Boston Symphony Orchestra
Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, Act II (opera in concert)
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Andris Nelsons, Music Director and Conductor
Jonas Kaufmann, Tristan
Camilla Nylund, Isolde
Mihoko Fujimura, Brangäne
Georg Zeppenfeld, Marke
Andrew Rees, Melot
David Kravitz, Kurwenal
WAGNER Tristan und Isolde, Act II (opera in concert)
Event DurationThe printed program will last approximately 90 minutes with no intermission. Please note that there will be no late seating.
This concert performance is generously underwritten by Robert L. Turner in memory of Giancarla Berti.
At a Glance
Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, composed from 1857 to 1859, came during a break from his massive Ring cycle. Hopes for production of his Ring-in-progress were all but gone; negotiations with his publishers were getting nowhere; he had had no new work staged since Lohengrin in 1850—and so it was obviously time for something more likely to be produced than the Ring. Wagner looked to the medieval legend of Tristan and Isolde. Already in December 1854 he had written to Liszt: “Since never in my whole life have I tasted the real happiness of love, I mean to raise a monument to that most beautiful of dreams … I have in my mind a plan for Tristan und Isolde, the simplest but most full-blooded conception.” Now he was determined to finish Tristan “at once, on a moderate scale … For so much I may assume that a thoroughly practicable work, such as Tristan is to be, will quickly bring me a good income and keep me afloat for a time.” (He would express similarly naive thoughts about Die Meistersinger, the other product of his break from the Ring.) Another incentive to the work on Tristan was his move to a cottage on the Zurich estate of his friends Otto and Mathilde Wesendonck. Here, Wagner and Mathilde were drawn intimately together; there is no question that the intensity of their relationship is to be felt in the music Wagner composed during that time.
Tristan und Isolde is about love: love repressed and unacknowledged, then helplessly and haplessly expressed, and fulfilled, after emotional torment, only through death. Wagner’s use of dissonance in Tristan was startlingly new and represents a turning point in the 19th century’s treatment of tonality. The emphasis on unresolved dissonance—built into the very first phrases of the opera’s prelude and magnified at the interrupted climax of the Act II love duet—was perfectly suited to the work’s depiction of heightened longing.
In 2017–2018—his fourth season as the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Ray and Maria Stata Music Director—Andris Nelsons leads the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) in 12 wide-ranging subscription programs at Symphony Hall, repeating three of them at Carnegie Hall. In November, he and the orchestra toured Japan together for the first time, playing concerts in Nagoya, Osaka, Kawasaki, and Tokyo. In February 2018, he became Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, in which capacity he will bring both orchestras together for a unique multi-dimensional alliance. In the summer of 2015, following his first season as music director, Mr. Nelsons’s contract with the Boston Symphony Orchestra was extended through the 2021–2022 season. Following the 2015 Tanglewood season, he and the BSO undertook a 12-concert, eight-city tour to major European capitals as well as the Lucerne, Salzburg, and Grafenegg festivals. A second European tour to eight cities in Germany, Austria, and Luxembourg took place in May 2016, and a third is scheduled for September 2018.
The 15th music director in the history of the BSO, Mr. 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 orchestra include the four Brahms symphonies on BSO Classics recorded live at Symphony Hall in November 2016, and Grammy-winning live recordings of Shostakovich’s symphonies nos. 5, 8, 9, and 10 on Deutsche Grammophon.
In 2017–2018, Mr. Nelsons is artist-in-residence at the Konzerthaus Dortmund and continues his regular collaboration with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, leading that orchestra on tour to China. He also maintains regular collaborations with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Philharmonia Orchestra, and has been a regular guest at the Bayreuth Festival and at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where he conducts a new David Alden production of Lohengrin this season.
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 the Latvian National Opera from 2003 to 2007.
