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The 2020-2021 season is Andris Nelsons seventh as the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Ray and Maria Stata Music Director. In summer 2015, following his first season as music director, his contract with the BSO was extended through the 2021-22 season. In February 2018 Mr. Nelsons was also named Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. On October 5, 2020, the BSO and GHO jointly announced extensions to Mr. Nelsons current contracts. His contract with the BSO was extended until 2025, and his GHO contract until 2027. An evergreen clause in his BSO contract reflects a mutual intention for a long-term commitment between the BSO and Mr. Nelsons beyond the years of the agreement.
Mr. Nelsons’ two positions, in addition to his leadership of a pioneering alliance between the institutions, have firmly established the Grammy Award-winning conductor as one of the most renowned and innovative artists on the international scene today. In fall 2019 Mr. Nelsons and the BSO hosted the Gewandhausorchester in historic concerts at Symphony Hall that included two performances by the GHO as well as concerts featuring the players of both orchestras together.
In the 2019-20 season, Andris Nelsons led the BSO in repertoire ranging from favorites by Beethoven, Dvořák, Grieg, Mozart, Mahler, Ravel, and Tchaikovsky to world and American premieres of BSO-commissioned works from Eric Nathan, Betsy Jolas, and the Latvian composer Arturs Maskats. The season also brought the continuation of his complete Shostakovich symphony cycle with the orchestra and collaborations with an impressive array of guest artists. Mr. Nelsons’ work with the BSO resumes with his return to Boston at the start of 2021.
Andris Nelsons’ and the BSO’s ongoing series of recordings of the complete Shostakovich symphonies for Deutsche Grammophon has included the composer’s symphonies 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, and 11 (The Year 1905), and most recently a two-disc set pairing Shostakovich’s symphonies 6 and 7 (Leningrad). The cycle has earned three Grammy awards for Best Orchestral Performance and one for Best Engineered Album. The next installment, featuring symphonies nos. 1, 14, and 15 and the Chamber Symphony, Op. 110a (arr. Rudolf Barshai), is scheduled for release in summer 2021. Future releases will go beyond the symphonies to encompass the composer’s concertos for piano, violin, and cello, and his monumental opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District. Mr. Nelsons’ other recordings with the orchestra include the complete Brahms symphonies for the BSO Classics label and a Naxos release of BSO-commissioned world premiere works by four American composers: Timo Andres, Eric Nathan, Sean Shepherd, and George Tsontakis.
The fifteenth music director in the history of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Andris Nelsons made his BSO debut at Carnegie Hall in March 2011, his Tanglewood debut in July 2012, and his BSO subscription series debut in January 2013. In November 2017, Mr. Nelsons and the BSO toured Japan together for the first time. They have so far made three European tours together: immediately following the 2018 Tanglewood season, when they played concerts in London, Hamburg, Berlin, Leipzig, Vienna, Lucerne, Paris, and Amsterdam; in May 2016, a tour that took them to eight cities in Germany, Austria, and Luxembourg; and, after the 2015 Tanglewood season, a tour that took them to major European capitals and the Lucerne, Salzburg, and Grafenegg festivals. A scheduled February 2020 tour to East Asia was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic emergency.
In his capacity as BSO Music Director and Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Mr. Nelsons brings the BSO and GHO together for a unique multi-dimensional alliance including a BSO/GHO Musician Exchange program and an exchange component within each orchestra’s acclaimed academy for advanced music studies. A major aspect of the alliance is a focus on complementary programming, through which the BSO celebrates “Leipzig Week in Boston” and the GHO celebrates “Boston Week in Leipzig,” highlighting each other’s musical traditions through uniquely programmed concerts, chamber music performances, archival exhibits, and lecture series. The two orchestras have jointly commissioned and premiered works from Latvian, American, and German and Austrian composers.
In addition to his Shostakovich recordings with the BSO, Mr. Nelsons’ exclusive partnership with Deutsche Grammophon includes two other major projects. With the Gewandhausorchester he continues his critically acclaimed Bruckner symphonic cycle under the Yellow Label, of which four volumes have been released to date. His recordings of Beethoven’s complete symphonies with the Wiener Philharmoniker were released by Deutsche Grammophon in October 2019.
