Performance Tuesday, May 3, 2011 | 8 PM

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Under Dutoit, The Philadelphia Orchestra is “sharp and vital” (The New York Times), qualities that serve the group well as they take on bracing music by Stravinsky. Joining them in the lead role of Oedipus Rex is tenor Paul Groves, who sings with “potent intensity” (The New York Times); Petra Lang is the “powerful” voice of Jocaste (Guardian).


  • David Howey, Narrator
  • David Wilson-Johnson, Baritone (Tiresias)
  • Matthew Plenk, Tenor (Shepherd)
  • Men of The Philadelphia Singers Chorale
    David Hayes, Director
  • Paul Groves, Tenor (Oedipus)
  • Petra Lang, Mezzo-Soprano (Jocaste)
  • Robert Gierlach, Bass-Baritone (Creon/Messenger)
  • The Philadelphia Orchestra
    Charles Dutoit, Chief Conductor


  • Apollo (Apollon musagète)
  • Oedipus Rex


  • David Howey

    David Howey is head of the acting program at the Brind School of Theater at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. He was an actor in England for 30 years, appearing with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre Company in London's West End, and in numerous television series and films. He has appeared on Broadway twice and performed Shakespeare throughout the US, including the title role in Macbeth at the Annenberg Center, Prospero in The Tempest at Arcadia University, Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, Malvolio in Twelfth Night, and Leontes in The Winter's Tale for the Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival.

    Mr. Howey has performed with the Walnut Street Theatre, Bristol Riverside, 1812 Productions, Interact, Arden Theatre Company, and The Wilma Theater. He made his Philadelphia Orchestra debut in 2002 as the Colonel in Tom Stoppard and André Previn's Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, a collaboration between The Philadelphia Orchestra and The Wilma Theater.
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  • David Wilson-Johnson

    Highlights this season and beyond for baritone David Wilson-Johnson include Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and at the Casa da Musica in Portugal; Haydn's Harmoniemesse with the Bavarian Radio Orchestra; Mendelssohn's Elijah with the Orchestra of Opera North; Haydn's L'isola disabitata at the Ittingen Whitsun Festival; Britten's Peter Grimes at the Teatro Regio in Turin; Berlioz's L'enfance du Christ with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; Haydn's Creation with the Rotterdam Philharmonic; Davies's Taverner with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; Handel's Athalia with the Basel Chamber Orchestra; Bach's St. Matthew Passion with The King's Consort; and Stravinsky's Threni with the London Sinfonietta at the BBC Proms.

    Born in Northampton, England, Mr. Wilson-Johnson studied modern languages at St. Catharine's College, Cambridge, and singing at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He taught at the Ferrandou Summer School and now teaches at the Sweelinck Conservatorium in Amsterdam. His discography includes Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield, Frank Martin's Jedermann Monologues, and, for the GMN label, Schubert's Winterreise and songs by Finzi and Quilter.
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  • Matthew Plenk

    This season, tenor Matthew Plenk returns to the Metropolitan Opera as Arturo in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor and makes his debut at The Atlanta Opera as Ferrando in Mozart's Così fan tutte. A recent graduate of the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Mr. Plenk made his Carnegie Hall debut with the MET Chamber Ensemble. Other concert engagements have included his Boston Symphony debut at Tanglewood as Iopas in Berlioz's Les Troyens with James Levine conducting, and appearances with the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Hudson Valley Philharmonic, Musica Angelica, and Connecticut Chamber Orchestra, among others.

    Mr. Plenk is a Samling Scholar, and he holds a bachelor's degree from The Hartt School of Music and a master's degree from Yale University. His was a Grand Finalist in the 2007 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, First Place winner of the Five Towns Music Competition, and Grand Prize winner at the Music Lovers Competition. He has recorded songs of Charles Ives for the Naxos label.
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  • The Philadelphia Singers Chorale

    Founded in 1972 and now under the leadership of David Hayes, The Philadelphia Singers is a professional chorus that performs regularly with leading national and local performing arts organizations, including The Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Kimmel Center, and Mannes Orchestra.

    In 1991, The Philadelphia Singers founded The Philadelphia Singers Chorale, a symphonic chorus composed of professional singers and talented volunteers. In its role as resident chorus of The Philadelphia Orchestra, the chorale appears with the orchestra in all its choral subscription concerts, as well as annual performances of Handel's Messiah.

