Cambridge, Cambridge Handel Opera Company – Julian Perkins, IOCO Interview, 23.05.2018

Great Hall, The Leys School, Cambridge © The Leys School

Great Hall, The Leys School, Cambridge © The Leys School

Cambridge Handel Opera Company

 Julian Perkins – Director  Cambridge Handel Opera Company

The Cambridge Handel Opera Company (CHOC) in Cambridge, England, is a new professional organization that celebrates the fusion of music and the stage with performances that are not just ‘historically informed’, but ‘historically inspired’. There is meaningful integrity between what happens in the music and what happens on stage. Baroque stagecraft is incorporated into their productions in a manner that speaks directly to audiences. In April  2018 Cambridge Handel Opera Company staged a highly acclaimed production of Handel’s Rodelinda, HWV 19 in Cambridge at the new theatre at The Leys. In May 2018 Victor Jarosch, IOCO, spoke to Julian Perkins about his objectives and future plans for the CHOC.

Victor Jarosch (VJ): Julian, who or what inspired you to take up the harpsichord, and pursue a career in music?

Julian Perkins - Artistic Director Cambridge Handel Opera Company © Julian Perkins

Julian Perkins – Artistic Director Cambridge Handel Opera Company © Julian Perkins

Julian Perkins (JP):: As the youngest of four, I was born into a family of musical noise. Sitting on my mother’s lap at the piano, making music started out as little more than sibling rivalry. Apart from anything with a keyboard, I enjoyed singing, playing the violin and recorder (infuriated at having to wait until I had legs long enough for the organ!). My patient parents packed me off to music courses including Pro Corda in Suffolk, which nurtured my deep love of chamber music. I first met the harpsichord in my teens experimenting with Baroque music in chamber groups. How could one not love instantly the joy of the dance, the chatter of counterpoint and the freedom to improvise? And what better way to earn a living than sharing with others this life-affirming music?

VJ: Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

JP: At school, David Langdon and Ralph Allwood both went way beyond their job descriptions in supporting my various musical interests. As a choral scholar and organist at King’s College, Cambridge, it was enriching to experience music as part of a daily form of worship. In my studies, I was a shameless magpie in hassling as many musicians as would tolerate me. Amongst others, Trevor Pinnock taught me the importance of connecting with the sound, David Parry the physicality of conducting and Noelle Barker an understanding of the voice.

 George Frederick Handel tomb at Westminster Abbey, London © IOCO

George Frederick Handel tomb at Westminster Abbey, London © IOCO

As a child, there is one stand-out experience that continues to inspire me: singing as a treble in Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand’ under Klaus Tennstedt. I was a dreamy child, but Tennstedt captivated me for reasons I have never fully understood. A grumpy old man, in poor health, flailing about in a seemingly haphazard manner on the podium – but I have never, ever heard an orchestra or choir sound like they did with him – and this had nothing to do with his relative fame. I can only put it down to his complete identification with the music and his utter determination to transmit it to his fellow musicians. Humbling.

VJ: What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

JP: In addition to keeping up and improving one’s musicianship and technique, my greatest challenge is ring-fencing the administration. Like the hydra’s heads – where two more appear if one is amputated – I find that email requests have an alarming tendency to increase the more one writes! Just the other day I sent off programme details for a forthcoming festival only to find two more similar requests in my inbox for other bespoke events. Whilst it is important to keep abreast of the administration, it is vital to maintain the discipline and enjoyment of studying and practising one’s art. I just turn off the computer at a certain point and know that the world will probably not collapse if one email gets slightly delayed.

Cambridge Handel Opera Company / Rodelinda © Jean-Luc Benazet

Cambridge Handel Opera Company / Rodelinda © Jean-Luc Benazet

VJ: As a conductor, how do you communicate your ideas about a work to the orchestra?

JP: Words can be a dangerous medium in rehearsals. Isn’t it truly said that a large part of a conversation happens through one’s body language? While images, colours and metaphors can be useful, I like to communicate my ideas primarily through my gestures and, when I’m directing from the keyboard, my playing.

VJ: How exactly do you see your role as a conductor? Inspiring the players/singers? Conveying the vision of the composer?

