12 and 13 November 2014

R. STRAUSS Josephs Legende, Op. 63

Based on the Old-Testament story of Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife, Richard Strauss’s ballet received its world première at the Paris Opera a century ago, in May 1914. Composed to the libretto of Hofmannsthal and Harry Kessler, the work was commissioned by the impresario of the Ballets Russes, Sergei Diaghilev, at the height of his game. The title role was due to be danced by the idolised, brilliant Vaslav Nijinsky; in the meantime, however, Nijinsky and Diaghilev parted company, so Joseph was danced by Léonide Massine at the première. Gigantic even by Straussian standards, the orchestra includes six horns, four trumpets, four trombones and a quadruple woodwind section (with a contrabass clarinet), several harps, celesta, piano, percussion and a divided string section (three violin, two viola and two cello parts), and poses a considerable technical challenge to the musicians.

The plot of the ballet is as follows. Potiphar and his ice-cold, motionless wife are being entertained in a circle of slaves (Dance of the Women – Sulamith’s Dance: The Most Ardent Desire – The Boxers Break into a sort of Round Dance). The sleeping Joseph is brought in by a procession accompanied by a harp, flutes and strings. The innocent, fifteen-year-old shepherd’s dance and his sky-high leaps pique the interest of Potiphar’s wife. At night she visits Joseph asleep in his chamber and, in the longest, central scene of the work, tries to seduce him. Joseph’s rejection transforms passion into hatred. She has the boy captured and accuses him of attempting to seduce her. Seeking to protect Potiphar’s wife, the slaves dance to a hysterical climax. Potiphar has Joseph chained and wants to have him tortured. A staggering pantomime follows between Potiphar’s wife, struggling with her own fatal passion, and the boy. A supernatural light floods the stage, an archangel appears and Joseph’s chains break off. The angel carries off the boy and Potiphar’s wife strangles herself with her pearl necklace.

Joseph               Gergő Horváth M.
Potiphar’s           Wife Flóra Zsadon
Potiphar             Gergely Czár
Guardian Angel   Tamás Juronics
Dudu                  Vencel Csetényi

And: Kitti Hajszán, Brigitta Hortobágyi, Zsófia Takács, Kata Stáry, Ágnes Markovics, Szandra Szigyártó, Laura Fehér, Anna Bujdosó, Daniella Kollár, Tamás Hegedűs, Róbert Kiss, Gábor Majer, Milán Földesi, Márton Csuzi, László Takács and the dancers of the Hungarian Dancing Academy

Lighting                                 Ferenc Stadler
Scenery design                      Tamás Juronics
Scenery                                Scabello
Costume Bianca                    Imelda Jeremias
Assistant of Choreographer    Gergely Czár
Consultant                            András Almási-Tóth
Choreographer                       Tamás Juronics
Director of Ballet                    András Pataki 
Artistic Director                     Tamás Juronics 

Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra  


Joint-production of the Hungarian National Philharmonic and the Palace of Arts 

10 and 12 October 2013 

R. STRAUSS   Die schweigsame Frau op. 80 (The Silent Woman)  

comic opera in three acts with libretto by Stefan Zweig after Ben Jonson’s Epicoene  
First Hungarian production in German with Hungarian subtitles
Hungarian script by Ferenc Anger 

Íride Martínez          Aminta, the nephew’s wife
Rúni Brattaberg       Sir Morosus, retired admiral 
Temesi Mária          His Housekeeper
Dietrich Henschel    The Barber
Bernhard Berchtold  Henry Morosus, the admiral’s nephew 

Opera singers: Polina Pasztircsák -  Isotta,  Zsófia Kálnay - Carlotta, Lajos Geiger - Morbio,
Tamás Szüle -  Vanuzzi, Krisztián Cser - Farfallo

Hungarian National Choir (chorus master: Mátyás Antal)

Ferenc Anger          director
Éva Szendrényi       scenic design  
Gergely Zöldy Z       costumes design


