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Boston Symphony OrchestraAndris Nelsons conducts Elgar and Puts featuring Renée Fleming and Rod Gilfry

Boston Symphony Orchestra
Andris Nelsons conducts Elgar and Puts featuring Renée Fleming and Rod Gilfry


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The letters of iconic American artist Georgia O’Keeffe and her husband, the photographer and curator Alfred Stieglitz, are full of poetry, humor, passion, pain, and longing. Written over the many months and years they lived apart, these letters chronicle their initial flirtations in 1915—when Georgia was a young, aspiring artist—to Alfred’s death in 1946. Written especially for Renée Fleming and Rod Gilfry, and accompanied by projections by Wendall Harrington, The Brightness of Light is the story of a great artist who ultimately turns from a painful marriage to embrace her work and the desert landscape she loves.


Featured Performers

Andris Nelsons, conductor
Andris Nelsons, conductor View biography in full page >

Andris Nelsons is the newly appointed Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, starting from the 2014/2015 season. He will act as Music Director Designate for the BSO's 2013/2014 season. Andris Nelsons made his Boston Symphony Orchestra debut in March 2011, leading Mahler's Symphony no. 9 at Carnegie Hall. Last summer, Nelsons made his debut at Tanglewood, and in January 2013, he made his Symphony Hall debut. This new appointment cements Andris Nelsons as one of the most sought-after conductors on the international scene today, a distinguished name both on the opera and concert podiums.  

Nelsons has been Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra since 2008 and remains at the helm of orchestra until Summer 2015, enjoying critically acclaimed seasons and an outstanding tenure. With the CBSO, he undertakes major tours worldwide, including regular appearances at such summer festivals as Lucerne Festival, BBC Proms and Berliner Festspiele. Together they have toured the major European concert halls, including the Musikverein, Vienna, Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Paris, Gasteig, Munich and the Auditorio Nacional de Música, Madrid. Nelsons made his debut in Japan, on tour with Wiener Philharmoniker, and returned to tour Japan and the Far East with the CBSO in November 2013. 

Over the next few seasons he will continue collaborations with Berliner Philharmoniker, Wiener Philharmoniker, Het Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks and Philharmonia Orchestra.

Andris Nelsons is a regular guest at Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Wiener Staatsoper and the Metropolitan Opera New York. In summer 2014 he returns to Bayreuther Festspiele as Musical Director for Lohengrin, in a production directed by Hans Neuenfels, which Nelsons premiered in Bayreuth in 2010.

With the CBSO, Nelsons has an exciting recording collaboration with Orfeo International: they are working towards releasing all orchestral works by Tchaikovsky and all those by R. Strauss, the first disc of which was praised by The Times: "one of the most sumptuous and refined accounts of 'Ein Heldenleben' ever put on to disc". The majority of Nelsons' recordings are recognised with a Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik and, in October 2011, Andris Nelsons received the prestigious ECHO Klassik of the German Phono Academy in the category "Conductor of the Year" for his recording with CBSO of Stravinsky's 'Firebird' and 'Symphony of Psalms'. For audiovisual recordings, he has an exclusive agreement with Unitel GmbH, the most recent release is a disc including Dvorak, entitled From The New World with Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, released on DVD and Blu-ray in June 2013.

Born in Riga in 1978 into a family of musicians, Andris Nelsons began his career as a trumpeter in the Latvian National Opera Orchestra before studying conducting. He was Principal Conductor of Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Herford, Germany 2006-2009 and Music Director of Latvian National Opera 2003-2007.

Andris Nelsons, conductor Renée Fleming, soprano
Renée Fleming, soprano View biography in full page >

Renée Fleming is one of the most acclaimed singers of our time. In 2013, President Obama awarded her America's highest honor for an individual artist, the National Medal of Arts. Winner of the 2013 Best Classical Vocal Grammy Award, she has sung at momentous occasions around the world, from the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony to performances in Beijing during the 2008 Olympic Games. In 2014 she became the first classical singer ever to perform "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the Super Bowl. In 2012, in another historic first, she sang on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in the Diamond Jubilee Concert for HM Queen Elizabeth II. In 2009, Renée was featured in the televised We Are One: The Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial concert for President Obama. She has performed for the United States Supreme Court, and in 2014 she celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in a televised concert at the Brandenburg Gate. Another distinction was bestowed in 2008 when, breaking a precedent, Renée became the first woman in the 125-year history of the Metropolitan Opera to solo headline an opening night gala.

