|Othalie Graham as Turandot at Nashville Opera (2015). Photo by Reed Hummel|
What better way to celebrate Detroit Symphony Orchestra Music Director Leonard Slatkin's final program of his tenth season than with this full concert performance of Puccini's iconic final opera! Joined by Othalie Graham, Jonathon Burton and Guanqun Yu, the DSO will transport you to ancient China where the hard-hearted Princess Turandot dispatches her suitors with mind-bending and often fatal tasks to win her hand.
Premiering posthumously in 1926, Turandot was the last opera created by Puccini. An opera house and concert hall staple, it evokes a fantasy landscape of lush imperial palaces, enchanted forests and unexpected romance between Truandot and the brave, if not somewhat foolish Prince Calaf. Closing with the famed Nessun Dorma melody, it is an unmissable part of the repertoire in any setting.
Detroit, May 15, 2018. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) today announced that Peter Oundjian, Robert Spano, and Jader Bignamini will step in to conduct the final three weekends of concerts in the orchestra's 2017-2018 Classical Series. DSO Music Director Leonard Slatkin was forced to withdraw from these programs two weeks ago after tests revealed that he needed heart surgery. Maestro Slatkin underwent a successful triple bypass heart operation on May 8 and is expected to fully recover and return to conducting in about three months.
The three programs, which were to be Maestro Slatkin's final concerts as DSO music director following his tenth anniversary season, are unchanged and feature major symphonic works, opera in concert, and world premieres by three young American composers.
In the third week, Jader Bignamini – whose conducting engagements include the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera, and Bavarian State Opera – will close the 2017-2018 Classical Series, leading an opera-in-concert performance of Giacomo Puccini's Turandot with featured soloists Othalie Graham (soprano), Jonathan Burton (tenor), Guanqun Yu (soprano), and Morris Robinson (bass).
Sunday, June 10
Los Angeles: 12:00 PM
Lima: 13:00 PM
Detroit, New York, Toronto: 03:00 PM
Brasília: 04:00 PM
London: 08:00 PM
Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Madrid, Rome, Warsaw, Stockholm, Oslo, Cape Town: 09:00 PM
Athens, Kiev, Jerusalem, Beirut, Moscow, Ankara: 10:00 PM
Abu Dhabi: 11:00 PM
Monday, June 11
New Delhi: 12:30 AM
Beijing, Manila, Hong Kong: 03:00 AM
Tokyo, Seoul: 04:00 AM
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Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)
Lyric drama in three Acts and five Scenes
Libretto by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni, after the play by Carlo Gozzi
Princess Turandot..........Othalie Graham, soprano
The Emperor Altoum, her father..........George Shirley, tenor
Timur, the deposed King of Tartary..........Morris Robinson, bass
The Unknown Prince (Calaf), his son..........Jonathan Burton, tenor
Liù, a slave girl..........Guanqun Yu, soprano
Ping..........Hunter Enoch, baritone
Pang..........Alex Mansoori, tenor
Pong..........Jason Ferrante, tenor
Mandarin..........Evan Ross, bass-baritone
Prince of Persia..........Adrian Leskiw, tenor
Michigan State University Children's Choir
Audivi, vocal ensemble
Opera MODO, chorus
Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Jader Bignamini
Live from Orchestra Hall, Max M. Fisher Music Center, Detroit
Sunday, June 10, 2018, 03:00 PM EDT (GMT-4) / 10:00 PM EEST (UTC+3)
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Canadian-American soprano Othalie Graham (b. 1973) continues to receive critical acclaim throughout North America and is widely known for her interpretations of the title roles in Turandot and Aida and her commitment to Wagnerian repertoire. The Boston Globe noted that for her interpretation of Turandot her "timbre and power were thrilling – steely ring from top to bottom – and her path from imperiousness to passion was convincing".
Upcoming appearances include the title role in Turandot at the Teatro Cervantes de Málaga, and with Knoxville Opera, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Leonard Slatkin, as part of his final season as Music Director of the DSO. Ms. Graham also covers the title role in Elektra at the Teatro di San Carlo in Napoli. Upcoming concert engagements include a Gala with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra celebrating the 90th birthday of Leontyne Price with works by Strauss, Verdi and Barber.
