Performance Sunday, May 22, 2016 | 3 PM

The MET Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
With concerts that are “richly rewarding” and feature “pulsing, beautiful playing” (The New York Times), The MET Orchestra and Music Director James Levine make each Carnegie Hall appearance unforgettable. Together, they perform an all-Strauss program that includes a suite from the incidental music for Der Bürger als Edelmann—an adaptation of Molière’s play Le Bourgeois gentilhomme—and the witty, brilliantly orchestrated tone poem Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche. Velvet-voiced soprano Renée Fleming joins the orchestra for additional selections by the composer, including the beautiful and deeply nostalgic Four Last Songs.


  • The MET Orchestra
    David Robertson, Conductor
  • Renée Fleming, Soprano


  • R. STRAUSS Don Juan
  • R. STRAUSS Four Last Songs
  • R. STRAUSS "Meinem Kinde"
  • R. STRAUSS "Liebeshymnus"
  • R. STRAUSS "Das Bächlein"
  • R. STRAUSS "Ruhe, meine Seele"
  • R. STRAUSS '"Die heiligen drei Könige aus Morgenland"
  • R. STRAUSS Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30

  • Encore:
  • R. STRAUSS "Cäcilie," Op. 27, No. 2

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission. 


  • The MET Orchestra

    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra is regarded as one of the world's finest orchestras. From the time of the company's inception in 1883, the ensemble has worked with leading conductors in both opera and concert performances and has developed into an orchestra of enormous technical polish and style. The MET Orchestra (as the ensemble is referred to when appearing in concert outside the opera house) maintains a demanding schedule of performances and rehearsals during its 33-week New York season, when the company performs as many as seven times a week in repertory that this season encompassed 24 operas.

    In addition to its opera schedule, the orchestra has a distinguished history of concert performances. Arturo Toscanini made his American debut as a symphonic conductor with the MET Orchestra in 1913, and the impressive list of instrumental soloists who appeared with the orchestra includes Leopold Godowsky, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Arthur Rubinstein, Pablo Casals, Josef Hofmann, Ferruccio Busoni, Jascha Heifetz, Moritz Rosenthal, and Fritz Kreisler. Since the orchestra resumed symphonic concerts in 1991, instrumental soloists have included Itzhak Perlman, Maxim Vengerov, Alfred Brendel, and Evgeny Kissin, and the group has performed six world premieres: Milton Babbitt's Piano Concerto No. 2 (1998), William Bolcom's Symphony No. 7 (2002), Hsueh-Yung Shen's Legend (2002), Charles Wuorinen's Theologoumenon (2007) and Time Regained (2009), and John Harbison's Closer to My Own Life (2011).

    David Robertson

    A consummate musician, masterful programmer, and dynamic presence, American maestro David Robertson has established himself as one of today's most sought-after conductors. A passionate and compelling communicator with an extensive orchestral and operatic repertoire, he has forged close relationships with major orchestras around the world through his exhilarating music making and stimulating ideas. In fall 2015, Mr. Robertson launched his 11th season as music director of the St. Louis Symphony. In January 2014, he assumed the post of chief conductor and artistic director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in Australia. With the Metropolitan Opera, he has conducted The Makropulos Case, Carmen, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Billy Budd, Le nozze di Figaro, Two Boys, The Death of Klinghoffer, and a previous MET Orchestra concert at Carnegie Hall. He returns to the Met next season to conduct Jenůfa.

    Highlights of his 2015-2016 season with the St. Louis Symphony include a California tour that features Messiaen's Des canyons aux étoiles ..., with video imagery by photographer Deborah O'Grady, and soloist Timothy McAllister performing John Adams's Saxophone Concerto. The concerto was part of the orchestra's latest recording on Nonesuch, City Noir, which received the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance. Other highlights for Mr. Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony include the US premiere of Tan Dun's Contrabass Concerto, and John Adams's most recent symphony for violin and orchestra, Scheherazade.2, with soloist Leila Josefowicz. The Scheherazade.2 performances were recorded live by Nonesuch for future release.

    To celebrate his decade-long tenure with the St. Louis Symphony in 2014-2015, Mr. Robertson showcased 50 of the orchestra's musicians in solo or solo ensemble performances throughout the season. Other highlights included a concert performance of Verdi's Aida with video enhancements by S. Katy Tucker.