Mr. Nelsons frequently leads such orchestras as the Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. As an opera conductor, he has made regular guest appearances at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and the Bayreuth Festival. 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 Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (2008-2015), Principal Conductor of Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Herford, Germany (2006-09), and Music Director of the Latvian National Opera (2003-07).
Andris Nelsons, conductor
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American soprano Amber Wagner has been featured in Opera News as one of twenty-five artists poised to break out and become a major force in classical music in the coming decade. In a recent review of Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer at the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Times described her as possessing a “powerful, gleaming and richly expressive voice [which] was ideal for the music.”
Amber Wagner’s 2018-2019 season begins with a return to the Metropolitan Opera, for her role debut as Giorgetta in Il Trittico, conducted by Bertrand de Billy. She returns to Opera Australia to sing the title role in Puccini’s Turandot, and later reprises the role of Sieglinde in Die Walküre with Oper Frankfurt, conducted by Sebastian Weigle.
In the 2017-2018 season, Amber Wagner made her role debut as Aida with Opera Australia. With Sir Andrew Davis, she returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago in the title role of Turandot, a role she debuted with Vancouver Opera earlier in the season. Also with Sir Andrew Davis, Ms. Wagner reprised the role of Sieglinde in concert at the Edinburgh Festival and reprised Senta in Der fliegende Holländer in Rome with the Accademia di Santa Cecilia conducted by Mikko Franck, as well as in Turin with the National RAI Symphony Orchestra conducted by James Conlon. In addition, she returned to the Oregon Symphony to sing Verdi’s Requiem under the baton of Carlos Kalmar.
Operatic highlights of Ms. Wagner’s recent seasons include her company debut with Opera Australia as Sieglinde, and her company debut with the Bayerische Staatsoper in the title role of Ariadne auf Naxos opposite Jonas Kaufmann and conducted by Kirill Petrenko, a role she later reprised for her company debuts with Minnesota Opera and Palm Beach Opera. She returned to the Lyric Opera of Chicago to debut the role of Leonora in Verdi’s Il Trovatore conducted by Asher Fisch, and the role of Elisabeth in Tannhäuser conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. Ms. Wagner returned to the Metropolitan Opera as Senta conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin (to great critical acclaim), and returned to Oper Frankfurt to sing Senta and Sieglende.
Other recent operatic engagements include her European debut with the Prague State Opera as Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde; appearances as Elsa in Lohengrin with Lyric Opera of Chicago conducted by Sir Andrew Davis; Elsa and Senta with the Savonlinna Opera Festival; Leonora in La forza del destino at Washington National Opera in a new production directed by Francesca Zambello, and her return as Amelia in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera conducted by Fabio Luisi; the title role in Ariadne auf Naxos at Lyric Opera of Chicago and in concert performances at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia, both conducted by Mo. Davis, as well as with the Canadian Opera Company, and Sieglinde at Oper Frankfurt with Sebastian Weigle.
Symphonic highlights include Verdi’s Requiem with the Melbourne Symphony and Toronto Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Sir Andrew Davis, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Asher Fisch, L’Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice conducted by Philippe Auguin, Houston Symphony conducted by Andrés Orozco-Estrada, Taipei Symphony, Pacific Chorale, Kansas City Symphony, Tucson Symphony, Colorado Symphony, and Grant Park Music Festival. Ms. Wagner performed Strauss’ Vier letzte Lieder with the Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco, Spokane Symphony, and Oregon Symphony; a concert of Strauss songs with L’Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice; Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the Aspen Music Festival conducted by Robert Spano; Sieglinde in Act 1 in concert performances of Die Walküre with the Colorado Symphony; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Grant Park Music Festival and Russian National Orchestra at the Napa Valley Festival del Sole, and Rossini’s Stabat Mater with the Oregon Symphony. With the Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco in Guadalajara, Mexico, Ms. Wagner performed several Strauss Lieder, Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, and performed an all-Wagner program — later returning for her first recording of select Wagner works.