Ms. Graham has performed the title role of Turandot with Edmonton Opera, Nashville Opera, Opera Carolina, Orquesta Filhamónica de la UNAM, Opera de Nuevo León, Boston's Chorus Pro Musica, Arizona Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Sacramento Opera, Opera Columbus, Opera Delaware, Utah Festival Opera, Connecticut Grand Opera, Pensacola Opera, the Westfield Symphony Orchestra, the Harrisburg Symphony, and at the Gran Teatro Nacional del Perú in Lima with the Asociación Cultural Romanza.
Recent performances have included the title role in Aida with Opera Carolina, Toledo Opera, and at the Teatro Greco di Siracusa in Sicily with Marcello Giordani; the title role in Ariadne auf Naxos with Festival Opera; and the role of Minnie in La Fanciulla del West with Nashville Opera and Indianapolis Opera. Recent concert highlights include all-Wagner programs in Mexico City at Sala Nezahualcóyotl and at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, in Lima, Peru, and with the Washington Chorus at the Kennedy Center; Beethoven's 9th Symphony with The Philadelphia Orchestra; the Verdi Requiem with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Mississippi Symphony Orchestra; Serena in Porgy and Bess in concert with Toledo Opera and with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra and Jacksonville Symphony; Isolde in Tristan und Isolde in Zagreb, Croatia, and with the Washington National Chorus at the Kennedy Center; and the Britten War Requiem with the Fondazione Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi.
Additional appearances have included Odabella in Attila with Sarasota Opera; the title role of Aida for the inaugural performance of the Istanbul International Opera Festival; Leonora in Il Trovatore with Utah Festival Opera; the title role in Tosca with Festival Opera; and the title role in Elektra at Philadelphia's Academy of Vocal Arts. In the Wagnerian repertoire, Ms. Graham's notable roles also include Senta in Der Fliegender Holländer, Brünnhilde and Sieglinde in Wagner's Ring Cycle, and Elisabeth in Tannhäuser.
Other concert engagements include a New York recital debut with the Liederkranz Society; Isolde in Tristan und Isolde with the Young Musicians Foundation Orchestra in California; Brünnhilde excerpts from Die Walküre for the L'Opéra de Montréal gala; Elijah with Bryn Terfel and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir; Mahler's Symphony No.8 with the Washington National Chorus at the Kennedy Center; a featured appearance with Eve Queler at the Dahesh Museum of Art; as well as opera galas for Pacific Opera Victoria, Vancouver Opera, Orquesta Sinfonica de Xalapa, and Canada's Oakville Symphony.
Ms. Graham has recently been included on the Brampton Arts Walk of Fame in her hometown of Brampton, Ontario, honoring those who have achieved excellence in the arts and entertainment industry. She previously was the first-place winner of the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition in the Wagner Division; the first-place winner of the Joyce Dutka Competition; a recipient of a Sullivan Foundation Grant; a first-place winner in the Wagner Division of the Liederkranz Competition, winner of the Jean Chalmers prize in the Canadian Music Competition, winner of the Edward Johnson Competition, and first place recipient of the Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques Competition.
|Photo by Jeremy Reed|
During the 2015-2016 season this exciting tenor joins Nashville Opera as Calaf in Turandot, Sarasota Opera as Radames in Aida, and finally Knoxville Opera and Central City Opera as Cavaradossi in Tosca. During the previous season Mr. Burton took the stage as Dick Johnson in La Fanciulla del West with Des Moines Metro Opera where Opera Today raved "Jonathan Burton poured out impassioned, emotionally generous phrases as Dick Johnson (Ramerrez). Mr. Burton has an exciting squillo in his full-bodied tenor that is riveting. But Mr. Burton can also exude a persuasive charm as he croons gentler phrases and caresses them with a knowing legato". Additional engagements during the season included Manrico in Il Trovatore with Knoxville Opera, the title role in Don Carlos with Sarasota Opera, and both Dick Johnson in La Fanciulla del West and Florestan in Fidelio with Kentucky Opera. On the concert stage he made his debut with the Munich Philharmonic.
