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Boston Symphony OrchestraAndris Nelsons conducts an All-Wagner Program

Boston Symphony Orchestra
Andris Nelsons conducts an All-Wagner Program


Koussevitzky Music Shed - Lenox, MA View Map

Andris Nelsons, conductor
Sara Jakubiak, soprano (Elisabeth)
Marina Prudenskaya, mezzo-soprano (Venus)
Christopher Ventris, tenor (Tannhäuser)
Michael Nagy, baritone (Wolfram)
Tanglewood Festival Chorus and Boston Symphony Children’s Choir, James Burton, conductor

Overture and Venusberg Music from Tannhäuser
Tannhäuser, Act III


Featured Performers & Ensembles

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

The 2019-20 season, Andris Nelsons’ sixth as the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Ray and Maria Stata Music Director, marks his fifth anniversary in that position. Named Musical America’s 2018 Artist of the Year, Mr. Nelsons leads fifteen of the BSO’s twenty-six weeks of concerts this season, ranging from repertoire favorites by Beethoven, Dvoˇrák, Gershwin, Grieg, Mozart, Mahler, Rachmaninoff, Ravel, and Tchaikovsky to world and American premieres of BSO-commissioned works from Eric Nathan, Betsy Jolas, Arturs Maskats, and HK Gruber. The season also brings the continuation of his complete Shostakovich symphony cycle with the orchestra, and collaborations with an impressive array of guest artists, including a concert performance of Tristan und Isolde, Act III—one of three BSO programs he will also conduct at Carnegie Hall—with Jonas Kaufmann and Emily Magee in the title roles. In addition, February 2020 brings a major tour to Asia in which Maestro Nelsons and the BSO give their first concerts together in Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.

In February 2018, Andris Nelsons became Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Gewandhausorchester (GHO) Leipzig, in which capacity he also 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 highlight of the BSO/GHO Alliance is a focus on complementary programming, through which the BSO celebrates “Leipzig Week in Boston” and the GHO celebrates “Boston Week in Leipzig,” thereby highlighting each other’s musical traditions through uniquely programmed concerts, chamber music performances, archival exhibits, and lecture series. For this season’s “Leipzig Week in Boston,” under Maestro Nelsons’ leadership in November, the entire Gewandhausorchester Leipzig comes to Symphony Hall for joint concerts with the BSO as well as two concerts of its own.

In summer 2015, following his first season as music director, Andris Nelsons’ contract with the BSO was extended through the 2021-22 season. In November 2017, he and the orchestra 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.

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. His recordings with the BSO, all made live in concert at Symphony Hall, include the complete Brahms symphonies on BSO Classics; Grammy-winning recordings on Deutsche Grammophon of Shostakovich’s symphonies 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, and 11 (The Year 1905) as part of a complete Shostakovich symphony cycle for that label; and a recent two-disc set pairing Shostakovich’s symphonies 6 and 7 (Leningrad). This November, a new release on Naxos features Andris Nelsons and the orchestra in the world premieres of BSO-commissioned works by Timo Andres, Eric Nathan, Sean Shepherd, and George Tsontakis. Under an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon, Andris Nelsons is also recording the complete Bruckner symphonies with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and the complete Beethoven symphonies with the Vienna Philharmonic.

During the 2019-20 season, Andris Nelsons continues his ongoing collaborations with the Vienna Philharmonic. Throughout his career, he has also established regular collaborations with the Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, and has been a regular guest at the Bayreuth Festival and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

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 from 2008 to 2015, principal conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Herford, Germany, from 2006 to 2009, and music director of Latvian National Opera from 2003 to 2007.