    David Hayes was appointed Music Director of The Philadelphia Singers in 1992. Director of orchestral and conducting studies for the Mannes College The New School for Music in New York, he is also staff conductor of the Curtis Symphony and a cover conductor for The Philadelphia Orchestra.
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  • Paul Groves

    Tenor Paul Groves began the 2010-2011 season with his debut at the Gran Teatre de Liceu in the role of Alwa in Berg's Lulu. Other highlights of the current season include the role of Pylade in Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride at the Teatro Real Madrid and the Metropolitan Opera, as well as his debut as Gualtiero in the premiere of Vivaldi's Griselda at Santa Fe Opera. Mr. Groves's concert performances this season include a tour of Switzerland with Stravinsky's Oedipus rex, Elgar's Dream of Gerontius at Salisbury Cathedral with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Britten's War Requiem at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome and the Teatro del Maggio Musicale in Florence, a return to the Edinburgh Festival with Schumann's Das Paradies und die Peri, and Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde in Boston.

    A winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 1991 and a graduate of the company's Young Artist Development Program, Mr. Groves made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1992. His recent recordings include Roger Waters's opera Ça Ira for Sony Classics, Ravel's cantatas with Michel Plasson for EMI Classics, and songs by Duparc for the Naxos label. He has also recorded for the Telarc, Teldec, Philips, Deutsche Grammophon, and Decca labels.
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  • Petra Lang

    Born in Frankfurt, mezzo-soprano Petra Lang studied voice at the Akademie für Tonkunst in Darmstadt and in Mainz after graduating as a violinist. She currently studies with Ingrid Bjoner. Upon attending the Opernstudio of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, Ms. Lang started her career in Dortmund and Brunswick. Future plans include Brangäne in Wagner's Tristan und Isolde in Bregenz and Las Palmas, Schoenberg's Erwartung in Toulouse, Venus in Wagner's Tannhäuser at Munich's Opera Festival, and Berlioz's Les Troyens and her debut as Leonore in Beethoven's Fidelio at the Deutsche Oper Berlin.

    In 2002, Ms. Lang won two Grammy Awards for her interpretation of Cassandra in the London Symphony Orchestra's live recording of Les Troyens conducted by Colin Davis. The album also won two Brit Awards in London, the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, and the Orphée d'Or de l'Académie du Disque Lyrique.

    Ms. Lang has performed with leading orchestras in Europe and the United States, including the Berliner Philharmoniker; the Dallas and Chicago symphony orchestras; the Munich, London, Vienna, and Israel philharmonic orchestras; and Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
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  • Robert Gierlach

    In the 2010-2011 season, Polish bass-baritone Robert Gierlach performs Creon and the Messenger in Stravinsky's Oedipus rex with Charles Dutoit and the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in Vienna and Krakow, Mendelssohn's Elijah and a Mozart and Chopin concert in Warsaw, and Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte in Gdansk. Recent engagements include Figaro in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro in his Opera Lyra Ottawa debut, Creon/Messenger with the NHK Symphony in Tokyo, Papageno with Warsaw National Opera, the title role of Mozart's Don Giovanni with Michigan Opera Theatre, his New York City Opera debut as Leporello in Don Giovanni, and the role of Vronsky in the world premiere of David Carlson's Anna Karenina with Florida Grand Opera and the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

    Mr. Gierlach received his degree from the Chopin Academy of Music, studying with Kazimierz Pustelak. He can be heard on numerous recordings with Polish radio and television, and in Szymanowski's King Roger with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Simon Rattle.
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  • The Philadelphia Orchestra

    The Philadelphia Orchestra is among the world's leading orchestras. Renowned for its artistic excellence since its founding in 1900, the orchestra has inspired audiences through thousands of live performances, recordings, and broadcasts in Philadelphia and throughout the world.

    With only seven music directors throughout more than a century of unswerving orchestral distinction, the artistic heritage of The Philadelphia Orchestra is attributed to extraordinary musicianship under the leadership and innovation of Fritz Scheel (1900-1907), Carl Pohlig (1907-1912), Leopold Stokowski (1912-1941), Eugene Ormandy (1936-1980), Riccardo Muti (1980-1992), Wolfgang Sawallisch (1993-2003), and Christoph Eschenbach (2003-2008). After 30 years of a celebrated association with The Philadelphia Orchestra, Charles Dutoit continues the tradition as Chief Conductor.