During the 2013-2014 season, he took the stage as Don Jose in Carmen with Opera Omaha and Tulsa Opera where he was praised for a performance that was "bright, crisp and confident" (Tulsa World), Cavoradossi in Tosca with Dayton Opera, as Calaf in Turandot with Utah Opera, Canio in I Pagliacci with Opera Naples, and Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with the Castleton Festival.
Mr. Burton made his European debut during the 2012-2013 season as Dick Johnson in Fanciulla del West with Sinfónica de Galicia under the baton of Lorin Maazel. He later reprised the role at the Castleton Festival where Opera News wrote that he delivered the role with "an attractively beefy tone". Additional engagements during the season included portraying Cavaradossi in Tosca with Kentucky Opera, Calaf in Turandot with Sarasota Opera and Rodolfo in La bohème with the Royal Opera House Muscat in Oman where he "was charming as Rodolfo. His voice was strong and passionate, and as Rodolfo he was smitten and sweet" (Times of Oman).
Additional highlights of recent seasons include Cavaradossi in Tosca with Annapolis Opera, Opera New Jersey, Utah Festival Opera and Opera on the James, Don José in Carmen with Central City Opera, Lyric Opera of Virginia, and Opera Omaha, Rodolfo in La bohème with Palm Beach Opera and the Castleton Festival, Canio in Pagliacci with Annapolis Opera, and Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with Phoenix Opera. He portrayed Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with Opera on the James and Shreveport Opera. In addition, he has performed numerous supporting roles with Florida Grand Opera, Opera Omaha, and Palm Beach Opera, and during his formative years he performed in over twenty leading roles with the Southern Ohio Light Opera Company, in roles ranging from Alfred in Die Fledermaus, to Camille in The Merry Widow, and Caliph in Kismet. On the concert stage he has been engaged by the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra to sing Rene Clausen's A New Creation, the Lexington Philharmonic for Beethoven's Symphony No.9, Southern Ohio Symphony Orchestra for Handel's Messiah and Mendelssohn's Elijah, and the Springfield Symphony Orchestra for Verdi's Requiem. Mr. Burton studied at Westminster Choir College and the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati and was a member of Florida Grand Opera's Young Artist Program.
Guanqun Yu (b. 1982) is one of the most promising sopranos of the younger generation and appears regularly at big opera houses worldwide.
Born and educated in China, Yu already sang big roles as Pamina (Die Zauberflöte) and Gilda (Rigoletto) as part of the opera education programme during her studies in Shandong and Shanghai and participated in concerts at important events.
She finally became known outside of China by winning the first price at the famous Belvedere Singing Competition.
In September 2008 Yu became a member of the opera studio at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna where she sang many roles of the Italian repertoire. In June 2010 she debuted in Honegger's Jean d'Arc under the baton of Bertrand de Billy at the Musikverein Wien. This was followed, amongst others, by Mimi (La Bohème) at the Pacific Festival in Sapporo conducted by Fabio Luisi and Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni) in Bologna. In spring 2012 she sang Lina in Stiffelio at the Teatro Regio di Parma, which was also published on DVD.
Invited by the Metropolitan Opera, Yu gave her debut in New York in fall 2012 with a highly celebrated Trovatore-Leonora which she had already sung at the Verdi Festival Teatro Giuseppe Verdi in Busseto in summer. The same year she was the award recipient of the Placido Domingo Operalia Singing Competition and on Domingo's wish she sang on his side as Lucrezia in Verdis I due Foscari at Palau de les Arts Valencia. During the same season she returned to Valencia as Desdemona (Otello) under the baton of Zubin Metha. In summer 2013 Yu gave her debut as Countess Almaviva (Le Nozze di Figaro) at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing and as Anna (Nabucco), also on the side of Placido Domingo. In 2013-2014 she returned to the Metropolitan Opera New York as Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte) and to Valencia as Maria Boccanegra (Simon Boccanegra) amongst others.