Other highlights on the concert stage include a concert of select Wagner works with the Minnesota Orchestra conducted by Asher Fisch, and Senta in a concert performance with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival conducted by James Conlon. Ms. Wagner also participated in the Metropolitan Opera’s summer concert series in Central Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City, and in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Millennium Park concert, where she sang excerpts from Cavalleria Rusticana. Amber Wagner appeared in recital with mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton under the auspices of the Tucson Desert Song Festival and Arizona Opera, and made her New York recital debut with the George London Foundation at the Morgan Library.
Amber Wagner is a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition Grand Finals, Liederkranz Foundation Competition, and recipient of a Richard Tucker Career Grant Award, Kirsten Flagstad Award from the George London Foundation, and Sullivan Foundation Career Grant. She is also the first place winner of the Palm Beach Opera and Palm Springs Opera Guild Competitions, winner of the Lynne Harvey Scholarship from the Musicians Club of Women, and winner of the Union League Civic and Arts Foundation Competition. As part of her participation in the 2007 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Ms. Wagner was also featured in the documentary “The Audition.” She is a native of Oregon.
Amber Wagner, soprano (Sieglinde)
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A native of New Zealand, Simon O’Neill has established himself as one of the finest helden-tenors on the international stage. He is a principal artist with the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Teatro alla Scala and both the Bayreuther Festspiele and Salzburger Festspiele, appearing with a number of illustrious conductors including James Levine, Riccardo Muti, Valery Gergiev, Sir Antonio Pappano, Daniel Barenboim, Pietari Inkinen, Pierre Boulez, Sir Charles Mackerras, Sir Colin Davis, Daniele Gatti, Edo de Waart, Fabio Luisi, Donald Runnicles, Sir Simon Rattle, Thomas Hengelbrock, Jaap van Zweden and Christian Thielemann.
Simon’s performances as Siegmund in Die Walküre at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden with Pappano, Teatro alla Scala and Berlin Staatsoper with Barenboim, at the Metropolitan Opera with Runnicles in the celebrated Otto Schenk production returning with Luisi in the Lepage Der Ring des Nibelungen and in the Götz Friedrich production at Deutsche Oper Berlin with Rattle were performed to wide critical acclaim. He was described in the international press as "an exemplary Siegmund, terrific of voice", "THE Wagnerian tenor of his generation" and "a turbo-charged tenor".
Notable debuts have included: Jenik The Bartered Bride at the Royal Opera House with Mackerras (2005), Die Zauberflöte at the Salzburg Festival with Muti (2005), Gran Sacerdote Idomeneo at the Metropolitan Opera under Levine (2006), Sergei in Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk with Armstrong for Opera Australia (2009), Siegmund Die Walküre at Teatro alla Scala with Barenboim (2010) and the Bayerische Staatsoper with Nagano (2013), Lohengrin (title role) for the Bayreuth Festival with Nelsons (2010), Parsifal (title role) with Gatti (2011), Chairman Mao Nixon in China with Lawrence Renes with the San Francisco Opera (2012), and Parsifal at the Wiener Staatsoper with Thielemann (2012).
Simon made his Bayreuth festival debut in the title role of Lohengrin in the new Hans Neuenfels production and returned as Parsifal in the celebrated Stefan Herheim production. Other recent engagements have included opening La Scala's season as Siegmund Die Walküre with Barenboim, the Wiener Staatsoper with Welser-Möst, his return as Siegmund in the Keith Warner’s celebrated Der Ring des Nibelungen, Lohengrin, Fidelio, Stolzing Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and the title role of Parsifal in the Stephen Langridge production at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, the Tambourmajor Wozzeck with Levine at the Metropolitan Opera, Erik Der Fliegende Holländer at the Ravinia Festival with Conlon and the Chicago Symphony, Cavaradossi Tosca in Tokyo, Berlin and Hamburg, Florestan Fidelio, and Die Walküre at the Houston Grand Opera and Hamburg Staatsoper. Simon also made his debut in the role of Siegfried in concert performances of Götterdämmerung with the Orquesta Sinfonica Galicia, reprised Parsifal with the Balthasar-Neumann Ensemble and Hengelbrock at Teatro Real Madrid and returned to Opera Australia and Houston Grand Opera as the title role in Otello.