On New Year's Eve, Renée appeared in the title role in a new production of The Merry Widow at the Metropolitan Opera. In April, she made her Broadway theater debut in Living on Love, for which she was nominated for a Drama League Award. She has appeared in virtually all of the world's greatest opera houses and concert halls. Renée's recital schedule in recent years has spanned the globe, including Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Quito, Bogota, Paris, Geneva, London, Vienna, Hong Kong, Beijing, Guangzhou, and Taipei.

Renée won her fourth Grammy Award for her album Poèmes. Recipient of 14 Grammy nominations to date, she has recorded everything from complete operas and song recitals to an album of indie rock covers, Dark Hope, the jazz album Haunted Heart and the movie soundtrack of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Known for bringing new audiences to classical music and opera, Renée has sung not only with Luciano Pavarotti and Plácido Domingo but also with Elton John, Sting, Lou Reed, Josh Groban, Joan Baez and even the Muppets.

Her recent opera dvds include Strauss's Arabella and Ariadne auf Naxos, and Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia. Other recent DVD releases include Handel's Rodelinda, Massenet's Thaïs and Rossini's Armida, all three in the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD series, and Verdi's La Traviata, filmed at London's Royal Opera House.

With a multimedia profile rare among contemporary opera singers, Renée has hosted a wide variety of television and radio broadcasts, including the Metropolitan Opera's Live in HD series for movie theaters and television, and Live from Lincoln Center on PBS. She was the subject of an HBO Masterclass documentary, and has been a frequent guest on Prairie Home Companion on National Public Radio. In 2013, she joined with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to present American Voices, a concert and 3-day festival celebrating the best American singing in all genres. The festival was the subject of a Great Performances documentary on PBS in January.

Her book The Inner Voice was published by Viking Penguin in 2004, and released in paperback by Penguin the following year. An intimate account of her career and creative process, the book is now in its 12th US printing, and it is also published in France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, and Russia. A Polish edition will be released this autumn.

Renée is a champion of new music and has performed works by a wide range of contemporary composers, including recent compositions by Anders Hillborg, Henri Dutilleux, Brad Mehldau, André Previn, and Wayne Shorter.

In 2010, Renée was named the first-ever creative consultant at Lyric Opera of Chicago. She is currently curating the creation of a world-premiere opera based on the best-seller Bel Canto for Lyric Opera's 2015-2016 season. She is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Hall Corporation, the Board of Sing for Hope, and the Artistic Advisory Board of the Polyphony Foundation. Among her awards are the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, the Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur, Germany's Cross of the Order of Merit, Honorary Membership in the Royal Academy of Music, Sweden's Polar Music Prize, and honorary doctorates from Duke University, Harvard University, Carnegie Mellon University, the Eastman School of Music, and The Juilliard School.

Renée Fleming, soprano
Rod Gilfry, baritone
Rod Gilfry, baritone View biography in full page >

American baritone Rod Gilfry, two-time Grammy award nominee, singer and actor, has performed in all the world's music capitals. His most recent Grammy award nomination was for his performance in the title role of Messiaen's monumental opera Saint François d'Assise in Amsterdam. Best-known as an opera singer, he is also an acclaimed recitalist and concert artist, and appears frequently in musical theater classics. His discography of 28 audio and video recordings includes the DVD and CD of his one-man show My Heart is So Full of You. His radio program, Opera Notes on Air, aired on K-Mozart 105.1 FM in Los Angeles for over three years. With a 77-role repertoire, Mr. Gilfry sings music from the Baroque to that composed expressly for him. He was brought to worldwide attention when he created the role of Stanley Kowalski in the 1998 premiere of André Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire at the San Francisco Opera, opposite Renée Fleming. Other world premieres include Nicholas in Deborah Drattel's Nicholas and Alexandra (Los Angeles, opposite Placido Domingo); Nathan in Nicholas Maw's Sophie's Choice (London, Washington D.C.); Jack London in Libby Larsen's Every Man Jack (Sonoma, CA); Edward Gaines in Richard Danielpour's Margaret Garner (Detroit, Cincinnati, Philadelphia), the title role in Marc-André Dalbavie's Gesualdo (Zurich), and Master Chen in Christian Jost's Die Rote Laterne (Zurich). Most recently, he originated the role of Walt Whitman in Matthew Aucoin’s Crossing in Boston, Claudius in Brett Dean’s Hamlet with Glyndebourne Festival, Mr. Potter in Jake Heggie’s It’s a Wonderful Life in Houston, and David Lang’s the loser in New York City.