Moreover Yu debuted at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, when she agreed o fill in at the last minute and gave a startling performance as Desdemona (Otello).
In 2014-2015 Yu was Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte) and Desdemona (Otello) at Oper Köln, debuted as Nedda (Pagliacci) at the Staatstheater Klagenfurt and as Rosina at the Los Angeles Opera in the sequel opera productions Ghosts of Versailles and Le Nozze di Figaro.
Furthermore she was Liù (Turandot) at the Bregenzer Festspiele and Maria Boccanegra at Oper Frankfurt and Semperoper Dresden. Future engagements will lead Yu to Berlin (Pagliacci), Zurich (Boheme), Marseille (Così fan tutte), as well as once more to the Bregenzer Festspiele.
She will also debut in Munich as Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro.
|Photo by Virginio Ledrio|
Bignamini was born in 1976 in Crema and studied at the Piacenza Music Conservatory. After his studies, he starts at a very young age to collaborate with several orchestras also as a soloist and concurrently he conducts chamber groups, symphonic and operatic orchestras.
In the autumn of 2012 he participates for the second consecutive time in the MITO Festival with Berlioz's Messe Solennelle. He continues his extensive collaboration with laVerdi Orchestra, conducting the season opening and many other performances with operatic and symphonic programs (Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Glinka, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, Ravel, Respighi, Rimsky-Korsakov, Paganini, Piazzolla, Stravinsky, Vivaldi) both in Milan and on tour in Russia (Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow and Glinka Philharmonic Hall in St Petersburg), collaborating with soloists such as Karen Gomyo, Francesca Dego, Natasha Korsakova, Kolya Blacher and Lylia Zilberstein.
Bignamini makes his symphonic debuts at the Otsu Biwako Hall in Japan, at the Teatro Municipal de Sao Paulo, Brasil, with the Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana in Palermo and with Maggio Musicale in Florence.
In the 2013-2014 season, Bignamini opens the 39th Festival della Valle d’Itria in Martina Franca with Crispino e la Comare, the 20th Symphonic Season of laVerdi and the 2013 Verdi Festival in Parma with Simon Boccanegra – after which the Teatro Regio (Parma) invited him to lead the next three festival productions, and he was the assistant conductor of Riccardo Chailly for the Mahler Symphony No.8 in Milan in November 2013.
Besides conducting symphonic concerts and the Verdi Requiem with laVerdi, highlights of Bignamini's current season include the opening concert of the Orchestra Filarmonica del Teatro Comunale di Bologna with Carmina Burana, La Bohéme at the Municipal de Sao Paulo and La Fenice, L'Elisir D'Amore in Ancona, Tosca at the Comunale di Bologna, La Forza del Destino at the Verdi Festival in Parma, La Bohéme and Cavalleria Rusticana with L'Amor Brujo at Teatro Filarmonico di Verona.
In the last operatic season, he conducted productions of Aida at Rome's Teatro dell'Opera, Madama Butterfly at La Fenice, and he made his North American operatic debut with Rigoletto at the Santa Fe Opera in New Mexico and in september he had his debut at La Scala for a concert.
After his last success in Frankfurt with Oberto conte di San Bonifacio by Verdi, in this season Bignamini will conduct the Orchestra laVerdi in symphonic concerts and a long tour of concerts in Asia with Mrs Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov.
Regarding opera highlights in 2016 among others he had Andrea Chénier at the Tokyo National Opera, Traviata at Rome's Teatro dell'Opera with the direction by Sofia Coppola and Traviata at the Arena of Verona.
During summer 2016 he will have his debut at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro conducting Ciro in Babilonia by Rossini, at Teatro Massimo of Palermo with Madama Butterfly in Palermo, and at the Bolshoi conduction Manon Lescaut with Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov.