Since his 2006 Metropolitan Opera debut in La traviata, Jonas Kaufmann has numbered among opera’s top stars. Originally from Munich, he completed his vocal studies there at the local music academy, also attending master classes with Hans Hotter, James King, and Josef Metternich. During his years at the State Theatre in Saarbrücken, he continued his training with Michael Rhodes in Trier. Following engagements in Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Milan, he moved to the Opernhaus Zürich in 2001. His international career has since brought him to the Royal Opera House (Covent Garden), Opéra National de Paris, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Staatsoper Berlin, La Scala, Vienna State Opera, Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Salzburg Festival, and Bayreuth, where he debuted as Lohengrin in 2010. In Italian and French repertoire, he has been acclaimed as Massenet’s Werther, Cavaradossi in Tosca, Don José in Carmen, and Gounod’s Faust. His 2011 role debut as Siegmund in Die Walküre at the Metropolitan Opera was transmitted worldwide on radio and in HD to cinemas. Highlights of recent seasons have included the title role of Andrea Chénier, Radamès in Aida, Cavalleria rusticana / Pagliacci at the Salzburg Easter Festival, Walther von Stolzing in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Verdi’s Otello, and Wagner’s Parsifal (also transmitted worldwide on radio and in HD from the Met). The current season includes Don Carlos in Paris, Andrea Chénier in Barcelona and Vienna, Tosca in Hamburg, and Parsifal in Munich. In 2011, Mr. Kaufmann received the Opera News Award in New York and was named a Chevalier de l’Ordre de l’Art et des Lettres by the French government. He has been named Singer of the Year by Opernwelt, Diapason, and Musical America. Mr. Kaufmann is also a familiar figure on concert and recital platforms. His partnership with pianist Helmut Deutsch, with whom he has worked since his student days in Munich, has proven itself in countless concerts, including a 2011 recital at the Metropolitan Opera, the first solo recital given there since Luciano Pavarotti’s in 1994.
Born in Vaasa, Finland, Camilla Nylund has established herself as one of the world’s leading lyric-dramatic sopranos. In her breakthrough season of 2004–2005, she made debuts as Elisabeth in Tannhäuser at the Bayerische Staatsoper, in the title role of Salome in Cologne, and as Leonore in Fidelio in Zurich; all three remain signature roles in her repertoire. The role of Elisabeth served as her 2011 debut at Bayreuth, with subsequent engagements including a Baden-Baden performance preserved on DVD. She has also won acclaim in the title role of Rusalka and as Elsa in Lohengrin. Among her many Strauss roles are the title roles in Arabella and Ariadne auf Naxos, Chrysothemis in Elektra, and the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier. Other roles include Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Elisabetta in Don Carlo, and Tatiana in Eugene Onegin. In 2016–2017, she returned to the Staatsoper Berlin for Leonore and the Empress in Die Frau ohne Schatten, and to the Vienna State Opera for Die tote Stadt, Arabella, Die Walküre, and Fidelio. Other season highlights included Der fliegende Holländer at the Finnish National Opera, Die Fledermaus at the Semperoper Dresden, Tannhäuser at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, and Sieglinde in Die Walküre at Bayreuth. Concert engagements included Sofia Gubaidulina’s Über Liebe und Haß with the Staatskapelle Dresden, Beethoven’s Missa solemnis with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, and Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass with the Konzerthausorchester Berlin. Recent and upcoming engagements include Die Frau ohne Schatten and Der Freischütz at the Vienna State Opera, her debut as Marie in Wozzeck in Düsseldorf, Der fliegende Holländer in Zurich, her Metropolitan Opera debut in Der Rosenkavalier, a new production of that opera at the Staatsoper Berlin, Arabella in Dresden, Ariadne auf Naxos at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, and Rusalka at the Opéra Bastille. Ms. Nylund’s more than 30 CD and DVD recordings include an acclaimed solo album of Strauss and Wagner entitled Transfiguration. She was given the title of Kammersängerin by the state of Saxony, and has been awarded the Culture Prize of Sweden and the Pro Finlandia Medal of the Order of the Lion of Finland.