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

Praised by the New York Times for her “plush-voiced, impressive soprano,” Sara Jakubiak has captivated audiences with her rich, versatile voice and committed performances. In 2018, she created the role of Heliane in Chrisof Loy’s universally hailed production of Das Wunder der Heliane at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, conducted by Marc Albrecht. Other recent highlights include Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg under Kirill Petrenko at the Bavarian State Opera, Agathe in Der Freischütz with Christian Thielemann at the Semperoper Dresden, and portrayals of Tatiana in Eugene Onegin and Marta in The Passenger in new productions with the Frankfurt Opera. Other roles have included Marie in Wozzeck at the English National Opera, Polina in The Gambler at the Dutch National Opera, Marietta in Die Tote Stadt at the Hamburg State Opera, Elsa in Johannes Erath’s production of Lohengrin at the Graz Opera, and Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus with Zubin Mehta and the Israeli Philharmonic.

In the 2019/20 season, Jakubiak will make both her role and house debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Chrysothemis in Elektra. She will also return to the Komische Oper Berlin for her first Dorota in Schwanda, der Dudelsackpfeifer and debut as Sieglinde in excerpts from Die Walküre at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland. On the concert platform, the soprano will sing Four Last Songs with the Munich Philharmonic and Janacek’s Glagolotic Mass with the London Philharmonic.

Last season, Jakubiak sang Marietta in a new production of Die Tote Stadt at the Komische Oper, directed by Robert Carsen. She also appeared as Elsa in Lohengrin at Theater Bonn and joined Kirill Petrenko in a reprise of her role as Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg with the Bavarian State Opera and in Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with the Symphonieorchester Voralberg. Other concert performances included Four Last Songs with the Symphony Orchestra Opera Vlaanderen in Antwerp, the title role in Julietta at Carnegie Hall with the American Symphony Orchestra, and Glagolotic Mass with the Hallé Orchestra and Erwartung with the Bergen Philharmonic, both under Edward Gardiner. She also made a studio recording of Erwartung with the Chandos label.

Jakubiak was a member of the ensemble at the Frankfurt Opera between 2014 and 2018, where she distinguished herself in a wide range of roles in new productions, such as Prima Donna in Ariadne auf Naxos, Marie in Die Tote Stadt, Lina in Stiffelio, Polina in The Gambler, Marie in Der Diktator, Alice Ford in Falstaff, the Goose Girl in Königskinder and Freia in Das Rheingold. Earlier in her career, she portrayed Dede in the New York City Opera’s production of A Quiet Place and premiered the role of Cathy in the Minnesota Opera’s production of Bernard Hermann’s Wuthering Heights.

Jakubiak can be seen on DVD as Agathe in Der Freischütz (Thielemann/Kohler) and a forthcoming Naxos Records release of Das Wunder der Heliane (Albrecht /Loy). She can be heard on the Grammy-nominated Chandos recording of Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass with the Bergen Philharmonic (Gardiner) and as Fiora in Montemezzi’s L’amore dei tre Re with the Polish Radio Symphony (Borowicz). In the 2019, she will be recording Erwartung for Chandos with Maestro Gardiner and the Bergen Philharmonic.

“Ms. Jakubiak has a wonderfully expansive, glamorous and youthful dramatic soprano...a luxurious, changeable voice blessed with infinite colors that only appears once every twenty years.” - Online Merker 2018, Deutsche Oper’s Das Wunder der Heliane


Sara Jakubiak
Marina Prudenskaya Marina Prudenskaya Christopher Ventris
Christopher Ventris View biography in full page >


Christopher Ventris has performed on the world’s most important stages, enjoyed enduring collaborations with many esteemed conductors and is considered internationally to be one of today’s finest tenors.While Wagner’s music has played an important role in Ventris’ international career, a diverse and wide-ranging repertoire has also been key in his lasting success.

Ventris made a long anticipated role debut last season as Tristan in Wagner’s epic Tristan und Isolde under Alain Altinoglu at Theatre de la Monnaie, to great acclaim: “In the love duet, he sang with honeyed warmth, blending handsomely with Isolde and the orchestra below ……..”. The current season brings further Tristan performances, this time semi-staged, at Royal Danish Opera and conducted by Lothar Koenigs alongside a return to the Metropolitan opera in a role debut as Tambour-Major (Wozzeck), conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin and in William Kentridge’s production.  In addition to concert performances of Die Walküre with the Dresden Philharmonie under Marek Janowski and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra under Alexander Vedernikov, he joins Robert Carsen’s production at Teatro Real Madrid under Pablo Heras-Casado and also returns to Staatsoper Hamburg as Parsifal.