    Since Mr. Dutoit's debut with the orchestra in July 1980, he has led hundreds of concerts in Philadelphia, at Carnegie Hall, and on tour as artistic director of the orchestra's summer concerts at the Mann Center, as artistic director and principal conductor of the orchestra's summer residency at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and now as Chief Conductor. With the 2012-2013 season, the orchestra honors Mr. Dutoit by bestowing upon him the title conductor laureate.

    Yannick Nézet-Séguin assumed the title of Music Director Designate in June 2010, immediately joining the orchestra's leadership team. He takes up the baton as The Philadelphia Orchestra's next music director in 2012.

    The Philadelphia Orchestra annually touches the lives of countless music lovers worldwide through concerts, presentations, and recordings. Each year, the orchestra presents a subscription season at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, education and community partnership programs, and annual appearances at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center; it also regularly tours throughout the world. Its summer schedule includes performances at the Mann Center, free Neighborhood Concerts throughout greater Philadelphia, and residencies at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Please visit for more information.

    Charles Dutoit

    In the 2010-2011 season, The Philadelphia Orchestra celebrates its 30-year artistic collaboration with Charles Dutoit, who has held the title of Chief Conductor since 2008. With the 2012-2013 season, the orchestra will honor Mr. Dutoit by bestowing upon him the title of conductor laureate. Also Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Mr. Dutoit regularly collaborates with the world's pre-eminent orchestras and soloists. He has recorded extensively for Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, EMI, Philips, CBS, and Erato, and his more than 200 recordings have garnered more than 40 awards and distinctions.

    From 1977 to 2002, Mr. Dutoit was artistic director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. Between 1990 and 2010, he was artistic director and principal conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra's summer festival at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and from 1991 to 2001, he was music director of the Orchestre national de France. In 1996, he was appointed music director of the NHK Symphony Orchestra; today he is Music Director Emeritus of that ensemble. Mr. Dutoit has been artistic director of both the Pacific Music Festival Sapporo and the Miyazaki International Music Festival in Japan, as well as the Canton International Summer Music Academy in Guangzhou, China, which he founded in 2005. In summer 2009, he became Music Director of the Verbier Festival Orchestra. While still in his early 20s, Mr. Dutoit was invited by Herbert von Karajan to conduct the Vienna State Opera, and has since conducted at Covent Garden, the Metropolitan Opera, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, and the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires.

    In 1991, Mr. Dutoit was made an Honorary Citizen of the City of Philadelphia. In 1995, he was named Grand Officier de l'Ordre national du Québec, and in 1996 Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the government of France. In 1998, he was invested as an Honorary Officer of the Order of Canada, the country's highest award of merit.

    Mr. Dutoit was born in Lausanne, Switzerland, and his extensive musical training included violin, viola, piano, percussion, music history, and composition in Geneva, Siena, Venice, and Boston. A globetrotter motivated by his passion for history and archaeology, political science, art, and architecture, Mr. Dutoit has traveled all the nations of the world.
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Stravinsky's Apollon musagète (Naissance d'Apollon: Largo—Allegretto—Tempo I)
Montreal Sinfonietta; Charles Dutoit, Conductor

At a Glance

Igor Stravinsky, who came to international prominence during the first two decades of the 20th century as a fiery Russian modernist and who created a musical revolution in 1913 with Le sacre de printemps, abruptly changed his style around 1920. His new “Neoclassical” phase would last some 30 years until he reinvented himself yet again in the 1950s.

The program tonight features two important stage works from the mid-1920s that were commissioned for the Ballets Russes by Sergei Diaghilev, who had given the composer his start 20 years earlier. Both pieces draw from Greek mythology. Apollo (Apollon musagète) (Apollo, Leader of the Muses) is a ballet about the ancient god and three muses associated with poetry, mime, and dance: Calliope, Polyhymnia, and Terpsichore.

One of Stravinsky’s longest and most impressive Neoclassical works is Oedipus rex, which sets a text by the French avant-garde writer Jean Cocteau that Stravinsky had translated into Latin. A narrator, characters, and the chorus relate the story based on Sophocles’s great play to create what Stravinsky called an “opera-oratorio in two acts.” In contrast to Apollo (Apollon musagète), which is scored for strings alone, this piece employs full orchestra, the largest Stravinsky had used in a decade.

Program Notes
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