very German and perhaps lacked a little Italian flavor.
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International Haydntage 2005
This opera was originally composed for a theatre in London. Although it was never performed there, the work requires four major roles and chorus. That made it very difficult to build the stage set because the Haydnsaal is not a real theatre and its stage space is restricted. Under such condition, the director Michael Schilhan and stage designer Alexia Redl worked hard to build convincing scenery.
Raffaella Milanesi, who appeared frequently at Copenhagen with Adam Fischer, sang the heroine Euridice with a beautiful voice. Her twin sister Giorgia Milanesi sang a passionate Genio. Tenor Norman Shankle sang Orfeo and Alexander Puhrer was superb King Creonte.
The Vienna Chamber Choir sings normally at concerts, but this production was its opera debut. The Choir takes a very important role in this opera and the ensemble was perfect. For example, at the end of first act after the funeral scene, the audience waited with applause until the last choir went off stage because nobody wanted to break the sad atmosphere created by the beautiful chorus. Of course Adam Fischer and Haydn Orchestra accompanied the singers well, and sometimes played with much drama.
Normally the Wednesday of the second week is a concert highlight; however Adam
had unfortunately another engagement with Vienna State Opera. The GMD of the New
Zealand Symphony Orchestra, James Judd appeared on the podium of Haydn Orchestra
and performed the Figaro overture, Haydn Symphony No. 75, and the “Creation mass”.
As usual, the final concert of the festival was the Sunday matinee with Adam
Fischer and the Haydn Orchestra. As last year, there were two performances at
11:00 and 15:00. Following the theme “Haydn and Mozart”, first half was Mozart:
Adagio and Rondo for violin and orchestra, and Symphony No. 40. The second half
was Haydn’s “ Clock” symphony.
There will be no opera next year, but under the theme of “Haydn and Handel”, the orchestra plays Handel’s “the Messiah” and Haydn’s masterpiece “The creation”.
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Adam Fischer’s “Cosi fan tutte” at the Salzburg Festival
Since Adam did not have Bayreuth this year, he agreed to conduct “Cosi fan tutte”.
Two sisters, sung by Maite Beaumont, and Tamar Iveri, are rich and warm and sometimes very active just like young girls. Their boyfriends, sang by Christoph Strehl and Russel Braun, had beautiful tone but didn’t have strong personalities.
Two veteran singers played very important role in this production. Helen Donath
sang very sweet and funny Despina and acted very much convincing. Thomas Allen,
currently the best singer for this role, seemed always in charge not only of the
plot but the entire performance.
During the 2005 Salzburg Festival, the media and public opinion were dominated by “La Traviata” sang by Anna Netrebko. On the contrary, “Cosi fan tutte,” last Easter’s hot production, was already treated as just a “regular revival”. Of course a new production is always the highest priority, however, if revivals could not get enough attention, star singers who sang the premiere will not perform revivals. That makes it difficult to keep the high standard of the festival. The Salzburg festival should consider keeping the same ensemble for some years and improving the total production year by year.
2006 is 250th anniversary of Mozart birth. The Salzburg Festival plans an epoch-making cycle of all 22 theater productions by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. This makes huge artistic and logistic challenges for the management. This “Cosi fan tutte” is also scheduled but with conductor Manfred Honeck. Adam will perform the Mannheim production of “Ascanio in Alba”, which happens to be the same day as the one performance of “Cosi fan tutte”.
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Mahler Festival at Kassel
This symphony consists of five movements including the second and the fourth
movement „Night music”. Adam Fischer’s signature intensely beautiful pianissimo
had a dramatic effect. The orchestra, played wonderfully with virtuoso brass
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Royal Opera House, London, “Il Turco in Italia”
Adam Fischer had not conducted at Covent Garden since a Fledermaus revival many seasons ago. So it was pleasure to welcome both back for seven performances of Rossini’s “Il Turco in Italia.” This new production by Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier – who have already given us a witty and much-revived Cenerentola – was set in a 1950s Naples with Miss Bartoli as a Sophia Loren figure. The great Alessandro Corbelli was her hen-pecked husband and Ildebrando D’Arcangelo the Turk of the title. Tom Allen was the only non-Italian among the major parts as the Poet orchestrating the plot in this pre-Pirandello libretto. And what of the Covent Garden orchestra?
