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Andris Nelsons conducts Boulanger, Debussy and Puccini

Boston Symphony Orchestra

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Andris Nelsons and the BSO continue their recent tradition of performing opera in concert with Giacomo Puccini's Suor Angelica ("Sister Angelica"), one of the three short operas composed in the 1910s and known collectively as Il trittico ("Triptych"). The story centers on the title character, who is living in a convent to repent a past sin, having a son out of wedlock. Acclaimed soprano Kristine Opolais sings the role of Sister Angelica in this concert performance. Opening the program is a work almost contemporary with Puccini's, Lili Boulanger's short tone poem D'un Soir triste ("A somber evening"), one of few purely orchestral works completed by this young genius before her untimely death in 1918 at age 24. Also on the program is Debussy's immensely colorful Nocturnes, an 1899 masterpiece of musical Impressionism.

Featured Performers & Ensembles

Andris Nelsons, conductor
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The 2018-19 season is Andris Nelsons’ fifth as the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Ray and Maria Stata Music Director. Named Musical America’s 2018 Artist of the Year, Mr. Nelsons will lead fourteen of the BSO’s twenty-six subscription programs in 2018-19, ranging from orchestral works by Haydn, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, and Copland to concerto collaborations with acclaimed soloists, as well as world and American premieres of pieces newly commissioned by the BSO from Thomas Adès, Sebastian Currier, Andris Dzenītis, and Mark-Anthony Turnage; the continuation of his complete Shostakovich symphony cycle with the orchestra, and concert performances of Puccini’s one-act opera Suor Angelica. 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. In February 2018, he became Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, in which capacity he brings both orchestras together for a unique multi-dimensional alliance. Immediately following the 2018 Tanglewood season, Maestro Nelsons and the BSO made their third European tour together, playing concerts in London, Hamburg, Berlin, Leipzig, Vienna, Lucerne, Paris, and Amsterdam. Their first European tour, following the 2015 Tanglewood season, took them to major European capitals and the Lucerne, Salzburg, and Grafenegg festivals; the second, in May 2016, took them to eight cities in Germany, Austria, and Luxembourg.

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 5, 8, 9, and 10, the initial releases in a complete Shostakovich symphony cycle for that label; and a new two-disc set pairing Shostakovich’s symphonies 4 and 11, The Year 1905. 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.

The 2018-19 season is Maestro Nelsons’ final season as artist-in-residence at the Konzerthaus Dortmund and marks his first season as artist-in-residence at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie. In addition, he continues his regular collaborations with the Vienna Philharmonic and Berlin Philharmonic. Throughout his career, he has also established regular collaborations with Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Philharmonia Orchestra, 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 Kristine Opolais, soprano (Sister Angelica)
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Kristine Opolais is one of the most sought after sopranos on the international scene today, appearing at the Metropolitan Opera New York, Wiener Staatsoper, Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, Bayerische Staatsoper, Teatro alla Scala, Opernhaus Zürich and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. She is working with such conductors as Daniel Barenboim, Antonio Pappano, Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Mark Elder, Daniel Harding, Andris Nelsons, Fabio Luisi, Kirill Petrenko and Semyon Bychkov.

In the 2017/18 season Opolais continues her notable collaboration with the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, making her role debut as Elsa in "Lohengrin", in a new production by David Alden, starring opposite Klaus Florian Vogt. Previously in London, Opolais has particularly cemented her title as "the leading Puccini Soprano of today" (The Telegraph), appearing in Kent's 2014 production as Manon Lescaut, as well as starring as Cio-Cio San and Floria Tosca. This season Opolais also looks forward to making her debut at the Hamburg Staatsoper, in "Madama Butterfly", in two special performance as part of the Italian Opera Festival. She also returns for performances of this signature role at the Wiener Staatsoper.

Kristine Opolais is particularly known for her notable collaborations with the Metropolitan Opera, her performances frequently broadcast in HD worldwide. She recently starred as the title role in Zimmerman's 2017 production of "Rusalka", and she received the highest critical praise for her "vocally lustrous and achingly vulnerable performance" (NY Times). Opolais has maintained this strong relationship with the Met since her debut as Magda in "La Rondine" in 2013. Famously, in 2014 Opolais made history at the Met, with two role debuts in 18 hours. She gave a renowned performance in "Butterfly", only to step in for a matinee of "La bohème" the next day, which was additionally cinema broadcast worldwide and Opolais wowed audiences around the globe. She has also forged a strong relationship with the Bayerische Staatsoper, which began in 2010 when Opolais made her debut, to wide acclaim, as Rusalka. Since this time Opolais has appeared in numerous titles including "Manon Lescaut", "Madama Butterfly", Tatjana in "Onegin" and Margherita in "Mefistofele".