JP: I like to enable the musicians to give of their best by providing a framework within which they can work. One needs to balance the dangers of being over-prescriptive on the one hand with being wishy-washy on the other. Every group is different, of course, but if I can earn a group’s trust, stimulate their imagination and have a clear idea of the sound I want, then things are looking good. Inspiration comes out of this – but one can’t plan to be inspiring. As for the composer’s vision, one can only hope to convey this by having a cultural appreciation of their life and works, and by scrutinizing the score again, again and again.

VJ: Which recordings are you most proud of?

JP: They each have treasured memories, but I’m probably most proud of how my first solo recording came together. This was the world-première of eight harpsichord suites by Handel’s younger English contemporary, James Nares. Historic Royal Palaces granted me the honour of recording on the Royal Harpsichord at Kew Palace. The project attracted dozens of subscribers – and even some artwork from one of Nares’ living descendants.

VJ: Which particular works do you think you play best?

JP: Those that are imbued with lyricism and harmonic interest within a cohesive musical structure. A good dollop of counterpoint never goes amiss either!

VJ: How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

JP: I like mixing treasured favourites with pieces that are new to me. It’s fascinating how The Frick Collection in New York juxtaposes art and media from different periods. Similarly, I enjoy devising programmes that have meaningful resonances, such as arias by Handel or Hasse alongside recent responses to earlier works by composers like Stephen Dodgson or György Ligeti. And fresh challenges are irresistible! For instance, I recently created an opera pasticcio about Casanova with the writer Stephen Pettitt. We joyfully plundered operas and oratorios from Vivaldi to Bellini, committing some glorious heresies along the way. Watch this space for our next run…

Westminster Abbey London © IOCO

Westminster Abbey, London © IOCO

VJ: Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

JP: I find that the quality of a venue is determined as much by the unique chemistry of the audience as by the room itself. I have given recitals in some unusual locations – including a water mill – in which the sense of occasion gave a special quality to the venue. Acoustically, it’s often rewarding to perform in a space where there is some wood panelling as this helps to give a glow to the sound. Among venues that are perhaps lesser-known, Wilton’s Music Hall in East London has a particular charm. Originally a Victorian music hall, its acoustic is akin to the Wigmore Hall in its clarity and warmth. There is also an alluring patina to the building’s fabric that makes it feel like the equivalent of a well-loved pair of slippers.

VJ: Who are your favourite musicians?

JP: Those who are brilliant, humble, open-minded – and fun!

VJ: What is your most memorable concert experience?

JP: Arriving to rehearse Handel’s Messiah only to find that the organ was at the wrong pitch. Transposing the piece up a semitone in the concert proved to be good brain-gym!

VJ: As a musician, what is your definition of success?

JP: Knowing that I have touched a listener’s emotions.

VJ: What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

JP: In addition to the normal nostrums such as preparation, punctuality and professionalism, another ‘P’ has come to have increasing importance for me: Process. When I was starting out as a musician I sometimes worried too much about what people might think of me. Now, I try and focus more on the ever-changing process of making music and let the listeners decide for themselves what they like. When Roger Federer turned the tables and beat Rafael Nadal to win the 2017 Australian Open, he spoke afterwards of having played the ball and not the opponent. Similarly, I think performers should give due importance to playing the notes (grouped together musically!) and not the audience. It’s impossible to make people like you, but if you’re absorbed in what you’re doing, that in turn should draw in the listener.

VJ: Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?

JP: Playing a positive role with my wife in the lives of our two sons, giving lots of fulfilling performances, teaching proactive students – and enjoying good food.

VJ: What is your most treasured possession?

JP: My appetite for learning. As the Artistic Director of Cambridge Handel Opera, I recently conducted a staged production of Handel’s Rodelinda in Cambridge. Praised for its  ‘flawless ensemble’ in IOCO, Cambridge Independent headlined its review by stating that ‘Productions of Handel’s operas don’t get much better than this one’.