Christopher Ventris appeared as Peter Grimes at Opernhaus Zürich and Deutsche Oper Berlin, Florestan (Fidelio) at Washington National Opera, Sergei (Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk) in Geneva, Madrid, London and Brussels, and Jimmy Mahoney (Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny) at both Berliner and Wiener Staatsoper.  Števa in Janáček’s Jenůfa marked his debut at the Metropolitan Opera before graduation to Laca which he sang most recently in Dmitri Tcherniakov’s production at Opernhaus Zürich. Max (Der Freischütz) marked his debut at Teatro alla Scala and he appeared as Pfitzner’s Palestrina at Bayerische Staatsoper. His role debut as Prince Andrey Khovansky (Khovanshchina) at Wiener Staatsoper conducted by Semyon Bychkov, was subsequently seen at London’s Royal Albert Hall as part of the 2017 BBC Proms.

An acclaimed debut at Bayreuther Festspiele as Parsifal in Stefan Herheim’s new production, conducted by Daniele Gatti, led to a number of other appearances in the role including at Wiener Staatsoper (Franz Welser-Möst), Bayerische Staatsoper (Kent Nagano), Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (Bernard Haitink), Opéra national de Paris (Hartmut Haenchen), San Francisco Opera (Donald Runnicles) and is immortalised on DVD from Opernhaus Zürich (Haitink). Ventris has appeared as Siegmund (Die Walküre) at Wiener Staatsoper (Sir Simon Rattle), Bayreuth, Washington, Amsterdam, Budapest, at Semperoper Dresden, and features on CD live from Wiener Staastoper under Christian Thielemann. Ventris joined Philippe Jordan at Salzburger Festspiele in the title role of the lesser-performed Rienzi, made his role debut as Tannhäuser under Sir Mark Elder at Opéra national de Paris, and appeared as Lohengrin at Grand Théâtre de Genève, Teatro Real Madrid and The Dallas Opera.


Christopher Ventris
Michael Nagy, baritone
Michael Nagy, baritone View biography in full page >

The young baritone of Hungarian descent was at first a member of the ensemble of the Komische Oper Berlin; he then went to the Frankfurt Opera where he managed to add the important parts of Papageno (Magic Flute), Guglielmo (Così fan tutte), Count Almaviva (The Marriage of Figaro), Hans Scholl (Die weiße Rose), Wolfram (Tannhäuser), Valentin (Faust), Jeletzki (Pique Dame), Marcello (La Bohème), Albert (Werther), Frank/Fritz (Die tote Stadt), Owen Wingrave (title roll), Jason (Medea) and Dr. Falke (Die Fledermaus) to his repertoire. 

Guest engagements have taken him to, among other places, the Oslo opera house, as Wolfram/Tannhäuser, the Deutsche Oper in Berlin and the Bavarian State Opera in Munich (Graf Luna/Palestrina). He has also appeared at the Theater an der Wien as Nardo (La finta giardiniera) with the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra under René Jacobs.

Michael Nagy is now sought after worldwide for concert and oratorio performances. With Philippe Herreweghe he has developed a steady musical relationship, including works such as Bach's St Matthew Passion at the Lincoln Center in New York, Mendelssohn's Elijah in Amsterdam and tours with Mahler's Rückertlieder andWunderhornlieder. Further engagements have taken him to the Konzert--hausorchester in Berlin, the Museumsorchester in Frankfurt, the Gewandhausorchester in Leipzig and to the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival. Adam Fischer and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Paavo Järvi and the hr Sinfonieorchester, Christoph Eschenbach and the NDR Sinfonieorchester, and Riccardo Chailly are among the prominent musical partners for his broadly based concert repertoire. He works closely together with Helmuth Rilling, who has followed and supported his development from the outset.