Mr. Gilfry’s 2018-2019 season will include the role of Prospero in Katie Mitchell’s production of Miranda with the Opéra Comique on tour at the Opéra National de Bordeaux and Théâtre de Caen. He reprises his role in It’s a Wonderful Life at San Francisco Opera and Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte at Santa Fe Opera conducted by Harry Bicket, and at Korea National Opera, as well as the loser at Los Angeles Opera. Concert highlights include Mozart’s Requiem and Kirchner’s Songs of Ascent with the Los Angeles Chorale, and excerpts from Crossing at the American Civil War Museum with Matthew Aucoin playing piano.

In the 2017-2018 season, Mr. Gilfry returned to The Metropolitan Opera to sing Alberto Roc in the American premiere of Thomas Adès’s The Exterminating Angel and the Santa Fe Opera to sing the Musiklehrer in Ariadne auf Naxos. He also reprised his acclaimed performance in Crossing at the Los Angeles Opera and Brooklyn Academy of Music, as well as Brett Dean’s Hamlet at the Adelaide Festival. In concert, he sang Elijah with the Phoenix Symphony, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Pacific Symphony, and a concert of Mozart arias with the San Bernardino Symphony. He gave a Broadway standards concert with Sylvia McNair and Kevin Cole at the Ravinia Festival, as well as a recital and series of masterclasses at James Madison University as part of the National Association of Teachers and Singing (NATS) convention.

In previous seasons, Mr. Gilfry has performed the role of Howard K. Stern in Mark-Anthony Turnage's Anna Nicole with the New York City Opera and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, a return to the Metropolitan Opera as Danilo in a new production of The Merry Widow opposite Susan Graham, Peter in Hansel and Gretel with the Alabama Symphony, the title role in Don Giovanni and Don Alphonso at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, Wotan in Das Rheingold at the Biwako Hall Center for the Performing Arts in Shiga, Japan, concerts with the San Francisco Symphony in music of Thomas Adès and Felix Mendelssohn, performances with the Dallas Symphony as Lyndon Baines Johnson in Steven Stucky's August 4th, 1964 in Dallas and at Carnegie Hall, and selections from Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn with the Grand Rapids Symphony. He sang the title role in Sondheim's Sweeney Todd at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris and with Opera Theatre of St Louis, Frank Butler to Deborah Voigt's Annie in Annie Get Your Gun at the Glimmerglass Festival, and Brahm's Ein deutsches Requiem at the Oregon Bach Festival. He appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel for the final installment of their Mozart/Da Ponte Trilogy as Don Alfonso.

Mr. Gilfry devoted an entire season to the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein, starring as Emile de Becque in the U.S. National Tour of the Lincoln Center production of South Pacific, a production that garnered 7 Tony awards. He also appeared as Captain von Trapp with the Théâtre du Châtelet in The Sound of Music, with his daughter Carin Gilfry in the role of his daughter Liesl.

In addition to his full-time performance schedule, Mr. Gilfry is an Associate Professor of Vocal Arts at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music.

Rod Gilfry, baritone Wendall Harrington, video artist Wendall Harrington, video artist
Program Notes Audio
ELGAR - Enigma Variations (33 min)
Kevin PUTS - The Brightness of Light (world premiere; BSO co-commission)
Full Program Notes - PDF