Joint-production of the Hungarian National Philharmonic and the Palace of Arts

The two most prolific opera composers of the twentieth century were undoubtedly Giacomo Puccini and Richard Strauss. Puccini wrote altogether twelve operas, and his German counterpart, just six years his junior but outliving him by a generation, wrote fifteen. While Richard Strauss composed in almost every genre, symphonies in particular, the Italian master dedicated his career almost entirely to the opera, discounting some music for the church and a few chamber works. Although they had both been born into families of musicians, in his early years Puccini, whose grandfather had also been a noted opera composer, seldom had the chance to hear other than organ music at church and the sprightly marches of the military bands in his native rural Tuscan town of Lucca, near Florence. Born and educated in the capital of Bavaria, Richard Strauss on the other hand became acquainted with the operatic repertoire playing at the Munich Court Opera through his father who was principal horn player there. This variety of genres made a lifelong impression on his creative mind. Regarding the generic wealth of his fifteen operas it seems as though he was summing up his impressions of opera in the form of ‘anthologies’. In the course of his life he worked together with three librettists. The first, Hugo von Hofmannsthal died and was succeeded by Stefan Zweig. However, in mid-Thirties Nazi Germany, in spite of his pleas and objections, Strauss was forced to cut ties with him, so the librettos of his last operas were written by Joseph Gregor; eventually Zweig committed suicide.

It was Stefan Zweig who had suggested the subject of The Silent Woman to the elderly master soon after the two men had first met in November 1931. A true man of the theatre, Strauss instantly took to the evergreen theme that Ben Jonson had also adapted, offering him a brilliant opportunity to create a synthesis of everything he had learnt and thought about nineteenth-century Italian comic opera. Strauss was seventy when he wrote The Silent Woman. Only the greatest composers could create a masterpiece in the genre of comic opera at the end of their life, including some of Strauss’s great predecessors: Monteverdi Verdi, Wagner and the mortally ill Donizetti. In effect, The Silent Woman is none other than a Don Pasquale parody with a touch of The Barber of Seville and Figaro; the latter particularly for the richness of its ensembles. Translucently orchestrated and extremely melodious, The Silent Woman is brimming with musical excerpts and stylistic parody. In a letter written to Zweig in June 1932, Strauss rightly enthused about the libretto of The Silent Woman, saying he thought it was ‘more suitable for music than even Figaro or the Barber of Seville.’ In the libretto the main themes and characters – the elderly miser uncle, the foolish nephew and the seemingly naïve but in fact ambitious girl – follow in Donizetti’s footsteps. However, the plot thickens with ‘volunteer helpers’, such as the shrewd barber from the Barber of Seville sympathising with the young ones, who, in keeping with the opera buffa tradition, is the prime mover of the plot. In terms of the music, the opera follows the elderly Verdi’s suit in that it is constructed from shorter, more fragmented elements rather than large-scale Mozartian melodies. The fact that the composer was well aware of this is clear when he claimed, ‘I am not blessed with long melodies as Mozart was, I only get as far as short themes. But what I do know is how to turn a theme, paraphrase it, extract everything that is in it, and I believe nobody today can do this as well as I can.’

Íride Martínez
Íride Martínez is soloist at the Staatsoper Wien since season 2012/2013. Recently she sang Fiakermilli in ARABELLA at the Opera Bastille in Paris under the conductorship of Philippe Jordan. The Latin-American soprano was born in San José, Costa Rica, and started her international career in Germany where she was a soloist at Cologne Opera from 1995-2002, where she soon evolved to the idol of the public. She was engaged by major orchestras like the Berliner Philharmoniker, Munich Philharmonics, Wiener Symphoniker, orchestra of RAITorino, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and MDR Leipzig under the conductorship of for instance Lorin Maazel, Ivor Bolton, James Conlon, Sir Colin Davis, Semyon Byschkov, Valery Gergjev, Fabio Luisi, René Jacobs or Vladimir Fedosejev. Since July 2011 Íride Martínez also works as a stage director with a new production of CARMEN in her home country.