Recent highlights include: Die Walküre in his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Boris Katya Kabanova at the Berliner Staatsoper and Gurrelieder at the 2017 BBC Proms, all with Sir Simon Rattle; he also recently performed Die Walkure with Andrew Davis at the Edinburgh Festival, made his debut in the title role Siegfried with Jaap van Zweden and the Hong Kong Philharmonic, and performed Siegfried Götterdämmerung for the first time on stage at the Houston Grand Opera. Forthcoming projects include Das Lied von der Erde at the Barbican Centre and in Luxembourg with Rattle, a return to the Hamburgische Staatsoper as Tambourmajor Wozzeck, Die Walküre with La Fura dels Baus in Taipei, performances under Jaap van Zweden with the New York Philharmonic and Dallas Symphony orchestras, a tour with the Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and Paavo Järvi to China, and a return to the Bayerischer Staatsoper with Petrenko.
At extremely short notice Simon made his debut in the title role of Verdi’s Otello in concert at the Barbican with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Colin Davis (2009). His performance was widely acclaimed by critics, who described his musical and dramatic portrayal of the infamous protagonist as “thrilling”, “a triumph”, “an immense performance”, “a tremendous debut in the title-role, giving notice that he is the best heroic tenor to emerge over the last decade.”
Simon has appeared in many of the world’s leading concert halls including Carnegie Hall for Das Lied von der Erde with Levine and The Met Orchestra, Missa Solemnis with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Florestan at the Salzburger Festspiele and BBC Proms with Barenboim, Florestan with the National Symphony Orchestra with Eschenbach at the Kennedy Center Washington, Gurrelieder in the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, Das Lied von der Erde and Parsifal in concert at Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia with Pappano and Gatti, Act Three Parsifal with Nelsons and the Bayerischer Rundfunks Orchestra at the Herkulessaal München, Der Freischütz with Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra, Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass with Dutoit at Tokyo’s NHK Hall and with Boulez in the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, Mahler’s Symphony No.8 at the Sydney Opera House with Ashkenazy and Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 for the reopening of London’s Royal Festival Hall. He also had the honour of touring Europe with Daniel Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra performing Act One of Die Walküre in concert and performing complete the ring cycle with the Staatskapelle Berlin at the BBC Proms.
Multi-Grammy nominated, his discography includes his debut solo award winning album Father and Son, Wagner Scenes and Arias (Lohengrin, Parsifal, Siegmund and Siegfried) with Pietari Inkinen and the NZSO for EMI, the title role Parsifal on Blu-ray and DVD with Sir Antonio Pappano from Covent Garden, the title role Otello and Max Der Freischütz with Sir Colin Davis for LSO Live, Die Walküre on Blu-ray and DVD with Daniel Barenboim from La Scala, Die Zauberflöte for the Salzburger Festspiele Mozart 25 DVD with Riccardo Muti, Mahler’s Symphony No.8 with Vladimir Ashkenanzy and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven Symphony No.9 with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie conducted by Paavo Järvi and with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra under Kent Nagano, Frank Martin’s Der Sturm with the Netherlands Radio Symphony and Thierry Fischer, Chauson’s Le Roi Arthus with Leon Botstein and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and most recently Voices of German Opera on EMI.
Simon became an Officer of New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours list, he is an alumnus and holds a Doctor of Music (Honoris Causa) from Victoria University of Wellington and is an alumnus of the University of Otago, the Manhattan School of Music and the Juilliard Opera Center. He is a Fulbright Scholar, was awarded the 2005 Arts Laureate of New Zealand and was a grand finalist in the 2002 Metropolitan Opera National Auditions returning as guest artist in 2007. He also appears on the 1998 New Zealand one-dollar performing arts postage stamp.