Next season he will be again in Rome and Frankfurt for Il Trovatore and in Moscow for the revival of Manon Lescaut.
|Leonard Slatkin (Photo by Donald Dietz)|
The 2017-2018 season marks Leonard Slatkin's tenth and final year as Music Director of the DSO before he transitions to the new role of Music Director Laureate. Maestro Slatkin's commitment to new music, reaching audiences in new ways, and the American orchestral tradition has had a transformational effect on the DSO. On Friday, May 4, Slatkin announced that he would need to undergo heart surgery and withdraw from conducting the final Classical Series concerts of his tenth anniversary season. As Music Director Laureate, Leonard will conduct eight programs in the 2018-2019 season, including Opening Weekend, the February American Festival, and the season finale in June.
On June 23, the DSO will honor Slatkin at its eighth annual Heroes Gala alongside philanthropists and longtime DSO supporters Penny and Harold Blumenstein. Additional details about the Heroes Gala will be announced in the near future.
The DSO Classical Series is generously sponsored by PVS Chemicals, Inc. The May 31 - June 2 Rite of Spring performances are additionally supported by Honigman LLP.
|Othalie Graham and Jonathan Burton in Nashville Opera's Turandot (2015).|
Photo by Reed Hummell
Giacomo Puccini: Turandot
Puccini was nearing the completion of Turandot, when he died in rather short order following surgery for throat cancer. At the behest of Arturo Toscanini, Franco Alfano, a former student of Puccini, finished the opera – the final duet and last scene – using Puccini's sketches. Turandot was premiered on April 25, 1926, at Il Teatro alla Scala in Milan, in a performance led by Toscanini; strangely enough, the maestro did not then use Alfano's ending, instead ending the performance where Puccini's finished score left off.
Turandot's libretto was fashioned by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni, based on Schiller's adaptation of a Carlo Gozzi drama. The story is set in Imperial China, Act One beginning near the walls of Beijing. A royal edict from Princess Turandot, daughter of the Emperor, is read: she will marry the first man of royal blood able to answer three riddles. Failure by the suitor will result in his death. Accompanied by his slave girl Liu, the old vanquished Tartar king, Timur, now blind, falls to the ground. Prince Calaf comes to his aid and recognizes him as his father, with whom he had lost contact. The crowd gathering outside cries for the head of the latest failed suitor, the Prince of Persia. Calaf becomes enraged at Turandot's cruelty in requiring the executions, but when he sees her, he becomes instantly enamored of her. Over the objections of Timur and Liu, Calaf seeks to answer the three riddles, which he does successfully. Turandot begs her father for release from the terms of the edict, but is refused. Calaf, however, offers to sacrifice his life if she can learn his name before dawn. Liu and Timur are brought to Turandot, but the latter commits suicide rather than divulge his name. Later Calaf, alone with Turandot, kisses her passionately and then trusts in her sudden change of heart by revealing his name. They later appear before the Emperor and Turandot discloses his name – Love.
Puccini's score features his usual quota of popular numbers and brilliant scoring. There are effective choruses, as well: "Muoia! Noi vogliamo il carnefice", sung when the crowd calls for the execution of the Prince of Persia, and in the dark and atmospheric "Arrota! Che la lama guizzi", sung by the executioner's assistants. But it is the individual numbers that are best known in this opera. Liu's "Signore Ascolta" is the slave girl's beautiful attempt to dissuade Calaf from seeking to be Turandot's suitor. His heartfelt response to her comes with his "Non pangiere, Liu".
The most famous aria in the opera, though, is "Nessun dorma", sung by Calaf, confident Turandot will not learn his name. As for this composition's artistic worth, Turandot may well be Puccini's finest opera.
Source: Robert Cummings (allmusic.com)
|Jonathan Burton as Calaf in Nashville Opera's Turandot (2015). Photo by Reed Hummell|
Giacomo Puccini: Turandot – Mlada Khudoley, Riccardo Massi, Guanqun Yu, Michael Ryssov – Wiener Symphoniker, Paolo Carignani – Marco Arturo Marelli (Bregenz Festival 2015 – Download the opera)
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