Rúni Brattaberg
The Faroese Bass Rúni Brattaberg first graduated as a documentary photographer in Copenhagen, before he trained to become a singer. He studied at the Sibelius Akademia in Helsinki from 1997-99 and at the International Operastudio in Zürich from 1999-2000. After his first engagements he was got engaged at the Nationaltheater Mannheim, and simultaneously he sang as a guest !!in the operahouses at most of the European big cities!. May 2011 he replaced Kurt Rydl as Baron Ochs  in Amsterdam, under the baton of  Sir Simon Rattle. Lately he has made his debut at the Opera La Monnaie, the Cincinnati Opera and the Metropolitan Opera, where he was starring as "Titurel" at the Parsifal HD Live transmission worldwide. In the 2013/ 2014 season, he will debut at the Malmoe Opera as Baron Ochs and in Chicago as Titurel. 

Mária Temesi  
The Hungarian Soprano received an opera singer degree with honours from Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, and also studied lied and oratorio at Franz Liszt Musikhochschule, Weimar and the Mozarteum, Salzburg. She has sung a large number of main roles in various famous opera houses and concert halls around the world. Her wide repertoire includes the main roles of the operas written by Mozart, Verdi, Wagner, Puccini, Csajkovszkij and R.Strauss as well as those of the contemporary Hungarian opera composers. Apart from her active opera singer career she is a professor and head of the Vocal Studies Department of the Faculty of Music of the University of Szeged. 

Dietrich Henschel
His repertoire extends from the beginning of baroque opera to modern day avant-garde. He debuted at the Biennale für modernes Musiktheater in Munich. In his first and only permanent engagement, at the opera in Kiel on the other hand he performed classics. His international career began with Busoni´s Doktor Faust in Lyon and Henze´s Prinz von Homburg at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Invitations followed from most of the important opera houses in Europe. He is currently extending his artistic profile beyond his original vocal calling. Being a trained pianist, conductor, and he has also been exploring the intersection between art music, theatre, and the visual media. 

Bernhard Berchtold
The Austrian tenor studied at the Innsbruck Conservatory, continuing his vocal studies at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. During his study period in Salzburg he already managed to establish his name as a concert- and oratorio singer, in the astir Salzburg concert- and sacred music scene. Throughout his career he has been awarded numerous prizes: prize-winner of the International Summer Academy of Salzburg in 1999 with a concert at the renowned Salzburg Festival. In Graz, Bernhard Berchtold won several prizes at the international competition "Franz Schubert and Modern Music", including the special prize for the "Best Interpretation of a Work by Franz Schubert". In the season 2009/10 he had his debut as Henry in Die schweigsame Frau by Richard Strauss with the famous staging of Marco Arturo Marelli at Teatro de la Maestranza Sevilla and the Semperoper Dresden.

11 and 14 March 2013 

R. STRAUSS: CapriccioA Conversation Piece for Music in One Act

Ildikó Raimondi                           the Countess 
Jörg Schneider                           the Composer 
Zsolt Haja                                   Olivier, the Poet 
Franz Hawlata                            La Roche, the Theatre Director 
Bo Skovhus                                the Countess’s brother 
Andrea Meláth                           Clarion, the Actress 
József Csapó                             Monsieur Taupe, the Prompter 
Ágnes Szalai, István Horváth     Italian Singers

László Kálmán, László Lisztes, Zoltán Gavodi, Domonkos Blazsó, György Silló, 
Zoltán Czier, Sándor Boros, László Mokán, the artists of the Hungarian National Choir   - Servants
Hungarian National Choir (chorus master: Mátyás Antal)
Dóra Bizják, Gábor Bartinai           Répétiteurs 
Sylvia Gábor                                  Assistant Director
Markus Pysall                                Stage and Costume Designer 
Rebekka Stanzel                           Director 

ZOLTÁN KOCSIS  conductor 

Joint-production of the Hungarian National Philharmonic and the Palace of Arts Budapest 

“The interpretation by  faith of note and words and congenial improvisation – are brother and sister, as the words and music.” - Dr.Richard Strauss, Wien 7 April 1942, exerpts from the score’s introduction. 