Simon O’Neill, tenor (Siegmund)
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Franz-Josef Selig has established himself on the international arena as one of the best-known performers of serious bass parts – particularly Gurnemanz, King Marke, Sarastro, Rocco, Osmin, Daland, Fiesco and Fasolt.
Bass singer Franz-Josef Selig first studied church music at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik, Cologne before taking voice classes under Claudio Nicolai. At the beginning of his career he was a member of the Aalto Theatre ensemble in Essen. He has been a freelance singer since then and has given guest performances at all of the world’s great opera houses.
Recent engagements brought Franz-Josef Selig, to London (Magic Flute under Sir Colin Davis), Vienna (Parsifal under Ingo Metzmacher), New York (Wagner Ring cycle under James Levine), to Munich for a new production of Fidelio by Calixto Bieito and the revival of the Magic Flute and finally again to the Salzburg Festival, where he appeared as Komtur (Don Giovanni) under Yannick Nézet-Séguin and as Bartolo (Le Nozze di Figaro) under Robin Ticciati, to the Opéra de Paris-Bastille under Philippe Jordan and also to the Teatro Real Madrid (Arkel in Débussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande in the production of Bob Wilson under Sylvain Cambreling).
In summer 2012 Franz-Josef Selig made his debut at the Bayreuth Festival as Daland (The Flying Dutchman).
He can be seen there again in 2013 with his engagement as Hunding in The Valkyrie. Further opera engagements of the 2013/14 season take him to Barcelona with Handel’s Agrippina, to Madrid’s Teatro Real in Tristan and Isolde, back at the Opéra National de Paris (Magic Flute and Tristan) as well as to Toulouse (Daphne).
In the 2013/14 season he is also performing in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and at the Beethovenfest Bonn under Jonathan Nott and for the centenary of the Konzerthaus under Gustavo Dudamel. He has been commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic/Nikolaus Harnoncourt to appear in concerts with Schumann’s Scenes from Goethe’s Faust. He can be heard at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival in the second act of a concert performance of Tristan and Isolde under Semyon Bychkov. He is ending the season in July with a performance of Entführung aus dem Serail at the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden under Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
In spite of numerous concert and operatic engagements, the singer still finds tome for lieder recitals. ‘Not many real basses dare take on the “Winterreise”, but Selig also sings the top notes in a mellifluous piano, and when the notes do get really low, as in the “tiefsten Felsengründen” of the “Irrlicht”, then the whole wight and velvety blackness of an exceptional bass is suddenly there.’
(General-Anzeiger, Gunild Lohmann, 16 January 2012)
Lieder recitals with Gerold Huber are also planned for the coming season, in, among other places, Frankfurt and Stuttgart. He can be seen in German concert halls with his favourite project, the Liedertafel with Markus Schäfer, Christian Elsner and Michael Volle accompanied by Gerold Huber on the piano, with lieder by Schubert and Brahms. His affinity to early music can be seen in his cooperation with Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the concentus musicus Wien, with Philippe Herreweghe, René Jacobs, and the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin.
Numerous CD and DVD productions document the artistic range of this unusual singer – from Bach’s St Matthew Passion via Mozart’s Magic Flute (The Royal Opera, London/Sir Colin Davis), Don Giovanni (Wiener Staatsoper/Riccardo Muti), Le nozze di Figaro (Salzburg Festival/Nikolaus Harnoncourt), and Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Gran Teatre del Liceu/Ivor Bolton/Christoph Loy) all the way to L’incoronazione di Poppea (Gran Teatre del Liceu/David Alden/Harry Bicket). He has recorded the part of Gurnemanz in Wagner’s Parsifal both under Christian Thielemann (Vienna State Opera, released by Deutsche Grammophon) and with Marek Janowski and the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin (Pentatone). The DVD recording “Der Ring des Nibelungen” (DG, Metropolitan Opera New York, 2010) with Franz-Josef Selig as Fasolt has received the Grammy award in 2013.
Franz-Josef Selig, bass (Hunding)