Born in Japan, Mihoko Fujimura studied at Tokyo University and Munich’s Hochschule fur Musik und Theater. She won numerous international singing competitions before joining the ensemble of Oper Graz, where she first sang many of her signature roles. Since winning international attention at the 2002 Bavarian State Opera and Bayreuth festivals, she has become a regular guest at major opera houses and festivals throughout Europe. In concert, she appears with the world’s leading orchestras and regularly throughout Japan. In nine consecutive seasons at Bayreuth, she has sung Kundry, Brangäne, Fricka, Waltraute, and Erda. Her operatic repertoire also includes Venus, Idamante, Octavian, Carmen, Eboli, Azucena, and Amneris. Her concert repertoire includes Verdi’s Requiem; Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder; and Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, Ruckert Lieder, Des Knaben Wunderhorn, and symphonies nos. 2, 3, and 8. In recital, she appears regularly with Christoph Ulrich Meier. Ms. Fujimura has recorded Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde with Sir Antonio Pappano for EMI, Gurre-Lieder with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Mariss Jansons, Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with the Bamberg Symphony and Jonathan Nott, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Christian Thielemann and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. For Fontec, she has released two solo recital discs with pianist Wolfram Rieger, singing works by Wagner, Mahler, Schubert, Strauss, Brahms, and Schumann. Recent engagements include the Wesendonck Lieder at the Sala São Paulo and the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Zubin Mehta, and Fricka in Das Rheingold with the Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden to mark the 30th anniversary of Tokyo’s Suntory Hall. Highlights of 2017–2018 include Fricka at the Beijing Music Festival and the Staatsoper Hamburg, Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 at Carnegie Hall with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and Zubin Mehta, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. In 2014, Ms. Fujimura was awarded the Purple Ribbon Medal of Honor by the Japanese government for her contribution to academic and artistic developments, improvements, and accomplishments.
German bass Georg Zeppenfeld studied at the Hochschule für Musik Detmold and with Hans Sotin at Cologne’s Hochschule für Musik und Tanz, where he earned his diploma in opera and concert singing. Following engagements at the opera houses of Münster and Bonn, he was engaged in 2001 by the Sächsischen Staatsoper Dresden (Semperoper), which remains his artistic home. He has been a guest at many of the great opera houses in Europe and the United States, and in concert halls worldwide. Among his many operatic roles are Figaro and Bartolo (Le nozze di Figaro), Don Alfonso (Così fan tutte), Rocco (Fidelio), Caspar (Der Freischütz), Raimondo (Lucia di Lammermoor), Zaccaria (Nabucco), Banco (Macbeth), Padre Guardiano (La forza del destino), Sparafucile (Rigoletto), Philip II (Don Carlo), Gremin (Eugene Onegin), Daland (Der fliegende Holländer), Landgraf Hermann (Tannhäuser), King Henry (Lohengrin), King Marke (Tristan und Isolde), Veit Pogner (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg), Fasolt (Das Rheingold), Hunding (Die Walküre), Fafner (Siegfried), Gurnemanz (Parsifal), Vodník (Rusalka), and Pimen (Boris Godunov). In 2016, he performed Verdi’s Requiem at the Opernhaus Zürich in a co-production with the Zürich Ballet and Oper. A signature role is Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, which he performed under Claudio Abbado in Baden-Baden and has also sung in San Francisco, New York, Vienna, Salzburg, London, Munich, and Dresden. A regular guest at the Bayreuth Festival since 2010, he returns there this year as King Henry and King Marke. Among his roles in Dresden for 2017–2018 are Raimondo, Fasolt, Fafner, Hunding, Daland, Caspar, Sarastro, and Sparafucile. Other season highlights include King Henry at Covent Garden and Mozart’s C-Minor Mass with the Berliner Philharmoniker. Also noted for oratorio and recital repertoire, Mr. Zeppenfeld has sung oratorios from the Baroque to the Romantic era under such conductors as Pierre Boulez, Riccardo Chailly,
Sir Colin Davis, Daniele Gatti, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Marek Janowski, Lorin Maazel, Sir Antonio Pappano, and Christian Thielemann. His varied repertoire is documented on numerous CD and DVD recordings, and he has appeared in many European television and radio productions.