Guest-led by Marcia Crayford, they sat in the raised position usually used only for operas by Mozart or earlier, not Rossini. Adam Fischer led the proceedings in a confident and assured manner that proved again his versatility as an opera conductor
It all came as a bit of a revelation – an opera that is hardly known reveals
itself as masterpiece and is given a splendid performance that will be
remembered as one of the highlights of a good season. (From Member Robert Avery)
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“Parsifal” and Mahler 6 at Munich
Since Adam conducted very clear, dramatic Wagner, many of the local critics praised very much. Now the expectation for the new production of “Der Fliegende Höllander” is very high.
Just a few weeks after the Parsifal, Adam appeared on the podium for the academy concert by the Bavarian National Theater Orchestra. This is the concert series held at the National Theater. The program was his “symphony of the year” Mahler No. 6 This is the fourth orchestra this season with which he plays this symphony.
As usual for his Mahler 6, the first movement started with the marching tempo,
sounded like the tragedy approaching. The second movement is also a rather quick
scherzo but changes the tempo dramatically later. The third movement is very
romantic with beautiful tone from the orchestral strings and woodwind.
The Bavarian National Theater Orchestra has a very warm and rich tone compare to
other orchestras. Compare to the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, which Adam conducted
in this symphony in January, it reminds me of recent tragedies in Germany, like
Word War II. It was a very convincing performance.
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Janacek “From the House of Dead” at German Opera, Berlin”
The Capital of Germany, Berlin is a hard-fought area of opera with three opera houses. As this season is the 150th birth year of Leos Janacek, the three opera houses in Berlin are cooperating together to perform all Janacek’s operas.
The only opera house in former West Berlin, German Opera gave a new production of Janacek’s last opera “From the house of dead.” Originally its GMD Christian Thielemann was scheduled to conduct but upon resigning, Adam Fischer took over. The famous German film director Volker Schlöndorff directed this human drama set in a prison. The original language is Czech but this production was sung in German.
The opera begins when Gorjantshikoff arrived at the prison. Prisoners find an
injured eagle and take care of it. Until Gorjantshikoff and the eagle are
released at the end, many prisoners tell their histories, their crimes and their
But the most impressive was Adam Fischer’s interpretation. Dramatic and very impressive small tone, he showed the individualism of this operatic masterpiece. The German Opera Berlin Orchestra played in high quality really showing the weakness of man. The finale was full of the joy of freedom.
There was much applause and bravo calls for the ensembles, especially for Adam and the orchestra. And some boos for the production, which is dark and monotone. Besides the singers, the mute actor Marc Bockemühl played the acrobatic eagle, won much applause.
After this success at Berlin, Adam was invited by the Berlin State Opera, which
is in former East Berlin.
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Haydn Orchestra’s Swiss tour
The Haydn Orchestra started the year 2005 with a very successful tour of Switzerland. This tour is under the frame of “Clubhouse Concerts” and between 14 and 19 of January, there were concerts in Zürich, Geneva, Basel, St. Gallen, La Chaux-de-Fonds, and Montreux.
All the concerts had the same programs. The opening is Mozart overture to “Der Schauspieldirektor”, followed by Haydn’s Sinfonia Concertante with the principal players of the Haydn Orchestra, Wolfgang Redik (Violin), Harald Hölt (Oboe), Jozsef Vajda (Bassoon) and Tamás Varga (Cello). The solo ensemble was not perfect at the first performance in Zurich; however, it improved day by day. The orchestra supported them well.
After the intermission, the second concerto was Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto. The Haydn Orchestra had played this piece last year at Graz with Peter Schmidl, the veteran player of the Vienna Philharmonic. This time the soloist was the Israeli young player Sharon Kam. Maybe she does not have the experience of Mr. Schmidl, but her skill and musicality are second to none. With her brilliant technique as well as her flowing stage manner, the concerto was gorgeous and the audiences answered by thunderous applause.
The last piece was Haydn’s Surprise Symphony. Unfortunately the regular
timpani player could not make this tour, so the Japanese timpanist Fumiko Nomura
from the National Theater Mannheim took over. Her timpani solo was very powerful
and greatly surprised the audiences.
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