Following a successful 2012/2013 season, including roles such as Papageno with the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle at the Baden-Baden Easter Festival, he started the current season at the Lucerne Festival with Gunther, within the Ring Cycle, with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra under Jonathan Nott. He is also making his debut in three roles: as Ford (Falstaff) at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, asDon Giovanni (title role) at the Norske Opera Oslo and finally as Stolzius (Die Soldaten) at the Bavarian State Opera Munich. Concert projects of this season include Shostakovich's 14th. Symphony with Marek Janowski and the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Mendelssohn's Walpurgisnacht with the Munich Philharmonic under Pablo Heras-Casado, as well as a concert of Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach's Die Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt Jesu with the Freiburg Barockorchester under René Jacobs at the Mozarteum Salzburg. In addition, a Lieder evening is planned at the Paris Opéra Bastille with Gerold Huber.

Michael Nagy had his first musical training in a boys' choir, the Stuttgart Hymnus-Chorknaben. He studied singing in Stuttgart, Mannheim and Saarbrücken under Rudolf Piernay, song interpretation under Irwin Gage, and conducting. He rounded off his training in master classes with Charles Spencer, Rudolf Piernay and Cornelius Reid. In 2004, together with the pianist Juliane Ruf, he won the Internationaler Wettbewerb für Liedkunst [International Lieder Competition] staged by the Hugo-Wolf-Akademie in Stuttgart.

Michael Nagy, baritone
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Tanglewood Festival Chorus
Tanglewood Festival Chorus
Tanglewood Festival Chorus, (TFC) View biography in full page >

Tanglewood Festival Chorus
James Burton, BSO Choral Director and Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus
John Oliver (1939-2018), Founder

The Tanglewood Festival Chorus joins the BSO this season for performances of Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy and Poulenc’s Gloria led by Andris Nelsons (September 19-21, the opening program of the 2019-20 subscription season); Galina Grigorieva’s On Leaving and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 2, also under Maestro Nelsons (November 21-26); Duruflé’s Requiem under Giancarlo Guerrero (February 27-March 3), and Stravinsky’s Perséphone with Thomas Adès conducting (March 26-28). In addition, to mark the TFC’s fiftieth anniversary in April 2020, James Burton leads the ensemble in a post-concert Casual Friday performance of Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil (April 17). Originally formed under the joint sponsorship of Boston University and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the all-volunteer Tanglewood Festival Chorus was established in 1970 by its founding conductor, the late John Oliver, who stepped down from his leadership position with the TFC at the end of the 2015 Tanglewood season. In February 2017, following appearances as guest chorus conductor at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood, and having prepared the chorus for that month’s BSO performances of Bach’s B minor Massled by Andris Nelsons, James Burton was named the new Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, also being appointed to the newly created position of BSO Choral Director. Mr. Burton occupies the Alan J. and Suzanne W. Dworsky Chair on the Boston Symphony Orchestra roster.

Though first established for performances at the BSO’s summer home, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus was soon playing a major role in the BSO’s subscription season as well as BSO concerts at Carnegie Hall; the ensemble now performs year-round with the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops. It has performed with the BSO on tour in Hong Kong and Japan, and on two European tours, also giving a cappella concerts of its own on those two occasions. The TFC made its debut in April 1970 at Symphony Hall, in a BSO performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Leonard Bernstein conducting. Its first recording with the orchestra, Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust with Seiji Ozawa, received a Grammy nomination for Best Choral Performance of 1975. The TFC has since made dozens of recordings with the BSO and Boston Pops, with Seiji Ozawa, Bernard Haitink, James Levine, Leonard Bernstein, Sir Colin Davis, Keith Lockhart, and John Williams. In August 2011, with John Oliver conducting and soloist Stephanie Blythe, the TFC gave the world premiere of Alan Smith’s An Unknown Sphere for mezzo-soprano and chorus, commissioned by the BSO for the ensemble’s 40th anniversary. Its most recent recordings on BSO Classics, all drawn from live performances, include a disc of a cappella music marking the TFC’s 40th anniversary; Ravel’s complete Daphnis et Chloé (a 2009 Grammy-winner for Best Orchestral Performance), Brahms’s German Requiem, and William Bolcom’s Eighth Symphony for chorus and orchestra (a BSO 125th Anniversary Commission). On July 4, 2018, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus joined Keith Lockhart for the “Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular” on the Charles River Esplanade.