Capriccio was Richard Strauss’s swansong. ‘A conversation piece for music in one act.’ An opera about opera.
There are many stage works about theatre itself. The protagonist of the Hungarian dramatist Ferenc Molnár’s Play at the Castle – which was adapted by P. G. Wodehouse (The Play’s the Thing) and Tom Stoppard (Rough Crossing) – is a playwright himself wondering about how to start and end a play. Capriccio too is set in an aristocratic salon; the protagonists are playing theatre and arguing about theatre. The poet and the composer ask the question: whose role is more important? Both are in love with the Countess. They ask her to resolve the double dilemma, and she suggests the rivals should write an opera about the events in the salon. This leads to the creation of the contemporary opera we are hearing and seeing. It is modern in a Rococo setting, that is, it is eternal. Strauss’s wit sparks nostalgia. Would we be able to devote ourselves to real discussions about art?

         A certain Giovanni Battista Casti wrote the libretto Prima la musica e poi le parole (First the music and then the words, 1786) that served as a basis for Capriccio. Strauss reversed the formula to ‘limit the music to serving the poem’. His libretto was written by the conductor Clemens Krauss, who also conducted the world première in 1942.

                                                                                              Tamás Koltai, critique

This "treat for cultural gourmets" marks Richard Strauss’ farewell from opera composition: "… as much as ever, it is still the best and most dignified conclusion and it will now definitely remain so, for ever and ever, Amen!" www.richardstrauss.at

Ildikó Raimondi

As a member of the Vienna Staatsoper Ildikó Raimondi has been heard in more then 40 opera-roles. She appears in the Wiener  Musikverein regularly and has been a highly acclaimed guest of various opera- and concert-stages, at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Semper-Oper Dresden, the Bayerische Staatsoper Munich and the Zürcher Opernhaus. Her artistic curriculum includes concerts, radio- and TV-appearances in many countries of Europe, in Japan and Israel under the direction of most prominent conductors of our time. She likes to include into her repertoire music of the 20th century. In the 2008/2009 season she performed at the Vienna State Opera  the  Gräfin  in Richard Strauss’ Capriccio.

Franz Hawlata
He is a great comic singer actor who loves experimental stagings. His signature role is Baron Ochs in Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier. The Bayreuth Festival debut came in 2007 as Hans Sachs in Katharina Wagner's new production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. He  studied musicology before entering the Musikhochschule München, where Ernst Haefliger, Hans Hotter and Erik Werba were his teachers. Since 1994 Franz Hawlata is regularly appearing at the Vienna State Oper and he sings at the major opera houses in the world: Metropolitan Opera, La Bastille in Paris, Royal Opera House in London, San Francisco, Chicago, München, Berlin, Brussels, Barcelona, San Diego – and at the Bayreuth Festival. 

Jörg Schneider 
Austrian tenor Jörg Schneider received his first musical education as a member of the Wiener Sängerknaben, and studied singing with Prof. Elfriede Obrowsky in Vienna. He has been a member of the ensemble of Wiener Volksoper since 2007.  He has been invited to appear in several major opera houses, recently he performed in Barcelona  and in the  Maggio Musicale Fiorentino with Zubin Mehta. On the concert platform the artist appeared as a guest of: Royal Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall, Wiener Musikverein, Wiener Konzerthaus, Brucknerhaus Linz, Philharmonie Dresden, Radio France and Concertgebow Amsterdam.

Bo Skovhus
The Denmark-born baritone  studied at the Conservatory in Aarhus, at the Royal Opera Academy in Copenhagen, and in New York. His career began in 1988 at the Volksoper in Vienna. He has been closely associated with the Vienna State Opera for over ten years and he performs regularly recitals and concerts in the Musikverein and Konzerthaus as well. In 1997 he was awarded the title of Austrian Kammersänger. He performs in the major opera houses in Europe, America and Japan with outstanding orchestras and renowned conductors. He devotes himself intensively to lied singing.  He has recorded many of the central roles of his opera and concert repertoireon CD and also a series of recital albums.