This season also sees Julian’s concerto debut at the Sage Gateshead with the Royal Northern Sinfonia, his directorial debuts with the Croatian Baroque Ensemble and Wroclaw Baroque Orchestra, a solo appearance on BBC Radio 3’s ‘Early Music Show’, a world première of a choral work by Stephen Dodgson and the debut of his group, Sounds Baroque, at St John’s Smith Square. Solo recitals include appearances in Boston (USA) and at the Petworth Festival, Lammermuir Festival, Northern Aldborough Festival, London Handel Festival, St George’s Bristol and the Holywell Music Room, Oxford, and duo recitals for the Budapest Bach Festival and Mozart Society of America. He returns to the Anghiari Festival in Italy this summer to conduct the Southbank Sinfonia, performs with Florilegium and continues his collaboration with Coram in directing the annual Handel Birthday Concert with Sounds Baroque and international soprano Rebecca Evans. Forthcoming recordings include a programme of Purcell’s songs with soprano Anna Dennis and Sounds Baroque, the second volume of Mozart’s keyboard duets on original instruments with Emma Abbate, Schubert’s sonatas for violin and piano with Peter Sheppard Skærved and the world première of Stephen Dodgson’s opera, Margaret Catchpole. His recent recording of Howells’ clavichord music was described by The Guardian as ‘a virtuoso showcase’ and praised by MusicWeb International as ‘exemplary’.

VJ: Thank you, Julian, for the interview.

—| IOCO Interview Cambridge Handel Opera Company |—

Hamburg, Staatsoper Hamburg, Il Ritorno d´Ulisse von Claudio Monteverdi, 29.10.2017

Oktober 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Oper, Premieren, Pressemeldung, Staatsoper Hamburg

Staatsoper Hamburg

Staatsoper Hamburg © Kurt Michael Westermann

Staatsoper Hamburg © Kurt Michael Westermann

  Il Ritorno d´Ulisse in Patria von Claudio Monteverdi

 Premiere am 29. Oktober 2017, 18.00 Uhr, Weitere Vorstellungen am 1, 4., 7., 9. und 11. November 2017 jeweils um 19.00 Uhr

Claudio Monteverdi Grab in Venedig © IOCO

Claudio Monteverdi Grab in Venedig © IOCO

Anlässlich des 450-jährigen Geburtstags von Claudio Monteverdi bringt die Staatsoper Hamburg am 29. Oktober 2017 als nächste Opernpremiere seine dritte Oper Il Ritorno d´Ulisse in Patria zur Aufführung. Das 1640 in Venedig uraufgeführte Werk handelt von der antiken Sage um die Heimkehr des Odysseus nach 10-jährigem Krieg. Regie führt der in Hamburg durch Salome und Pique Dame bekannte Willy Decker. Der junge Dirigent Vaclav Luks ist ein Spezialist für Alte Musik und hat die musikalische Leitung in dieser Produktion. Es spielt sein Prager Barockorchester Collegium 1704. In der Titelpartei ist Kurt Streit als Ulisse, Sara Mingardo als Penelope zu erleben.

Zum Inhalt der Oper: 10 Jahre Krieg. 10 Jahre Irrfahrt. Dunkelheit. In der Gestalt eines verwahrlosten Greises kehrt Ulisse zu seiner Penelope zurück. Unter all den Freiern, die sie umgarnen, ist er es, der den gewaltigen Bogen des verschollenen Gatten spannen kann und ihre Hand gewinnt. Doch seine Frau erkennt ihn nicht. Erst das Geheimnis ihres Ehebettes führt die beiden wieder zusammen und besiegelt das Todesurteil der Freier. Treue und Liebe siegen im Homer’schen Epos und adeln das schicksalsgebeutelte Paar, das tragisch wie komisch nichts weiter als ein Ball im ewigen Spiel der Götter auf Erden ist. Der Ball wird getreten, getragen, fliegt, fällt zu Boden – und versteht nicht warum. Als Opernvisionär des 16. Jahrhunderts nahm sich Monteverdi voller Empathie für seine Figuren der Odyssee an. 2017 jährt sich sein Geburtstag zum 450. Mal.

