Press Room

03-22-2013

The Philadelphia Orchestra and Opera Philadelphia Join Forces in First-Ever Co-Production: Richard Strauss’s SALOME

CONTACT: Frank Luzi 215.893.5902 luzi@operaphila.org
 
Initial Partnership Brings Together Innovative Opera Producer and Renowned Orchestra
 

(Philadelphia, March 25, 2013)—Richard B. Worley, chairman of The Philadelphia Orchestra, joined Opera Philadelphia chairman Daniel K. Meyer today to announce plans for a first-ever artistic collaboration in the 2013-14 season—a theatrically-inspired production of Richard Strauss’s compelling and provocative masterpiece, Salome. The performances, set to take place on Thursday, May 8, and Saturday, May 10, 2014, in the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall, will be led by Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. With this initial collaboration, The Philadelphia Orchestra and Opera Philadelphia reinforce their strong commitment to delivering more diverse offerings to audiences in Philadelphia and beyond through groundbreaking performances and innovative collaborations. This new partnership leverages Opera Philadelphia’s reputation as a dynamic producer of theatrical opera, and The Philadelphia Orchestra’s standing as one of the preeminent orchestras in the world.

In addition to his symphonic concerts in Philadelphia and on the world’s most prestigious podiums, Yannick Nézet-Séguin is increasingly known and admired for his work in the great opera houses of the world. He brings his unbridled passion for opera to this project—drawing on his close relationships with a constellation of internationally-acclaimed vocalists, including soprano Camilla Nylund (Salome), mezzo-soprano Birgit Remmert (Herodias), tenor John Mac Master (Herod), and bass-baritone Alan Held (John the Baptist). As The Philadelphia Orchestra commemorates the 150th anniversary of Richard Strauss’s birth in its 2013-14 season, the multi-year celebration—of which Salome is the hallmarkproduction—also features an array of the composer’s works, including tone poems, concertos, a serenade, and more. May 2014 will mark the first complete performances of Salome by The Philadelphia Orchestra. 

Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin commented: “Salome is to me one of the greatest masterpieces written in the 20th century, and bringing this great operatic score to Philadelphia Orchestra audiences is special on its own.  To now work closely with Opera Philadelphia to create a theatrical environment around the music makes this project even more exceptional. This will be a unique and dramatic telling of the story of Salome that will mesmerize both Orchestra and Opera audiences. I am thrilled to begin my journey with the Orchestra into the world of opera by working together with our new partners at Opera Philadelphia.”

“I am so ecstatic that two of Philadelphia’s iconic performing arts organizations will be sharing the stage of Verizon Hall in 2014,” said David B. Devan, General Director and President of Opera Philadelphia. “This partnership is born out of a genuine alignment between our two companies’ shared artistic goals, and together we will be creating an amazing moment of civic pride for our city.  Salome will broaden the operatic experience for our audience, perfectly complementing our 2013-2014 season’s large-scale operas in the Academy of Music and the intimate chamber works of the Aurora Series at the Perelman Theater. I am confident that our staging of Salome will allow audiences to follow this well-known story in an exciting, thought-provoking setting.” 

In recent seasons Opera Philadelphia has been recognized nationally for its innovative production design and collaborative partnerships, exemplified by the 2012 production of Puccini’s La bohème, in collaboration with the Barnes Foundation and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Extending the company’s production footprint from the Academy of Music and Perelman Theater into Verizon Hall for Salome is a natural extension of the Opera’s mission to present both traditional and contemporary opera in innovative, engaging ways.

“This is a thrilling time for us as we prepare to join forces with one of Philadelphia’s flagship cultural organizations in a project that will combine and advance our shared institutional goals of artistic growth, innovation, and reinvigorated concert experiences,” said Allison Vulgamore, Philadelphia Orchestra CEO and president. “We are incredibly fortunate and proud to have an organization such as Opera Philadelphia to partner with in this exciting initiative, and look forward to giving audiences everywhere an even more compelling reason to visit Philadelphia and experience everything it has to offer as a musical destination.”