In recent seasons, Opolais' concert performances have included appearances at Salzburg Festival, BBC Proms and Tanglewood Festival, where Opolais is a regular guest - this season headlining closing weekend in opera gala, including Act II of "Tosca", with Sir Bryn Terfel. Opolais has appeared with orchestras including the Berliner Philharmoniker, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Concertgebouworkest, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks and Filarmonica della Scala. Highlights of 2017/18 include Opolais' joining an all-star cast, with Piotr Beczała and Rene Papé in Dvorak's Stabat Mater, opening the Prague Festival. She also debuts with the Wiener Philharmoniker, which stands as her third consecutive season appearing at the prestigious Musikverein.

Opolais' forthcoming recording is a DVD of Tosca, from Himmelmann's 2017 production in Baden-Baden, with the Berliner Philharmoniker, conducted by Rattle. Further DVD recordings include Royal Opera House's "Manon Lescaut", in which Opolais sings the title role opposite Jonas Kaufmann, Prokofiev's "The Gambler" at the Deutsche Staatsoper under the baton of Barenboim and "Rusalka" from the Bayerische Staatsoper. CD recordings include those with WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln of "Suor Angelica", released with Orfeo and nominated for a BBC Music Magazine Award, "Simon Boccanegra" on the Decca label and collaborating with Jonas Kaufmann on his Grammy recognised Puccini disc with Sony.

Kristine Opolais, soprano (Sister Angelica)
Violeta Urmana, mezzo-soprano (The Princess) Violeta Urmana, mezzo-soprano (The Princess) Lorelei Ensemble, Beth Willer, artistic director Lorelei Ensemble, Beth Willer, artistic director
Boston Symphony Children's Choir
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The BSCC performs with the BSO, Boston Pops and Tanglewood Festival Chorus at Symphony Hall, as well as at Tanglewood. After holding auditions for nearly 200 children in the fall of 2017, sixty-five singers grades 5-9 were selected by BSO Choral Director James Burton to take part in the BSO's January 2018 performances of Mahler's Symphony No. 3. These concerts featured the BSO, Women of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and the Mahler 3 Children's Choir under the baton of Maestro Andris Nelsons. Following the success of that project, the Boston Symphony Children's Choir (BSCC) was officially announced as a permanent ensemble of the BSO. The BSCC continues to perform with the BSO, Boston Pops and Tanglewood Festival Chorus in performances during the Winter Season in Symphony Hall, as well as during Holiday Pops, Spring Pops and at Tanglewood.

Boston Symphony Children's Choir
Tanglewood Festival Chorus
Tanglewood Festival Chorus
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Tanglewood Festival Chorus
James Burton, BSO Choral Director and Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus
John Oliver (1939-2018), Founder

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 Mass led by Andris Nelsons, the British-born James Burton was named the new Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, also being appointed to the newly created position of BSO Ch

The Tanglewood Festival Chorus joins the BSO this season for performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (October 25-30), Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (November 29-December 1), Puccini’s Suor Angelica (February 21 and 22), and Dvořák’s Stabat Mater (February 28-March 2) all under Andris Nelsons, and Estévez’s Cantata Criolla (April 11-13) with guest conductor Gustavo Dudamel. Also in October, the TFC performed Maija Einfelde’s Lux aeterna with James Burton, BSO Choral Director and Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, making his subscription-series conducting debut. 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 www.bso.org/tfc.

 

 

James Burton
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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. Born in London, Mr. 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, the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, Royal Northern Sinfonia, BBC Concert Orchestra, and Manchester Camerata. He made his debut with the Boston Pops in December 2017 and returns to the Pops podium this coming December. He is a regular guest of the Orquestra Sinfónica Nacional of Mexico and returns this season to lead performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. 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 Opéra 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. He was music director of Schola Cantorum of Oxford from 2002 to 2017. Mr. Burton is well known for his inspirational work with young musicians. In 2017 he was director of the National Youth Choir of Japan; he has recently conducted the Princeton University Glee Club, Yale Schola Cantorum, and University of Kentucky Symphony. In 2018 he founded the Boston Symphony Children’s Choir. 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 contains 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. In July 2019, Mr. Burton will conduct the Boston Symphony Children’s Choir and Boston Symphony Orchestra in the world premiere of his The Lost Words, as part of next summer’s gala Tanglewood on Parade concert. 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
BOULANGER - D’un Soir triste (12 min)
DEBUSSY - Nocturnes (24 min)
PUCCINI - Suor Angelica* (55 min)

*Concert performance; sung in Italian with English subtitles