Besides their work with the BSO, TFC members have also performed with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic and in a Saito Kinen Festival production of Britten’s Peter Grimes under Seiji Ozawa in Japan. The ensemble had the honor of singing at Sen. Edward Kennedy’s funeral; has performed with the Boston Pops for the Boston Red Sox and Boston Celtics; and can be heard on the soundtracks of Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River, John Sayles’s Silver City, and Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan. TFC members regularly commute from the greater Boston area and beyond to sing with the chorus in Boston and at Tanglewood. For more information about the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and upcoming auditions, please visit


James Burton
James Burton, conductor View biography in full page >

James Burton was appointed Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and to the newly created position of BSO Choral Director, in February 2017. He made his BSO subscription-series conducting debut in October 2018, leading the Tanglewood Festival Chorus in Maija Einfelde’s Lux aeterna. In August 2019 he led the Boston Symphony Children’s Choir and Boston Symphony Orchestra in the world premiere of his The Lost Words, a BSO co-commission, as part of the summer’s gala Tanglewood on Parade concert. In April 2020 he will conduct the Tanglewood Festival Concert in a post-concert Casual Friday performance of Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil to celebrate the TFC’s fiftieth anniversary. Mr. Burton made his debut with the Boston Pops in December 2017, returned to the Pops podium last December—as he will again for Holiday Pops concerts in December 2019—and led the Pops this past June at Tanglewood in a program celebrating Queen with Marc Martel.

Born in London, James Burton holds a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the Peabody Conservatory, where he studied with Frederik Prausnitz and Gustav Meier. He began his training at the Choir of Westminster Abbey, where he became head chorister, and was a choral scholar at St. John’s College, Cambridge. He has conducted concerts with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Hallé Orchestra, the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, the Royal Northern Sinfonia, BBC Concert Orchestra, and Manchester Camerata. Opera credits include performances at English National Opera, English Touring Opera, Garsington Opera, and the Prague Summer Nights Festival, and he has served on the music staff of the Metropolitan Opera and Opera de Paris. Mr. Burton’s extensive choral conducting has included guest invitations with professional choirs including the Gabrieli Consort, the Choir of the Enlightenment, Wrocław Philharmonic, and the BBC Singers, with whom he performed in the inaugural season of Dubai’s Opera House in 2017. From 2002 to 2009 he served as choral director at the Hallé Orchestra, where he was music director of the Hallé Choir and founding conductor of the Hallé Youth Choir, winning the Gramophone Choral Award in 2009. From 2002 to 2017 he was music director of the Schola Cantorum of Oxford. Well known for his inspirational work with young musicians, he was director of the National Youth Choir of Japan in 2017 and founded the Boston Symphony Children’s Choir in 2018. Mr. Burton has given conducting master classes at the Royal Academy of Music in London and at the Tanglewood Music Center, and founded a scholarship for young conductors at Oxford. His growing composition portfolio includes works for commissioners including the National Portrait Gallery in London, the 2010 World Equestrian Games, the Choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge, and the Exon Festival, where he was composer-in-residence in 2015. His works are published by Edition Peters. As BSO Choral Director and Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, James Burton occupies the Alan J. and Suzanne W. Dworsky Chair, endowed in perpetuity.


Program Notes Audio
WAGNER - Overture to Tannhäuser
WAGNER - Tannhäuser, Act III