Considered scandalous when it premiered in 1905, and banned for years in the U.S. and elsewhere, Strauss’s adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s play is among the most important musical works of the 20th century. Mahler, who attended the 1906 premiere along with Puccini, Zemlinsky, and Schoenberg, praised the piece as “one of the greatest masterworks of our time.” This fast-paced, one-act opera is known as much for its revolutionary use of large-scale orchestra and virtuosic singers as it is for its graphic depiction of this deeply psychological tale. At the core of this erotically-charged opera set in biblical times exists a tangled and disturbed triangle: the persecuted John the Baptist, a lecherous King Herod, and the monarch’s pathologically seductive stepdaughter, Salome, who eventually demands the head of the imprisoned prophet on a silver platter. This virtuosic score of massive proportions culminates with the famous and controversial “Dance of the Seven Veils,” as well as an explicit scene with the beheaded prisoner.

A production team comprised of stage director Kevin Newbury and designer Vita Tzykun gives this age-old biblical tale a timeless treatment, transforming Verizon Hall with custom-built design and staging elements, stylized costumes, theatrical lighting, and innovative design elements such as sculptural pieces integrated into the hall’s architecture. The result is a completely immersive, 4-D concert environment—one that transports the audience into the heart of the action, with the musical score as the driving force.

Kevin Newbury, whose productions have been staged by many of the world’s top opera companies and symphonies, believes Salome is ideally suited to a theatrical symphonic staging. “The opera features gorgeous music, rich characters, and a potent story about sex, greed, and morality,” said Newbury. “Opera audiences are usually denied the opportunity to actually see the orchestra playing a score. A staging in a symphonic setting allows us to feature the music front and center. The orchestra itself plays a major character both musically and theatrically.”

Newbury and Tzykun are drawing inspiration from the architecture of the Kimmel Center. They arealso using the “symbols of terror” in the opera for inspiration: the gaping mouth of the cistern; Salome’s virginal white veils; and, most importantly, the moon. 

The role of Salome will be performed by Finnish soprano Camilla Nylund, who has performed leading roles at La Scala, Covent Garden, the Salzburg Festival, and the Vienna State Opera.  American bass-baritone Alan Held is Jochanaan, a role he has sung to critical acclaim at the Saito Kinen Festival in Japan, the Vienna State Opera, the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, and in Baden-Baden, Germany. Tenor John Mac Master is familiar to Philadelphia opera audiences for creating the role of Casey in Richard Danielpour’s Margaret Garner. He has triumphed as Herod in Frankfurt and Stuttgart and has performed the role of the twisted king with San Francisco Opera, Vancouver Opera, New Orleans Opera, and Montreal Opera. German mezzo-soprano Birgit Remmert, who has performed numerous Strauss and Wagner roles at the Bayreuth Festival, Zurich Opera, and the Vienna State Opera, will sing the role of Herodias.

Both The Philadelphia Orchestra and Opera Philadelphia maintain strong relationships with cultural and arts organizations on the regional and national level. Since Orchestra President and CEO Allison Vulgamore’s arrival in 2010 The Philadelphia Orchestra has reinvigorated or launched newpartnerships with the Pennsylvania Ballet, Philadelphia Live Arts (Fringe Festival), the Marian Anderson Award, Philadanco, the Ridge Theater Company, the Curtis Institute of Music, and stage director James Alexander, among others.Opera Philadelphia boasts a strong partnership with the Curtis Institute of Music, with which they stage an annual Curtis Opera Theatre production in the Perelman Theater. The Opera also partners with Art Sanctuary on the exciting Hip H’opera project and launched an innovative operatic Composer in Residence program in collaboration with Gotham Chamber Opera and Music-Theatre Group in New York.Now, Opera Philadelphia and The Philadelphia Orchestra will leverage talent and audiences with their new joint collaboration.

2013-14 season subscribers may purchase tickets to Salome as an add-on to their Philadelphia Orchestra or Opera Philadelphia subscription by visiting www.philorch.org/2014 or by calling 215.893.1955. Individual tickets will be made available for purchase at a later date.