 Staatsoper Hamburg / Il Ritorno d´Ulisse in Patria von Claudio Monteverdi © Monika Rittershaus

Staatsoper Hamburg / Il Ritorno d´Ulisse in Patria von Claudio Monteverdi © Monika Rittershaus

Václav Luks konnte als Spezialist für Alte Musik bei den Salzburger Festspielen 2015 und 2016 große Erfolge feiern. Seine musikalische Ausbildung am Pilsener Konservatorium und an der Akademie der musischen Künste in Prag. Er führte seine Studien an der Schweizer Schola Cantorum Basiliensis mit Spezialisierung auf die Erforschung Alter Musik in den Fächern historische Tasteninstrumente und historische Aufführungspraxis fort. Bereits während seines Studiums in Basel sowie in den darauffolgenden Jahren konzertierte er als Hornsolist bei der Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin in ganz Europa und in Übersee (USA, Mexiko, Japan). Nach seiner Rückkehr nach Prag im Jahr 2005 entwickelte er das Barockorchester Collegium 1704.

Santa Maria dei Frari in Venedig / Grabstätte von Claudio Monteverdi © IOCO

Santa Maria dei Frari in Venedig / Grabstätte von Claudio Monteverdi © IOCO

Collegium 1704, das bereits seit 1991 während seiner Zeit als Student an der Musikhochschule als Kammerorchester bestand, zu einem Barockorchester weiter und gründete ebenfalls das Collegium Vocale 1704. Den entscheidenden Impuls dafür gab das von Václav Luks initiierte Projekt BACH – PRAG – 2005, in dessen Rahmen er Hauptwerke von J. S. Bach in Prag aufführte und das den Beginn der regelmäßigen Zusammenarbeit mit dem Internationalen Musikfestival Prager Frühling markiert. Unter der Leitung von Václav Luks etablierte sich Collegium 1704 rasch zu einem der weltweit führenden auf die Interpretation der Musik des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts spezialisierten Ensembles. Václav Luks und seinen Ensembles treten nebeni den Salzburger Festspielen in der Berliner Philharmonie, am Theater an der Wien, im Konzerthaus Wien, im Concertgebouw Amsterdam, in der Wigmore Hall, in Versailles, beim Lucerne Festival, beim Chopin Festival sowie bei den renommierten Festivals Alte Musik Utrecht und Bachfest Leipzig regelmässig auf.

Als einer der weltweit besten Mozart-Interpreten war Kurt Streit an 23 verschiedenen Inszenierungen von Die Zauberflöte auf der ganzen Welt (über 150 Vorstellungen) und acht verschiedenen Inszenierungen von Idomeneo beteiligt – unter anderem in Opernhäusern in Neapel, Wien, Madrid, London und San Francisco. Weitere Engagements waren Mozarts „Don Giovanni“, „Cosi fan tutte“ und „Die Entführung aus dem Serail“ unter anderem an der Metropolitan Opera in New York, der Staatsoper Wien, dem Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in London, La Scala in Milan, der Bastille und der Grand Opera in Paris, am Teatro Real und dem Zarzuela in Madrid sowie in San Francisco, Tokio, Aix-en-Provence, Chicago, München, Berlin, Rom und Salzburg. Er trat mit weltweit bekannten Dirigenten, wie Harnoncourt, Pappano, Muti, Rattle, Christie, Bolton, Ozawa, Mehta, Maazel und mit den Symphonie-Orchestern von Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, St. Petersburg, Berlin, Wien, Paris, Florenz, Stockholm und allen vier Orchestern in London auf.

Staatsoper Hamburg / Il Ritorno d´Ulisse in Patria von Claudio Monteverdi mit Kurt Streit als Odysseus © Monika Rittershaus

Staatsoper Hamburg / Il Ritorno d´Ulisse in Patria von Claudio Monteverdi mit Kurt Streit als Odysseus © Monika Rittershaus