    Born in California, Mr. Robertson was educated at London's Royal Academy of Music, where he studied horn and composition before turning to conducting. He received Columbia University's 2006 Ditson Conductor's Award, and he and the St. Louis Symphony are recipients of several major awards from ASCAP and the League of American Orchestras, including the 2008-2009 Award for Programming of Contemporary Music and the 2005-2006 Morton Gould Award for Innovative Programming. Musical America named Mr. Robertson Conductor of the Year for 2000. In 2010, he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and that same year received the Excellence in the Arts Award from the St. Louis Arts and Education Council. In 2011, Mr. Robertson was made a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government.

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  • Renée Fleming

    This season, Renée Fleming celebrated the 25th anniversary of her Metropolitan Opera debut. She is one of the most acclaimed singers of our time, performing in opera houses and concert halls all over the world. In 2013, President Barack Obama awarded her America's highest honor for an individual artist, the National Medal of Arts. Winner of the 2013 Grammy for Best Classical Solo Vocal Recording, Ms. Fleming has sung at such momentous occasions as the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony and the Diamond Jubilee Concert for Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. In 2014, she brought her voice to a vast new audience when she was the first-ever classical artist to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the Super Bowl. In 2008, she became the first woman in the then 125-year history of the Metropolitan Opera to solo headline an opening night gala.

    Ms. Fleming's 2016 concert and recital schedule includes performances in Boston, Stockholm, London, Vienna, Paris, Madrid, Monte Carlo, Buenos Aires, and San Francisco. Her most recent album--Berg: Lyric Suite; Wellesz: Sonnets, recorded with the Emerson String Quartet--was released in September by Decca. Winner of four Grammy Awards, she has recorded a wide range of music, from opera and lieder to jazz and indie rock, as well as film soundtracks, including The Lord of the Rings.

    Ms. Fleming has been awarded the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, Sweden's Polar Music Prize, Germany's Cross of the Order of Merit, France's Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur, and an honorary membership in the Royal Academy of Music. In 2010, she was named the first-ever creative consultant at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She is currently a member of Carnegie Hall's Board of Trustees, as well as the boards of Sing for Hope and the Polyphony Foundation. In March, she was appointed Artistic Advisor at Large for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. For more information, visit

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R. STRAUSS Four Last Songs ("September")
Christian Thielemann, Conductor | Renée Fleming, Soprano | Munich Philharmonic Orchestra

At a Glance

A disciple of Richard Wagner—in whom he declared “music reached its greatest capacity for expression”—Richard Strauss pushed Wagnerian lushness and chromaticism to a glorious extreme that became a cul de sac. By the early 20th century, the “modern” school of Wagner was as dated as the “conservative” school of Brahms. It is certainly hard to see how anyone—except Strauss himself in Also sprach Zarathustra and Ein Heldenleben—could outdo the Wagnerian fireworks of Don Juan, the first of Strauss’s tone poems to be performed.

Strauss’s Vier letzte Lieder (Four Last Songs) are the final creations of a composer who knew he was at the end of his life. Knowing these songs are final testaments makes them uniquely poignant, but without their dramatic circumstances, they would still be among the composer’s most exquisite creations. Prior to the Vier letzte Lieder of 1948, Strauss wrote more than 200 lieder. Of those on this afternoon’s program, he wrote the majority before 1906 for his wife, Pauline, who sang them, he always maintained, better than anyone. He composed for other favored singers as well, sometimes reworking early songs originally for piano accompaniment into full orchestral versions, sometimes beginning with the orchestra and condensing to piano later.

Nietzsche’s Also sprach Zarathustra influenced two of the most glorious musical works of the late 19th century, Strauss’s tone poem of the same title and Mahler’s Third Symphony, both completed in 1896. In the case of Strauss’s work, the influence seems almost palpable—an astonishing display of orchestral color and technology. From the blazing fanfare over a shuddery organ pedal—surely one of the most imposing openings in music—to the enigmatic ending, Also sprach Zarathustra is a mesmerizing work, one that combines visceral power with surprising delicacy.
Program Notes
This performance is part of Sunday Matinees at Carnegie Hall, and The MET Orchestra.