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Renowned for its distinctive sound, beloved for its keen ability to capture the hearts and imaginations of audiences, and admired for an unrivaled legacy of “firsts” in music-making, The Philadelphia Orchestra is one of the preeminent orchestras in the world.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin becomes the eighth music director of The Philadelphia Orchestra beginning in the 2012-13 season and brings a vision that extends beyond symphonic music into the vivid world of opera and choral music. He follows an extraordinary history of artistic leaders in the Orchestra’s 112 seasons, including music directors Fritz Scheel, Carl Pohlig, Leopold Stokowski, Eugene Ormandy, Riccardo Muti, Wolfgang Sawallisch, and Christoph Eschenbach, and Charles Dutoit, who served as chief conductor from 2008 to 2012.

Philadelphia is home and the Orchestra nurtures an important relationship not only with patrons who support the main season at the Kimmel Center but also those who enjoy the Orchestra’s other area performances at the Mann Center, Penn’s Landing, and other venues. The Philadelphia Orchestra Association also continues to own the Academy of Music, a National Historic Landmark.

Through concerts, tours, residencies, presentations, and recordings, the Orchestra is a global ambassador for Philadelphia and for the U.S. Having been the first American orchestra to perform in China, in 1973 at the request of President Nixon, today The Philadelphia Orchestra boasts a new partnership with the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing. The Orchestra annually performs at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center while also enjoying a three-week residency in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and a strong partnership with the Bravo! Vail festival.

The ensemble recently joined with SpectiCast to deliver simulcasts of Orchestra concerts into theaters, schools, and performing arts centers. The Orchestra also recently announced a partnership with WRTI (90.1 FM) to broadcast pre-recorded versions of its subscription concerts from February through May 2013. The ensemble maintains an important Philadelphia tradition of presenting educational programs for students of all ages. Today the Orchestra executes a myriad of education and community partnership programs serving nearly 50,000 annually, including its Neighborhood Concert Series, Sound All Around and Family Concerts, and eZseatU. In February 2013 the Orchestra announced a recording project with Deutsche Grammophon, in which Yannick and the ensemble will record Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.

For more information on The Philadelphia Orchestra, please visit www.philorch.org.

Opera Philadelphia

Opera Philadelphia creates outstanding productions of both classic and new operatic works that resonate within the community, assembles the finest international creative artists, and presents a wide array of programming that educates, deepens, and diversifies the opera audience in Philadelphia and beyond. Performance offerings include large-scale works at the historic Academy of Music, intimate chamber operas as part of the Aurora Series for Chamber Opera at the Perelman Theater, and frequent community performances that focus on creative partnerships and enhanced accessibility. 

The remainder of the 2012–13 season features productions of The Magic Flute (April 19-28, 2013) at the Academy of Music and the Philadelphia premiere of Thomas Adès’s Powder Her Face (June 7-16, 2013) as part of the Aurora Series at the Perelman Theater, which is generously underwritten by Wyncote Foundation. Through the American Repertoire Program, the Opera has committed to producing a new American work over ten seasons, with new operas in development such as Ricky Ian Gordon’s A Coffin in Egypt (2014), Theo Morrison’s Oscar (2015), and Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain (2016). Opera Philadelphia also has world’s most comprehensive Composer In Residence program, with talented composers Lembit Beecher and Missy Mazzoli each working with the company for three years of intensive, hands-on work to develop an understanding of the many facets of developing and producing opera. For information, call 215.732.8400 or visit www.operaphila.org.

 

SALOME

May 8 at 8:00 PM – Thursday evening — Verizon Hall at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts

May 10 at 8:00 PM – Saturday evening — Verizon Hall at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts

The Philadelphia Orchestra and Opera Philadelphia

Yannick Nézet-Séguin Conductor

Camilla Nylund Soprano (Salome) – Philadelphia Orchestra & Opera Philadelphia Debut

Birgit Remmert Mezzo-soprano (Herodias) – Opera Philadelphia Debut

John Mac Master Tenor (Herod) – Philadelphia Orchestra Subscription Debut

Alan Held Bass-baritone (Jochanaan) – Opera Philadelphia Debut

Kevin Newbury Director

Vita Tzykun Production Design

Performed in German with English supertitles