Die Altistin Sara Mingardo ist Preisträgerin des Premio Abbiati 2009 und arbeitete mit Dirigenten wie Claudio Abbado, Ivor Bolton, Riccardo Chailly, Myung-Whun Chung, Ottavio Dantone, Colin Davis, John Eliot Gardiner, Riccardo Muti, Trevor Pinnock, Christophe Rousset, Jordi Savall, Jeffrey Tate und Rinaldo Alessandrini. Ihr Repertoire beinhaltet Werke von Gluck, Monteverdi, Händel, Vivaldi, Rossini, Verdi, Cavalli, Mozart, Donizetti, Schumann und Berlioz. Als aktive Konzertsängerin reicht Mingardos breit gefächertes Konzertrepertoire zudem von Pergolesi bis Respighi über Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Dvorak und Mahler. Zu ihren vergangenen Engagements zählen Händels „Messiah“ unter Natalie Stutzmann in Detroit und in Washington mit dem Detroit Symphony Orchestra, „Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno“ am Teatro alla Scala unter Diego Fasolis, Pergolesis „Stabat Mater“ in Rom (Accademia Filarmonica) mit Rinaldo Alessandrini und in Bilbao, Brahms’ „Alto Rhapsody“ an der Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rom unter Daniele Gatti sowie Vivaldis „Stabat Mater“ beim Musica Sacra-Festival in Münster. Sie sang außerdem Bachs „Johannes-Passion“ mit dem Ensemble Musica Saeculorum in Essen und in Aix-en-Provence, Mendelssohns „Elias“ mit dem Maggio Musicale Fiorentino unter Daniele Gatti sowie in Kopenhagen, einen Soloabend am Grand Théâtre in Genf, „Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno“ in Aix-en-Provence unter Haïm, Mahlers „8. Symphonie“ beim Lucerne Festival unter Riccardo Chailly, in der Wiederaufnahme von „L’incoronazione di Poppea“ am Teatro alla Scala mit Rinaldo Alessandrini, Pergolesis „Stabat Mater“ mit der Accademia Bizantina und Ottavio Dantone in Madrid sowie „Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno“ an der Staatsoper in Berlin und auf Tour in Caen und Lille. Zukünftige Engagements sind „L’Incoronazione di Poppea“ in New York mit Alessandrini und dem Ensemble „Concerto Italiano“, Vivaldis „L’Incoronazione di Dario“ am Teatro Regio in Turin unter Dantone, Mozarts „Requiem“ mit dem London Philarmonic Orchestra unter dem Dirigat von Natalie Stutzmann, Brahms‘ „Alto Rhapsody“ an der Oper in Florence und „Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria“ (Penelope) an der Staatsoper Hamburg.

In weiteren Partien sind Christophe Dumaux, Denis Velev, KS Gabriele Rossmanith, Katja Pieweck, Marion Tassou, Alexander Kravets, Luigi De Donato, Dorottya Láng, Rainer Trost, Oleksiy Palchykov, Dovlet Nurgeldiyev, Viktor Rud sowie Peter Galliard zu erleben.

Claudio Monteverdi
Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria

Musikalische Leitung: Vaclav Luks, Inszenierung: Willy Decker, Bühnenbild: Wolfgang Gussmann, Kostüme: Wolfgang Gussmann, Susana Mendoza, Licht: Franck Evin, Mitarbeit Regie: Jan Eßinger, Dramaturgie: Kathrin Brunner

Mit: L’umana fragilità / Pisandro Christophe Dumaux, Tempo / Antinoo Denis Velev, Fortuna / Giunone Gabriele Rossmanith, Ulisse Kurt Streit, Penelope Sara Mingardo, Ericlea Katja Pieweck, Melanto Marion Tassou, Giove Alexander Kravets, Nettuno Luigi De Donato, Minerva Dorottya Láng, Eumete Rainer Trost, Eurimaco Oleksiy Palchykov, Telemaco Dovlet Nurgeldiyev, Anfinomo Viktor Rud, Iro Peter Galliard, Collegium 1704

In italienischer Sprache mit deutschen und englischen Übertexten
Eine Übernahme vom Opernhaus Zürich

Premiere am 29. Oktober 2017, 18.00 Uhr, Großes Haus
Weitere Vorstellungen am 1, 4., 7., 9. und 11. November 2017 jeweils um 19.00 Uhr

—| Pressemeldung Staatsoper Hamburg |—