Welsh tenor Andrew Rees studied at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, and completed his studies on the Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. At the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, he created the role of Doctor Yes in Anna Nicole, and has also sung Froh in Das Rheingold and Ulrich Eisslinger in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, all under Sir Antonio Pappano. He has performed the role of Jimmy Mahoney in The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny in Nantes, Angers, Lille, and Copenhagen; Sergei in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk in St. Gallen and Weimar; Boris in Kátya Kabanová in St. Gallen; Siegmund in Die Walküre for the Longborough Festival Opera; Kudrjaš in Kátya Kabanová at the Welsh National Opera; Števa in Jenůfa for the New Israeli Opera; Melot in Tristan und Isolde in Paris and Rome under Daniele Gatti and in Amsterdam under Marc Albrecht; and Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly in New Zealand. Mr. Rees has created many roles in works by British composer Jonathan Dove: Ryan in When She Died … for Channel 4, Lemminkäinen in Swanhunter for Opera North, narrator of Diana and Acteon for the Royal Ballet, and Theseus in the British premiere of The Monster in the Maze under Sir Simon Rattle. In concert, he has performed Heinrich der Schreiber in Tannhäuser under Donald Runnicles and the Fourth Esquire in Parsifal under Sir Mark Elder, both at the BBC Proms; The Dream of Gerontius in Helsinki and Cavaradossi in Tosca with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, both under Sakari Oramo; and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 under Benjamin Zander and with the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra under Jacek Kaspszyk, as well as the narrator in Schnittke’s Faust Cantata, Rachmaninoff’s The Bells, Raffaele in Stiffelio, Macduff in Macbeth, and Vladimir in Prince Igor. Mr. Rees has recorded the role of Narraboth in Salome under Sir Charles Mackerras. Other operatic roles include Bob Boles in Peter Grimes, the Schoolmaster in The Cunning Little Vixen, Ismaele in Nabucco, Walther / Hugo / Old Woman in Judith Weir’s Blond Eckbert, the Lawyer in Harrison Birtwistle’s Punch and Judy, Spoletta in Tosca, and Goro in Madama Butterfly.
This season, baritone David Kravitz returns to Odyssey Opera as Dunois in The Maid of Orleans; to the Boston Symphony Orchestra as Brander in The Damnation of Faust and baritone soloist in Schumann’s Neujahrslied; and to Emmanuel Church in Boston for its Late Night at Emmanuel series, singing two settings of Allen Ginsberg’s poem A Supermarket in California. Last season, he joined the Center for Contemporary Opera in a collaboration with Laboratorio Opera for the premiere of Love Hurts, singing the role of Marquis de Sade / Gilles de Rais. He made his Opera Santa Barbara debut as the Forester in The Cunning Little Vixen and sang with the Boston Symphony Orchestra as the Notary in Der Rosenkavalier. Recent seasons have included his role debut as Scarpia in Tosca with Skylight Music Theatre; a company debut with Palm Beach Opera as the Rabbi in the world premiere of Enemies, A Love Story; the workshop and acclaimed world premiere of Matthew Aucoin’s Crossing with the American Repertory Theater; and a return to the Boston Lyric Opera as Baron Douphol in La traviata. Mr. Kravitz has performed world or regional premieres of numerous contemporary works, earning acclaim as Leontes in John Harbison’s Winter’s Tale with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. He has sung Dominick Argento’s song cycle The Andrée Expedition; newly commissioned songs by Andy Vores and James Yannatos; and world premieres such as Thomas Whitman’s A Scandal in Bohemia, James Yannatos’s Lear Symphony, Julian Wachner’s Come, My Dark-Eyed One, and short operas by Andy Vores and Theo Loevendie. His recordings include Bach’s Cantata No. 20 and St. John Passion with Emmanuel Music, and John Harbison’s Four Psalms and Peter Child’s Estrella with the Cantata Singers. Before devoting himself full-time to a career in music, Mr. Kravitz had a distinguished career in the law that included clerkships with US Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Stephen Breyer. He later served as deputy legal counsel to the governor of Massachusetts.